The Chargers have a great defense, but their one area of weakness is in the interior of the defensive line. Corey Liuget is a talented interior pass-rusher, but the Chargers lack a monstrous run-stuffing presence. That would change with this pick.
Da'Ron Payne, a freak athlete, has a chance to be chose in the top 10 - I considered him to Oakland at No. 10 recently - so he's a great value pick at No. 17.
Everyone thought the Chargers would select Malik Hooker No. 7 overall. They went with Mike Williams instead, so here's their chance to obtain an upgrade at safety. They'll need one if Tre Boston, who played well this past year, departs via free agency this spring.
Pick change; previously Justin Reid, S
Rd. 3, Pk. 20
Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama
The Chargers need to make multiple upgrades on the offensive line, and one happens to be at center, where they had poor play in 2017.
Pick change; previously Rasheem Green, DE/DT
Rd. 4, Pk. 19
Nyheim Hines, RB, N.C. State
The Chargers miss Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead. Austin Ekeler isn't the solution, so here's a talented Sproles- or Woodhead-type option.
If the top safeties are gone, I could see the Chargers taking Allen. They hosted him on a visit, and I think he makes sense as a versatile defender for Gus Bradley's 4-3 scheme. On top of that, the organization could save money by moving on from Corey Liuget in 2018, and the veteran had zero sacks last season, which only continued his downward trend of fewer sacks every year over the past four seasons. Allen could play as a five-technique defensive end or a three-technique tackle for Bradley. Allen would give the Chargers an interior pass rush to pair with Joey Bosa for many years to come. Thus, I think Allen is a good fit for the new team in Los Angeles.
In 2016, Allen totaled 62 tackles, 15 for a loss, 9.5 sacks, two passes batted and one interception returned 75 yards for a touchdown. He dominated at the point of attack all year and was very disruptive. Consistently, Allen used his speed and strength to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He is a tough run defender, yet can also beat guards or tackles in the pass rush.
Allen played really well in 2015 with 36 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes batted. He totaled 33 tackles with 11.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks the year before.
In a 4-3 scheme, the 6-foot-3, 286-pounder could play three-technique defensive tackle, like Aaron Donald, or be an end who moves inside in passing situations. Allen rushed from the inside for Alabama, yet also could serve as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Allen has some natural pass-rushing skills to him along with quickness and strength. He is very fast at the point of attack with the power to shed blocks.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The Chargers could use a safety upgrade, and Peppers could be a nice value in the second round.
Peppers had a good 2016 season for Michigan with 72 tackles, 16 for a loss, four sacks, one interception, zero pass breakups and one forced fumble. He was electric on special teams and especially phenomenal on punt returns, taking one for a touchdown. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder was excellent as a sophomore in 2015, recording 45 tackles with 10 passes broken up and zero interceptions.
Sources say they see Peppers (5-11, 213) as a hybrid safety/linebacker in the NFL. He has the athletic skill set to play pass coverage, but often can be caught flat-footed. His ball skills aren't special either, as he made just one interception in his collegiate career, which was from catching a tipped pass. Thus, some sources think Peppers would fit best as a safety in the middle of the field. That would allow him to make plays off his instincts, and he could be a weapon in pass coverage on tight ends, blitzing quarterbacks, playing zone, and defending the run. There is no doubt that Peppers has a ton of athletic upside. He could play safety and dime linebacker, similar to Deone Bucannon. Peppers should also be used on special teams as he is a dangerous weapon there.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
The Chargers could use more offensive line talent. Garcia could compete at guard or tackle.
Garcia (6-6, 302) flashed a good physical skill set at the Senior Bowl, but some team sources say there are some developmental issues with Garcia that cause them to have him as a mid-rounder. He possesses the size to be a left or right tackle in the NFL. Garcia broke into the starting lineup at left tackle as a redshirt freshman and locked down the spot for the rest of his college career, minus an injury-shortened 2013 season.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Carl Lawson, DE/3-4OLB, Auburn
The Chargers could take some defensive end depth with Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu entering free agency next year.
Lawson totaled 30 tackles with 12.5 for a loss, nine sacks and one forced fumble in 2016. In 2015, he seemed to give Laremy Tunsil more trouble than Myles Garrett did. If Lawson hadn't missed half of that season with an injury, he could have had a huge year. He totaled 17 tackles and one sack in his seven games. Lawson missed all of the 2014 season, and as a freshman, he had 20 tackles with four sacks.
