San Diego Chargers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – Round 1
If Verrett were a little taller, he could easily have been a top-10 pick. Sources with teams that prefer tall cornerbacks agreed that Verrett is an excellent cover corner who is just lacking height. The 5-foot-9, 189-pound Verrett has excellent speed and agility to maintain coverage with receivers. Even though he is undersized, Verrett is a gritty defender who battles receivers and is a good tackler. He has good instincts, ball skills and stays around the football.

Verrett was very consistent for TCU during his career. He performed well to start his senior season against LSU’s receiving duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Verrett had a number of seasons of good production with interceptions, passes broken up and tackles.

San Diego was desperate for cornerback help and took Verrett late in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He could struggle against elite big receivers in the NFL, but the Chargers will probably line him up in the slot a high percentage of the time. NFL defenses are playing their nickel corner more than a third linebacker, so Verrett will probably play the majority of his snaps against the slot receiver. That is a great fit for Verrett, and it will come in handy to have him going against Wes Welker when the Chargers take on the Broncos.

With Verrett’s skill set and San Diego’s need at the position, he looks likely to be a quality starter for the organization in the near future.

Most Likely To Bust

Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame – Round 3
For the second straight year under general manager Tom Telesco, the Chargers had a quality draft class. The one pick that didn’t seem to be as strong as thee other selections was Watt. San Diego took him in the third round, while many projected him to be a mid-third-day selection. The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder isn’t overly strong or athletic.

At Notre Dame, Watt was a quality run-blocker who improved his pass protection over time. He functioned well in a lot of the zone-blocking system that the Fighting Irish ran, and that should work well for the Chargers as they run a lot of zone blocking.

The reason I could see Watt not panning out in the NFL is I think he could have problems blocking speedy pass-rushers and could get overpowered by heavy defensive tackles. The matchup of Watt against emerging young Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe could be problematic for San Diego. It wouldn’t be surprising if Watt is more of a backup rather than a starting guard in the NFL, which isn’t great value for his draft slot.

Potential Boom Pick

Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech – Round 2
A few years from now when people look back at the 2014 NFL Draft, I wouldn’t be surprised if they questioned why Attaochu wasn’t a first-round pick. The 6-foot-3, 252-pounder has dangerous speed off the edge and has added more power to his game as he has matured. Attaochu gained experience at outside linebacker and defensive end in college, so he’s perfect to play as a standup linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

The past two seasons, Attaochu was very consistent for Georgia Tech. He collected 45 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and 12.5 sacks in 2013 and totaled 69 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and one forced fumble the year before. With 28.5 sacks over the past three seasons, the Nigerian Attaochu has proven his ability to speed rush off the edge.

The Chargers have a real need to improve their pass rush. Larry English has been a bust, while Melvin Ingram missed a lot of his second season with an injury. San Diego badly needs to find some edge rushers who can help protect the team’s vulnerable secondary. Attaochu could play immediately for the Chargers. With San Diego’s need at the position, Attaochu could be an instant contributor and a steal like Keenan Allen was a year ago.

Future Depth Player

Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State – Round 6
Grice fell under the radar because he was recovering from injuries during the lead up to the 2014 NFL Draft, but he was a good player for Arizona State the past few seasons. Grice was multi-dimensional player who produced as a runner, receiver and blocker. In the NFL, he should be a real asset as a third-down back.

Through the air in 2013, Grice contributed 50 receptions for 438 yards and six touchdowns. The senior also ran for 996 yards (5.2 average) and 14 touchdowns. Grice should be a nice outlet receiver for Philip Rivers. The NFL is a passing-driven league, and Grice’s contributions in the aerial offense should make him a valuable depth player.

Grice (6-0, 208) may not have the strength or durability to be a three-down back and the bell cow of an offense. Playing him in such a role could get him banged up and on the sidelines. However as a situational back, Grice should be a nice contributor who will be a backup to a runner who carries the ground offense. As a sixth-round pick, Grice was a nice value selection.

25. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: B+ Grade
So much for the report that Jason Verrett would fall to the second round because of a bum shoulder. Verrett is a very skilled player despite his 5-foot-9 frame. The range is right for him, and he fills a huge need at corner. San Diego had to address the position if it wanted to stand any chance against Peyton Manning.

50. Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech: B+ Grade
The pass-rushers are flying off the board – even Trent Murphy is gone – so I can understand why the Chargers made the move up for Jeremiah Attaochu. They desperately needed to upgrade their ability to get to the quarterback because they need to rattle Peyton Manning to have a chance against him. Attaochu is a bit raw, but he has a ridiculous amount of potential.

89. Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame: C- Grade
The Chargers have drafted well thus far, but I don’t like this selection nearly as much. Chris Watt is a late-round prospect, so San Diego is making a major reach. Watt at least fills a need though, given that the Chargers had to bolster the interior of their offensive front.

165. Ryan Carrethers, NT, Arkansas State: B- Grade
Some thought the Chargers would pick Louis Nix at No. 25 because of their glaring need for a nose tackle. They waited a long time, and it’s unknown if Ryan Carrethers can ever develop into a starter, but this pick is close to his range.

201. Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State: B Grade
Marion Grice has become a forgotten man throughout this draft process. He was once viewed as a mid-round prospect, but he dropped a bit. This is a solid move to bring him in though, as San Diego needed another running back on its roster.

241. Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor: A- Grade
I like this pick a good deal. The Chargers needed a speed complement for Keenan Allen at receiver. Tevin Reese can make plays downfield, and he probably should have gone a round or two earlier.

2014 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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