San Diego Chargers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 28, 2013

Solid Starter

Manti Te’o, MLB, Illinois – Round 2
Te’o may never be a stud inside linebacker in the NFL, but I think he will turn into a solid pro. Te’o isn’t overly fast or physical, so he doesn’t have the natural athletic ability to dominate. However, Te’o is very smart, hard working and instinctive. I think that will result in him developing into a solid starter who can be a productive cog in a good defense.

Te’o’s positive qualities can be seen with the improvements he made prior to and during his senior season. Te’o saw a weakness in his game in pass protection. He trimmed off some weight and as a result was much better at defending the passing game in 2012. He had seven interceptions and was much better at playing in space.

Helping Te’o to succeed in the NFL is a solid inside linebacker next to him in Donald Butler. The Chargers also have some young talent at nose tackle with Cam Thomas and Kwame Geathers. With five-technique ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, San Diego could have a quality line in front of Te’o for years to come. I don’t think he will turn into one of the top middle linebackers in the NFL like the 49ers’ Patrick Willis, but I think Te’o is a safe bet to be a solid starter.

Most Likely To Bust

D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama – Round 1
Having a late-round pick not work out isn’t a true bust because less than 10 percent of seventh-round picks make it in the NFL and less than 20 percent of sixth-rounders have good careers, so I had to settle on Fluker among the Chargers’s first three selections. I don’t think Fluker will be a bust, but I think there is more risk to his game than there is with Te’o or third-round wide out Keenan Allen.

My reasoning is based on the struggles Fluker had in pass protection last season. He was beaten for multiple sacks multiple times. Fluker is a road-grading run-blocker who has good athleticism for such a large man, but he can be slow in his kick slide and struggles to block speed-rushers.

Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith (Broncos) and Georgia’s Jarvis Jones (Steelers) gave Fluker a lot of problems in 2012. There were other games where he had issues, but he did rise to the occasion to have a strong showing against LSU’s Barkevious Mingo (Browns).

There is no doubt that Fluker has to improve his pass protection in the NFL or he may have to kick inside to guard. I don’t really think that Fluker will bust, but I do see a possibility of it happening considering his weakness with speed-rushers.

Potential Boom Pick

Keenan Allen, WR, California – Round 3
Allen was viewed as a first-round pick for the majority of the draft process. He fell to the third round because of a knee injury and running poorly while not being 100 percent healthy at his pre-draft workout. However, the eye in the sky doesn’t lie, and anyone who’s watched California over the past few seasons knows that Allen is a pure football player.

Allen isn’t the fastest receiver, but he is very physical. Allen is quick and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He is very adept at running the short and intermediate routes. Allen consistently gained separation in college, but the Golden Bears did a poor job of getting him the ball. He is a polished receiver who could make an impact quickly.

Scouts and analysts alike compare Allen’s game to Anquan Boldin. Like Allen, Boldin ran slowly in his workouts before the draft. The veteran has had an excellent career and helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl last year. Allen could be a superb receiver to work with Philip Rivers and help make up for the Chargers’ mistake of not retaining Vincent Jackson. It wouldn’t be surprising if, in years to come, Allen is viewed as one of the steals of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Future Depth Player

Steve Williams, CB, California – Round 5
The Chargers needed secondary help, so Williams was an understandable selection in the fifth round. San Diego has an injury-prone starter in veteran addition Derek Cox to go along with Marcus Gilchrist at corner, so the team really could use more depth.

Williams (5-9, 181) isn’t big enough to be a starter on the outside, but he could develop into a slot corner. Being a good nickel looks like his ceiling, and Williams could easily end up just being a dime or fifth cornerback. He should start out his career as a depth player and will probably always stay in that role.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

11. D.J. Fluker, OT/G, Alabama: B- Grade
This pick is a difficult one to grade. Unlike his teammate Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker can play tackle, giving him a bit more positional value. However, he can only line up on the right side if he’s on the outside, meaning San Diego still has a big hole at left tackle. The thing is that San Diego almost had to go offensive line, and with the top tackles off the board, Fluker was the next-best option.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

38. Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame: C Grade
I’m not too crazy about this. The Chargers had other needs, but the main question is why they felt like they had to move up for Manti Te’o. Who was going to take him between Picks 38 and 45. I’d also be concerned about distractions destroying a weak locker room. Te’o is a very good player who should have been a first-rounder, but I don’t like this fit for him.

76. Keenan Allen, WR, California: A+ Grade
Keenan Allen was a top-25 prospect throughout the entire draft process until concerns set in that he wouldn’t be able to run a 40. He did, and then he managed a 4.71. And after that, there was the mysterious drug test at the Combine. It’s worth noting that Allen never tested positive, so with that in mind, this is an outstanding pick by the Chargers. Allen is a very talented wideout in the Anquan Boldin mold, so Philip Rivers has to be thrilled.

145. Steve Williams, CB, California: B- Grade
This is a very slight reach, but Steve Williams definitely fills a need. The Chargers have the injury-prone Derek Cox and Marcus Gilchrist at corner, so San Diego had to find help at the position.

179. Tourek Williams, DE, Connecticut: B Grade
The Chargers had tons of holes on their roster, including one at the rush linebacker position. Shaun Phillips is gone, so perhaps Tourek Williams can eventually win the job across from Melvin Ingram. Williams fits the range as a sixth-round prospect.

221. Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah: C Grade
San Diego had to find a backup for Philip Rivers, but Brad Sorensen over Tyler Bray, Zac Dysert, Matt Scott and Sean Renfree? Not so sure about that.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

San Diego Chargers Season Preview

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12