Lawson is fast off the edge with some natural strength to fight blockers. The 6-foot-2, 261-pounder has a lot of upside, but his lack of durability is a huge negative. He has the talent to be a first-rounder, but his health is a big question mark.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
The Chargers grab a backup quarterback to develop.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Sean Culkin, TE, Missouri
The Chargers grab a sleeper tight end who could be a steal.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Cameron Tom, C, Southern Mississippi
The Chargers grab some center depth and have demonstrated an interest in Tom.
TRADE - Los Angeles trades 2018 1st + 2018 3rd to Miami Dolphins. Miami really doesn't have an incentive to keep this pick because they have so many difficult decisions to make this offseason, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Chargers on the other hand are suddenly positioning themselves for one final rodeo with Phillip Rivers, and for that, I think protecting their star QB will be the key. Brown may not be the best OT prospect in this draft, but he is by far the most intriguing; with a fully tooled OL, the Chargers will at least get an opportunity at winning the Bolo-Tie Bandalero a ring.
The Chargers have some needs on defense. They still haven't adequately replaced Eric Weddle and have seen Corey Liuget's sack totals decline over the past four seasons, including zero in 2016. I think Los Angeles may end up regretting passing on Malik Hooker and Jonathan Allen with the seventh pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here's a safety to lead the back end. <br> <br>
In 2017, James has 23 tackles with four passes batted. While he didn't have flawless performances against Alabama and N.C. State this season, they were impressive overall. James was healthy and able to display his great instincts and rare combination of great size, speed, physicality and versatility. He played dime linebacker, nickel corner, free safety and strong safety, basically doing everything a coach could ask of him. <br> <br>
James totaled 11 tackles and an interception through two games in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He had been playing well for Florida State. Entering last season, there was a lot of hype that James was an elite player and perhaps the best defensive player in college football. As a freshman in 2015, he had a strong debut with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles, but zero interceptions. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder has a great athletic skill set with tremendous speed, instincts, and strength to hit. He shows the ability to do everything an NFL safety is needed to do. James is fast and long with coverage skills in the deep middle of the field. He also is strong enough to be the eighth man in the box and tackle.
Half of the Chargers' starting lineup gets injured and is out for the season, they somehow find a way to blow three 4th-quarter leads in a row, their draft picks are busts, Philip Rivers whines like a bitch. What's new? In a division with 4 time pro-bowler Justin Houston, 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, the Chargers really need to work on protecting P. Rivs. Lining up with a returning Forrest Lamp next season, Connor Williams takes the AFC West by surprise as one of the best tackles in the league. That is, until he suffers a season-ending injury in preseason.
Unfortunately, as much as Los Angeles has struggled with exciting the fanbase in their new city, there's no real "sexy pick" on the board for a Chargers team that could use it. Sure, you could slot in Lamar Jackson here, but is that really sensible? To win sooner rather than later, and god knows they're going to need to with the Rams improving, they're going to need to start rebuilding the trenches, and that starts with adding the best offensive lineman in this draft class, which, in my view, is McGlinchey.
The Chargers have some big needs on defense. They still haven't adequately replaced Eric Weddle while watching Corey Liuget's sack totals decline over the past four seasons, including zero in 2016. I think Los Angeles may end up regretting passing on Malik Hooker and Jonathan Allen with the seventh pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here's a safety to lead the back end. <br> <br>
Fitzpatrick has 13 tackles and a pass broken up in 2017. In the season opener, he was beaten for a jump ball in the end zone by Florida State wide receiver Auden Tate. The 6-foot-5 wideout jumped above Fitzpatrick to make a short touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone. Otherwise, Fitzpatrick played really well, covering receivers downfield, staying around the ball, and helping out his cornerbacks. He finished the game with five tackles. <br> <br>
In 2016, Fitzpatrick recorded 66 tackles with seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He was dominant at times for Alabama, splitting time between corner and safety. Fitzpatrick had a superb 2015 season for the Crimson Tide. The freshman totaled 45 tackles with two sacks, 11 passes broken up and two interceptions - both returned for a touchdowns. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has excellent size and some natural cover skills. He also has a ton of upside to develop. It sounds as if his preference and natural position is safety. Sources who have looked ahead to the 2018 NFL Draft have said that Fitzpatrick is a prototypical free safety who can cover over the slot or in the middle of the field, yet also be a center fielder. They say he has good size, speed, athletic ability, high football IQ and is a play-maker.