A.J. Smith and Norv Turner’s jobs are on the line, so this was a critical draft for the San Diego Chargers. Entering the draft, there were rumors about the Chargers trading up, which made sense if Smith and Turner felt they needed to land an impact player to help save their jobs. But they stayed put on draft day, and it payed off.
It was difficult to imagine a scenario in which Melvin Ingram fell the Chargers, but when he did their front office wasted no time snatching him up. Ingram may not technically be a starter in 2012, with Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson favored to occupy that role, but he will make a significant impact. He played a hybrid end/linebacker role in South Carolina, so he should be able to make a smooth transition in San Diego.
Kendall Reyes had value in the 2nd round, so I can’t argue with the selection too much. However, it’s tough to see how he fits into their immediate plans. He’ll compete with Vaughn Martin and Luis Castillo for playing time. It’s also possible that he is used as a part of a rotation, coming into the game in passing situations with Martin playing on the majority of run downs.
Brandon Taylor was a reach in the 3rd round, but there was such little depth in this year’s class of safeties that the Chargers likely felt the need to go off the board to fill a need. He may be given an opportunity to compete with Atari Bigby for the starting job at strong safety.
I love the selection of Lararius Green. He’s very raw, but has the potential to be an elite pass-catching tight end. He is now the heir apparent to Antonio Gates at tight end, but could be used in some two tight end sets this upcoming season. He’s a matchup nightmare, and has the potential to be a steal in the 4th round.
Johnnie Troutman was a reach in the 5th round and, on top of that, he is expected to miss the entire 2012 season due to injury. Unless a player has elite upside, which Troutman does not, it’s best to stay away from injured players in the draft.
David Molk fell much further than I expected. He’s a smart, physical interior lineman who could be given an opportunity to take over for Nick Hardwick in a year or two.
Edwin Baker also fell on draft day. The Chargers have limited depth behind Ryan Matthews, which should allow Baker to earn a roster spot.
Overall, the Chargers drafted a nice mix of players who can help immediately and can be groomed for the future. It’s a well-balanced class which should help save the jobs of A.J. Smith and Norv Turner.