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2011 Mock Draft Primer: Chargers sitting pretty

March 15th, 2011
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LB Martez Wilson

Despite picking in the middle of the first round, the San Diego Chargers had a relatively strong 2010 season. By most accounts their disappointing record was on account of horrendous special teams play, not really anything that was wrong with their offense or defense.

That means that the Chargers unlike a few teams picking after them, don’t have any real pressing needs. There of course are several areas of the roster that should be address in the draft, but they don’t have one or two positions that are screaming for help right now. Which means that the Chargers can probably afford to take the best player available with their top pick, as well as being in the market to trade back in the first round. The latter possibility increases if some teams at the top of the second round are trying to trade back into the first round to get one of the quarterbacks.

But at the end of the day, I suspect the Chargers will shore up their linebacker corps with Illinois’ Martez Wilson. Keep reading for a full explanation.

As previously noted, the Chargers have no obvious pressing needs. Linebacker is a concern because the team doesn’t seem enthusiastic about re-signing Stephen Cooper, a potential free agent. His departure would mean Kevin Burnett, Donald Butler, and Brandon Siler would be their top options to be their two starters inside. Burnett is solid, but Butler missed all of his rookie season with an injury, and Siler is seen more as a quality reserve than top-end starter. That’s where a player like Martez Wilson comes into play, who gives them the potential caliber of playmaker at the position that Karlos Dansby has performed at in recent years.

The Chargers could also look for help on the outside, but appear to be willing to give 2009 first rounder Larry English one more season to emerge before they give up on him. But a player like UCLA’s Akeem Ayers could be an option with this pick, as well as Houston’s Justin Houston.

Also on defense, the Chargers could use some help at nickel cornerback. Quentin Jammer will turn 32 this year, and has just two more years left on his contract. A player that could come in and provide depth right away and be groomed as Jammer’s heir apparent for 2012 and beyond would be a good pickup. Someone like Texas corner Aaron Williams, Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, or Miami’s Brandon Harris make sense in that role.

The Chargers could also use some help up front at defensive end. Jacques Cesaire is one of their starters, but he’s more valuable as a reserve and will be 31 this season. Luis Castillo has had some disappointing recent seasons and durability has always been somewhat a concern with him. If Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt or Cal’s Cameron Jordan is available here, they will be very hard to pass up with such good value.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Chargers will likely look at the top wideouts. Vincent Jackson’s future is in doubt, as well as the fact that Legedu Naanee and Malcom Floyd are also prospective free agents.  Craig “Buster” Davis has been a disappointment since being their top pick in 2007, having only played in 12 games since his rookie season. So getting a young playmaker on the outside that can stretch the field would be a good pick up in the first round. Maryland’s Torrey Smith would be an option, but eighteen might be considered too high for him. Moving back in the draft and targeting him, Leonard Hankerson (Miami), or Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh) could be good options.

Also on the offensive side of the ball, they could use some help with their offensive line. Right tackle Jeromey Clary is coming off perhaps his best season, but he hasn’t been exactly consistent on that side. Looking at one of the top offensive tackles in this class makes sense. Someone like Colorado’s Nate Solder, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi, or Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo could work for them.

But without a player like Watt or Jordan being available, need and value seem to converge to make Wilson the best choice.

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