San Diego Chargers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas – Round 2
You could make the argument that Henry was one of the safest picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. The well-polished player is a good receiver for the passing game and is a quality contributor in the blocking game. San Diego doesn’t need Henry to be an instant starter with Antonio Gates still around, but before long, Gates will have retired and Henry should be the Chargers’ starter.

Henry has dependable hands, runs good routes, has size, and has quickness to get downfield. Over the past few seasons, he did his job to help the Razorbacks produce a tough running offense. Henry has experience in a downhill, play-action, pro-style offense that will translate well to the NFL. With the Chargers looking to get Melvin Gordon going, they probably will use a lot of two-tight end sets, and Henry will see the field a lot with Gates.

Gates may only play one or two more seasons, and Henry will take a lot of the blocking load off of Gates. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chargers total similar snap totals at the end of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Before long, Henry should be San Diego’s starter, and I bet he turns into an above-average starting tight end.

Most Likely To Bust

Max Tuerk, C, USC – Round 3
I don’t like picking Tuerk for this, but I have to pick someone. Tuerk could have been in the running to go a round higher, but a knee injury robbed him of the majority of his senior year. While that injury hurt him, it shouldn’t impact his NFL future. One issue that could lead to Tuerk not panning out is strength. In college, Tuerk played in the 280s a lot of the time and was undersized for the NFL.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Tuerk was pushing 298 pounds, which is a significant improvement. However for the NFL, Tuerk should look to add some more weight and get above 300 pounds. Tuerk had versatility in college, but being undersized will limit the number of positions he can play as a pro.

I think Tuerk could be a quick upgrade at center over Chris Watt, so I don’t think Tuerk will be a bust. Of the Chargers’ early round picks though, Tuerk has the most risk because of the size and strength issues that may not translate to the NFL.

Potential Boom Pick

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State – Round 1
Bosa has a lot of potential to be a defensive franchise player in the NFL. I’m not completely sold that he will be a boom pick for the Chargers though. The reason for that is the defensive scheme. Bosa is best as a 4-3 defensive end, and with the Chargers, he will transition to a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker. Bosa did some of that at Ohio State, but I think he is at his best rushing the passer with his hand on the ground.

At 6-foot-5, 269 pounds, Bosa is more of a base end for a 4-3 defense. Other prospects have run into the same problem before as well. Bjoern Werner was a bust for the Colts because of being a 4-3 end forced to play in a 3-4 defense. Bosa is more athletic than Werner, but he isn’t a great fit to drop into coverage and standup on the edge. He is at his best with his hand on the ground and rushing the passer.

However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Chargers use Bosa with his hand on the ground on the other side from Melvin Ingram or Jeremiah Attaochu. I don’t think that Bosa will be a bust, and I think he could easily be a boom pick for San Diego.

Future Depth Player

Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State – Round 4
The Chargers landed an excellent young linebacker in Denzel Perryman last year, so taking Perry in the fourth round was a bit of a surprise. Especially when you consider San Diego also has Manti Te’o in house to go with Perryman. Perry could be a good run-stuffing linebacker for ground-game situations and should come off the field for pass defense. Perry (6-4, 254) is a physical linebacker and a good run defender, but lacks the athleticism to cover. Thus, he will be a limited player as rotational linebacker and a backup considering teams do more passing than running. In that role, Perry should be a solid player who fills his role well and provides good depth for the Chargers.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

3. Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State C Grade
Wow. No one had this. Everyone we polled around the league had DeForest Buckner, Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsil or Ronnie Stanley. No one we polled, and no mock-draft analyst predicted Bosa. I’m so shocked, I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost. Bosa should be a good player, but his fit in a 3-4 is pretty questionable, and so is the decision to take him over DeForest Buckner. The Chargers weren’t going to be able to trade down and get Bosa, but still, this is a reach. Some of Bosa’s off-the-field stuff has to be a concern as well. I’m not a fan of this pick, but I don’t hate it either.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

35. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas B- Grade
It was expected that the Chargers would take a tight end at some point after losing Ladarius Green to the Steelers in free agency. Hunter Henry is the top tight end in the class, and he was viewed as a high second-round prospect, so this selection makes a ton of sense. The Chargers probably should’ve gone with Myles Jack, but I won’t knock them down too much for it.

66. Max Tuerk, C, USC C+ Grade
This is a bit earlier than expected for Max Tuerk, who is coming off a torn ACL. Tuerk could be a solid center though, and you know Philip Rivers is really hoping so because his protection has been horrendous over the past couple of seasons. Center was the biggest need on the line, but can Tuerk play in 2016? We’ll see.

102. Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State B+ Grade
It seems like Manti Te’o was just drafted yesterday, but he’s coming up on his contract season, so the Chargers had to find an inside linebacker for current depth and future starting potential. Joshua Perry may eventually enter the starting lineup. He’s a skilled linebacker I expected to be chosen in the third round. This is my favorite pick of San Diego’s thus far from a value perspective.

175. Jatavis Brown, LB, Akron B+ Grade
The Chargers already added an inside linebacker to potentially replace Manti Te’o in 2017, so why add another? I guess they figured that Jatavis Brown was too good to pass up. Brown is a talented linebacker who could’ve easily been chosen a round earlier. The value makes sense, especially considering that Brown projects as a great special-teams player.

179. Drew Kaser, P, Texas A&M C Grade
A punter prior to the seventh round earns an automatic “C” for me, as they can be found on the street. Drew Kaser wasn’t even regarded as the top punter in this class.

198. Derek Watt, FB, Wisconsin C Grade
This is a lot different than Tampa’s fullback pick. While Dan Vitale has great athleticism and a part in an NFL offense, Derek Watt is just a plodder who can only block, and not very well at that. The brother of J.J. Watt will primarily be a special-teamer, in all likelihood.

224. Donovan Clark, G/OT, Michigan State C Grade
The Chargers definitely needed offensive line depth, and it’s actually surprising that they selected just one blocker in the first six rounds. Does this make up for it? I don’t think so. I didn’t have Clark in my top 400, and I don’t know of any publication that thought he’d be draftable. Clark, who toggled between guard and tackle at Michigan State, will have to move inside because of his short arms.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: C . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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