San Diego Chargers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami – Round 2
Many projections didn’t have Perryman getting to the Chargers’ second-round pick, and San Diego was fortunate to land him in the back half of Round 2. The Chargers needed to bolster the interior of their linebackers, and Perryman should form a nice duo with Manti Te’o. After showing steady improvement at Miami over the past three seasons, Perryman looks ready to contribute as a rookie.

The 5-foot-10, 242-pound Perryman is a tough run-defender. He packs a serious punch at the point of attack and often dishes out hits on running backs with an impact that can be heard from far away. Perryman had 110 tackles last year along with three forced fumbles, five passes batted and an interception. He is considered to be too short and lacks the speed or athleticism to play in pass coverage, but he still made plays in pass defense for the Hurricanes.

For San Diego, Perryman is a perfect fit as a thumper inside linebacker. Te’o has the ability to function in pass coverage, while Perryman can be the Chargers’ enforcer in the box. Immediately Perryman should bolster San Diego’s run defense. He is an instinctive linebacker who puts himself in position to make a lot of tackles. It would be surprising to me if Perryman didn’t become a solid starter for San Diego.

Most Likely To Bust

Craig Mager, CB, Texas State – Round 2
This was a difficult selection. I think San Diego general manager Tom Telesco had another good draft, and there wasn’t any player or pick who I really disliked. Since I have to choose one, Mager would be choice because of the jump in competition from Texas State to the NFL. He had an impressive week at the East-West Shrine, but in the NFL, he’s going to be asked to cover the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Amari Cooper, Jeremy Maclin in his divisional games. That is going to represent a huge increase in skill compared to what Mager was used to covering.

Mager (5-11, 201) is put together well and he showed serious speed at the Combine (4.44-second 40-yard dash). Sources at other teams said that Mager had a fine collegiate career, but they were surprised that he went on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft. They thought that Mager would go in the early rounds on Day 3.

Perhaps Mager was a bit of a reach and that, along with the jump in competition, make him the player who stands out the most as a potential bust in the Chargers draft class. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s definite as Mager has a skill set to develop. Being afforded time to develop could be critical for him.

Potential Boom Pick

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin – Round 1
Gordon could easily have been the choice for solid starter, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Gordon goes well beyond that designation and becomes one of the better running backs in the NFL. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has a unique combination of size, speed and durability. He has the ability to be an every-down back, plus he has a franchise quarterback to help provide good running fronts out of defenses and a massive offensive line built with road-grading run-blockers.

At Wisconsin, Gordon was an electric play-maker who consistently used his fabulous burst to rip off long runs. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry in 2014 for 2,587 yards with 29 touchdowns on the ground. During his final season, his amazing speed had him tied for the FBS record for career average yards per carry at (8.26) at one point. He also had set the NCAA single-game record briefly with 408 yards against Nebraska in only three quarters of playing time.

Gordon has excellent cutting ability, vision, patience and balance. He is put together well to get yards after contact and illustrated real durability over the last three years for the Badgers. Gordon has more receiving skills than were displayed in college and showed real potential as a blocker.

I think Gordon is going to be a boom pick with Phillip Rivers at quarterback for the Chargers. Defenses have to respect Rivers, so Gordon will see good running fronts as a rookie. With his size and speed, I think Gordon is going to have a lot of success quickly, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he is a Rookie of the Year candidate. I believe that Gordon is going to turn into Pro Bowler for San Diego.

Future Depth Player

Darius Philon, DT, Arkansas – Round 6
Philon was a surprise early entry into the 2015 NFL Draft, and if he had returned for his senior year, he probably would have been a second-day pick with a quality season. The 6-foot-1, 298-pounder was very disruptive for Arkansas last year. Philon was productive with 46 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. He went under the radar, but he showed a real burst to get in the backfield and cause havoc.

In the sixth round, Philon was a steal for the Chargers. He isn’t a great fit in a 3-4 defense, but he could be a nice addition for San Diego’s sub package as an interior pass-rusher. Philon should provide nice depth behind Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget. As a situational rusher, Philon could be a valuable role player for the Chargers.

Walt’s 2015 NFL Draft Grades:

15. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers: B- Grade
Chris Berman is gushing about this pick. I’m not as crazy about it. I don’t know why the Chargers leapt the Texans and gave up a fourth-rounder in the process because the Texans were not going to take Gordon. Still, this is a somewhat decent choice, as Gordon will provide a big boost out of the backfield. The Chargers had no consistent running game with Ryan Mathews gone, so this definitely makes sense, as Philip Rivers needs all the help he can get as he enters the final years of his career.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

48. Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami: A- Grade
Denzel Perryman could’ve gone earlier than this – I had him sneaking into the first round of my mock draft after hearing there was some interest – so I like this pick. Perryman could start at inside linebacker as a rookie, displacing Donald Butler, who was downright awful in 2014. It could be argued that the Chargers could’ve used a blocker for Philip Rivers or a pass-rusher to get after Peyton Manning, but it’s hard to hate this pick.

83. Craig Mager, CB, Texas State: C+ Grade
This is a bit too early for Craig Mager – I had him as a fourth-round prospect – but the selection makes sense to me. The Chargers had no chance in a meeting against the Broncos last year when their cornerbacks were injured, so San Diego had to find some depth at the position.

153. Kyle Emanuel, DE/OLB, North Dakota State: B Grade
Kyle Emanuel is one of the more athletic edge players in this class. The issue with him is the level of competition, as he’s coming out of North Dakota State. Still, the Chargers need another pass-rusher on the exterior, so perhaps they’ll be able to develop Emanuel to eventually become a starter.

192. Darius Philon, DT, Arkansas: C Grade
I like Darius Philon as a prospect; I had him being chosen a bit earlier than this. The problem with this pick, however, is that Philon doesn’t project as a good fit in the 3-4. He’s an ideal three-technique in the 4-3, so I’m not sure how he’ll be able to play in San Diego’s scheme.

2015 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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