Analyzing Chargers First Round Drafts Picks Since 2013

The history of Tom Telesco's first rounders.
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The philosophy of Super Bowl Champion and former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian was to draft players, develop them, and pay them. That is the mentor of current Chargers general manager Tom Telesco.

He has followed just that during his tenure.

There have been some massive hits, and there have been monumental strikeouts. That is in the complete draft. The analysis will be in the first-round draft picks that Telesco and his staff have decided to select.

11th pick of 2013- RT D.J. Fluker Alabama

This seemed like a significant reach at the time because most analysts believed that Fluker would go later in the first round. B/R’s draft analyst Matt Miller had Fluker at 38 on his big board. Fluker was a part of Nick Saban’s three-time National Champion Crimson Tide. Fluker played in 59 games out of 64 and had some good moments while also having bad ones. He was named to the all-rookie team. At times he had a hard time going up against speed pass rushers.

Mike McCoy and his staff decided to move him to right guard in 2015. He did okay, but not at the level of where he was drafted. Instead of seeing if he could contribute with his fifth-year option, the team decided to move on.

Grade: C-

25th pick of 2014- CB Jason Verrett TCU

This was a selection that the Chargers, along with their fans, hoped had worked out. He had some big flashes in his first few games. Verrett had his first career interception against the Raiders in a play where he was going out of bounds to solidify the victory. His first season ended after tearing his rotator cuff. In 2015, Verrett balled out playing in 14 games, intercepting three passes, returning one for a touchdown against the Bears, and got the Pro Bowl nod.

After that, it was three straight injuries that cost him. Verrett tore his ACL in 2016, knee surgery in 2017, and tore his Achilles in 2018. It cost him three seasons. He played in 25 games of a possible 64. He had a lot of promise. In 2020, Verrett had a strong season for the San Francisco 49ers and is looking to continue building on it in 2021.

Grade: INC.

15th pick of 2015- RB Melvin Gordon Wisconsin

Gordon had an interesting tenure with the Chargers. He had a rollercoaster rookie season, being benched numerous times by McCoy and not being able to find the end zone. After that, he found the end zone 47 times and was tops in the league. He was a consistent player for the Bolts running the ball hard and even making two Pro Bowls.

In 2019 things got rough when he decided to sit out because he wanted a new contract. He decided to come back after missing four games, and he never really got in a rhythm. The team offered him one final contract to stay because of the production he had offered, totaling 6,113 total yards in five seasons. He declined and signed with division rival Denver Broncos.

Grade: B-

3rd pick of 2016- DE Joey Bosa Ohio State

There is not much to be said about number 97. He is a three-time pro bowler who has lived up to his selection. He was slowed down in 2018 due to a foot injury. Bosa has been the best defensive player since being drafted. In 2019, he took his game to a whole new level developing into a run-stopping end.

Last season, the team decided that Bosa had earned to be the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. He never really got his body right dealing with numerous injures but still was the sack leader on the team. Bosa in 63 career games has 47.5 sacks, 68 tackles for loss, and 109 quarterback hits.

Grade: A+

7th pick in 2017- WR Mike Williams Clemson

This selection has also been heavily questioned. Williams started his career rough after winning a National Championship the year before. His rookie year was limited due to a back injury, and there were numerous questions about him. The following year he begins to make plays and even scored ten touchdowns.

In 2019, the connection between Philip Rivers and Williams grew a lot. The former Clemson receiver had 1,000 receiving yards and the best average yards per reception with 20.4 a game. It took him a while to gain a connection with Justin Herbert, and finished the season with 756 yards and five touchdowns. He is on his fifth-year option, and some question if he is the right fit. Williams is clutch in the four-quarter and has shown it numerous times. If offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi features him more in the offense, he might take the next step.

Grade: B

17th pick of 2018- S Derwin James Florida St.

Christmas came in April for the Chargers when James fell from being a top ten prospect to the 17th pick. James came in and tore up the league. He was able to cover tight ends, bring down running backs, and making plays. He earned two All-Pro honors and was establishing himself as one of the best in the league. He had over 100 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

In the last two seasons, he has been slowed down by injuries. He has played in five out of the possible 32 games. James had been injured in training camp but is looking to bounce back in 2021. If James comes back at 100 percent, then this still looks like a bonafide steal.

Grade: A-

28th pick of 2019- DT Jerry Tillery Notre Dame

This has probably been the most disappointing selection so far. There is a chance for improvement, but Tillery has yet to make an impact as a Charger. He had an underwhelming rookie season in which he didn’t do all that much. His second year, he had a little bit of a climb sacking the opposing quarterback three times, but he went from hitting the QB only three times his first season to 14 last season.

Tillery also makes silly mistakes. He committed eight penalties this season, and five of them resulted in first downs. That pisses coaches off when dumb penalties result in first downs. Tillery leaves a lot desired. New head coach Brandon Staley said he believes in the third-year defensive tackle, and he feels like he can help him grow.

Grade: D-

6th pick of 2020- QB Justin Herbert Oregon

Is there anything that really has to be said? Nope!

Grade: A+

23rd pick of 2020- LB Kenneth Murray Oklahoma

The young linebacker struggled at times to understand the defense. He was benched in a game and missed tackles in others. Towards the end of the season, though, he began to make a huge impact. He was flying all over the field, making play after play. He finished with 107 tackles, five tackles for loss, and a sack.

Expect Staley and his defensive staff to help Murray take the next step in his game and really flourish into a great linebacker. He has the knowledge and the instincts to be even better in year two.

Grade: B