Los Angeles Chargers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware – Round 2
The Chargers taking Adderley in the second round was one of my favorite picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. I think Adderley could be a outstanding complement to strong safety Derwin James, and it would not surprise me if they quickly form as one of the best safety tandems in the NFL.

In the summer of 2018, WalterFootball.com was the first media to discuss Adderley, who was very productive at Delaware, as a legit NFL prospect. As a safety, there is a lot to like about Adderley. He has very good instincts and covers a lot of ground in the back end. Adderley is very rangy to be that deep centerfielder who covers up wideouts trying to go vertical and is adept at breaking up passes downfield. He has quality hands to snatch interceptions and times contact extremely well to break up receptions. He is a very polished safety in coverage who could also contribute as a nickel corner.

While Adderley is undersized, he runs around the field and smacks people. He is a physical defender and willing tackler. He misses some tackles, and for the NFL, he does not have the size to be the eighth man in the box. Adderley should not be assigned to be a downhill run defender because he could struggle to tackle pro backs in that role.

The biggest issue for Adderley was size, but with the Chargers that concern is rectified to a degree as he won’t need to play in the box. James is outstanding as the eighth man in the box, and the big hard-hitting safety showed that in his rookie season with the Chargers. Adderley can be their true centerfielder and free safety to lock down the deep part of the field. Early in his NFL career, I think the instinctive Adderley could become a good starter and form a superb safety duo for Los Angeles.

2018: Justin Jones, DT
2017: Forrest Lamp, G
2016: Hunter Henry, TE
2015: Denzel Perryman, LB
2014: Jason Verrett, CB
2013: Manti Te’o, LB

Most Likely To Bust

Trey Pipkins, OT, Sioux Falls – Round 3
This is a tough selection for me every year because Chargers general manager Tom Telesco consistently produces solid draft classes without glaring picks who look like future busts. I have to select someone for this designation though, and Pipkins could have the most risk of any of the Chargers’ early-round picks.

Pipkins was in the running with Syracuse defensive tackle Chris Slayton as the best player at this year’s East-West Shrine. The 6-foot-7, 307-pound Pipkins has good length and a nice build to him. He showed nice feet in the position drills, and also used his size, length, and strength to tie up edge rushers in the pass-rushing one-on-ones. Pipkins faces a big jump in competition coming from Sioux Falls, and that is going to be a huge challenge for him.

As a third-round pick, a player is projected to start out as a backup but eventually become a three-down starter and be a quality contributor at that. I wouldn’t be shocked if Pipkins ends up hitting his ceiling as a just a backup who is a rotational swing tackle. Given his jump in competition, I think Pipkins has the most bust potential of the Chargers’ early-round picks.

2018: Uchenna Nwosu, LB
2017: Dan Feeney, G
2016: Max Tuerk, C
2015: Craig Mager, CB
2014: Chris Watt, G
2013: D.J. Fluker, OT

Potential Boom Pick

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame – Round 1
This was a difficult choice between Tillery and second-round pick Nasir Adderley because I think both will be good players for Los Angeles. I ended up choosing Tillery due to his skill set. His size, speed and athleticism present a more likely chance of him being a boom pick for the Chargers.

Tillery flashes serious pass-rush ability. He has decent first-step quickness to get into the chest of the offensive linemen. On Tillery’s best pass rushes, he will use active hands to shed blocks. When Tillery gets tangled up or doesn’t continue to use his hands, he can get tied up. Tillery has some strength to him with the ability to shed blocks and bull rush into the pocket. When he’s playing well, Tillery is a physical defender who has some nastiness to him.

In the ground game, Tillery is a big body who is generally sound to hold his gap and hold his ground. He had good size and strength to not get pushed around. He also can shed blocks and make tackles outside of his gap. With his height, length, weight, quickness and strength, Tillery could be a good run defender as a five-technique end in a 3-4, a nose in a 3-4, a nose in a 4-3, a power left end in a 4-3, and a three technique in a 4-3. For the Chargers, Tillery is a good scheme fit in Gus Bradley’s defense.

With the talent on the Chargers’ defensive line and playing between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, Tillery could be a force in the Los Angeles defense. It wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes a steal for the Chargers as a late first-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft.

2018: Derwin James, S
2017: Mike Williams, WR
2016: Joey Bosa, DE
2015: Melvin Gordon, RB
2014: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB
2013: Keenan Allen, WR

Future Depth Player

Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame – Round 4
If you watched any Notre Dame football during the past few years, you would have been sure to notice Tranquill, who was always around the ball for the Fighting Irish. The 6-foot-2, 234-pounder was a solid run defender who always seemed to come up with some clutch stops to help get the Notre Dame defense off the field, or put them in good down-and-distance situations. Tranquill’s skill set may not translate into him becoming a three down starter in the NFL, but I think he is a safe pick to be a quality backup linebacker who also is a valuable contributor on special teams.

2018: Kyzir White, S
2017: Desmond King, S
2016: Joshua Perry, LB
2015: Darius Philon, DT
2014: Marion Grice, RB
2013: Steve Williams, CB

Walt’s 2019 NFL Draft Grades:

28. Jerry Tillery, DE/DT, Notre Dame C+ Grade
With Jawaan Taylor and Cody Ford falling into the Chargers’ lap, I figured they would address their pedestrian offensive line. Apparently, that’s not the case, as they’ve opted to fix the other side of the trenches instead. I think this pick is just fine; it could’ve been better, but it makes sense. New England’s offensive line pushed around the Chargers’ front in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs, so the defensive line had to be addressed. Tillery is a talented player, for sure, but didn’t always try his hardest at Notre Dame, so will he continue with his inconsistent effort while earning a seven-figure salary?

60. Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware A Grade
Nasir Adderley is another prospect who could have been chosen in the opening round. Adderley has tremendous coverage ability and play-making skills. He should have been chosen earlier than this, but the Chargers won’t complain, as they’re getting a much-needed upgrade next to Derwin James.

91. Trey Pipkins, OT, Sioux Falls B+ Grade
The Chargers absolutely had to improve their offensive line after seeing Philip Rivers get heavily pressured in the divisional-round playoff loss to the Patriots. Trey Pipkins isn’t ready to play right away, as he needs to get stronger, but he has a terrific frame and length for a tackle, and he could develop into a solid tackle. Pipkins makes sense here in the third round.

130. Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame A- Grade
Drue Tranquill is a rock-solid player, and he offers tons of upside with his great athleticism. The problem with Tranquill is his extensive injury history. If he can do that, he might be able to develop into a starter for the Chargers in a year or two. I like the potential with this choice.

166. Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State B Grade
The Chargers had to find a quarterback to develop behind Philip Rivers, but they took the wrong quarterback. Easton Stick, however, is not a bad pick. He’s a smart, mobile quarterback with decent accuracy. However, he lacks the arm strength to be a viable starter in the NFL. Stick should become a solid No. 2 signal-caller.

200. Emeke Egbule, LB/ST, Houston B Grade
Emeke Egbule was an impact special-teams player at Houston, so I imagine that’s exactly why the Chargers drafted him. Egbule offers some upside with above-average athleticism, but he’s a project as a defensive player. Still, this is a fine choice, as Egbule will be able to contribute.

242. Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati B+ Grade
Cortez Broughton never made it into my mock draft, but I always had him in consideration to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick. This is a solid selection by the Chargers, as Broughton has good athleticism and potential to be a situational interior pass rusher in the NFL.

2019 NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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