It is evident that the San Diego Chargers are tired of drafting from the middle of each round every April, and it's time they lean one way or the other. Recent regular seasons indicate that they might as well tank in favor of selecting USC's Matt Barkley No. 1 overall next year and trading him for a new General Manager and Head Coach. 2012's edition, on the other hand, may have something different drawn up. Let's finish the job:
1.18: Melvin Ingram - DE/OLB (South Carolina)
Apologies to the subtly sexy late-round selections of offensive linemen Riley Reiff and David DeCastro, but Ingram was inarguably the steal of Day One. A large contributor to the wavering stock of Oklahoma linebacker Ronnell Lewis - who I had the Chargers reaching for in the second round of my last mock in order to desperately improve their putrid defensive front - was the fact that schemes wouldn't know exactly where to put his raw ability early on; he proceeded to fall to Detroit in the fourth round. It is the only foreseeable explanation for Ingram's own slide, but this hybridized pass rusher distinctively provides a top-ten grade and potential, and he is a brilliant problem that the San Diego defense will have to muster up the energy to deal with.
2.17: Kendall Reyes - DT (Connecticut)
Reyes arrived at the NFL Combine flirting with 300 pounds, after a 55-lb weight gain from college in which he still maintained above average speed and athleticism for his position, posting a 4.95 40-time. He appears limited when it comes to build, burst, and capacity to consistently pressure the quarterback, but for a unit that was the league's worst at getting off the field on third down (49.2% opposing third-down conversion rate), he possesses enough drive and agility to make occasional appearances in the backfield. He shouldn't challenge nose tackle Antonio Garay unless he doubles in size, but he certainly can't do any worse off the edge than 2011's first-rounder Corey Liuget. If anything, converted basketball players tend to pan out for San Diego.
3.10: Brandon Taylor - S (LSU)
The Chargers traded their third-round and fifth-round picks with the Miami Dolphins to move up just five slots in Round Three, and the result was Steve Gregory's impending replacement in the secondary. The safety pool was rather shallow in this Draft, so it is understandable that they dealed to attain the best prospect of the position's third tier of talent, with Mark Barron and Harrison Smith already off the board the day before. Of course, Taylor's hustle and range in coverage suggest that he is indeed third-tier caliber, although he is a stout tackler. Ideally, Taylor can develop into the unquestioned leader of this defense alongside Eric Weddle.
4.15: Ladarius Green - TE (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Miami significantly used the third-round pick they acquired in the aforementioned trade to take Michael Egnew out of Missouri, a similar tight end prospect who is valued higher as a receiver than a blocker. Consequently, San Diego was able to select Green one round later than I had originally anticipated. As the multiple TE system continues to thrive in game plans of the modern era (in competition with AFC foes New England and Baltimore), while the Andrew Luck-Coby Fleener connection in Indianapolis might pan out smoother on paper, look for Green to have the most prolific rookie campaign of all tight ends in 2012 thanks to the veteran guidance of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who he will unseat in due course. Bold Predictions - the opposite of April Fool's Day.
5.14: Johnnie Troutman - OG (Penn State)
The Bolts resurged their defense early, at the expense of fulfilling what was their truly biggest need and solidifying the dissipated offensive line. Then they take Troutman, a guard they could've just as easily found and signed as an undrafted free agent, when players with higher ceilings such as Senio Kelemete, Ryan Miller, and Nate Potter were still available. Not only has Troutman failed to really stand out in any facet throughout this process, but he has endured knee injuries, DUI charges, and concerns about his work ethic and passion for football. He appears to occupy the mass and strength that can help him excel against bullrushers at the pro level, but his athleticism, footwork, and character all have to improve, and he will unfortunately be shoved into the right side of the starting rotation prematurely due to depth issues (which he can't be blamed for). Hopefully Troutman will rise to the occasion.
7.19: David Molk - C (Michigan)
This a value pick that makes considerably more sense than its predecessor. If it weren't for apprehensions about his durability and lack of visibly elite prowess, Molk would have joined Ben Jones and Philip Blake in the fourth round, as his heart and scrappiness propel him above expectations. The former Rimington Trophy winner will need to grow into San Diego's offensive scheme, but if there is one player the Chargers cannot afford to protect in the case of an injury (apart from Rivers), it is Nick Hardwick, and they now have insurance at center.
7.43 (compensatory): Edwin Baker- RB (Michigan State)
The underclassman ended up being the second-to-last running back drafted in 2012, exceedingly lower than what he aspired for when leaving school as a junior. At 5-foot-8 and 204 pounds, it's as though the quick-spurt bruiser will be unsure of whether he wants to emulate Mike Tolbert or Darren Sproles in this running attack, but he won't be much of a presence in the passing game regardless and that middle-ground status will translate to the impact he'll be able to make as of now. Of course, he can go ahead and compliment Ryan Mathews as "Edwin Baker" without having to worry about replacing Tolbert or Sproles specifically...I mean, that is
allowed right? I just don't see him owning as much of a substantial role coming out of the gate.
San Diego honestly could've helped Philip Rivers a tad more with a new Darren Sproles and another offensive tackle to mirror Jared Gaither. Nonetheless, sitting atop the franchise quarterback's summer wish list were a revamped defensive, depth along the trenches, and an Easy-Bake Oven. Two out of three isn't bad, and A.J. Smith gift-wrapped an additional weapon at tight end. April 2012 was a success...but the Chargers have wasted talent plentifully in the past, so let's make it through October with a winning record before marking attendance for this Draft class.