NFL Draft 2015: AFC West Analysis

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San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are a team with a roster that should do better than a 9-7 record. Philip Rivers is an excellent quarterback, and a good draft would have allowed the Chargers to truly challenge in the AFC. The Chargers had a fairly strong free agency period, picking up wideouts Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson to provide some experienced weapons to the Philip Rivers passing machine. However, the offensive and defensive lines lacked depth, even after snagging Orlando Franklin and Mitch Unrein from the Broncos.

The key needs entering the draft were a running back to pair with Rivers’ pass-based offense and a pass-rush option, as well as depth on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Chargers’ draft is as follows:

1 15 Melvin Gordon RB 6’1″ 215 Wisconsin
2 48 Denzel Perryman ILB 5’11” 236 Miami
3 83 Craig Mager CB 5’11” 201 Texas State
5 153 Kyle Emanuel OLB 6’3″ 255 North Dakota State
6 192 Darius Philon DT 6’1″ 298 Arkansas

“I really like this kid. He lights up the room. He has special talent and ability. He catches the football well out of the backfield. When you watch him run in tight areas, that is what differentiates him.” – Mike Mayock

After Thursday night, I was worried. Melvin Gordon, often compared to Jamaal Charles, is quite simply, a fantastic first-round pick. Although the Chargers paid a hefty price to jump up two spots via the 49ers (a fourth-round pick this year and a fifth-round pick next year), Gordon has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler, and will aid Rivers in relieving pressure on the Chargers’ pass heavy offense.

In fact, Rob Rang of CBS sports says that the pick of Gordon, now makes the Chargers the top of the pile in the AFC West. However, I would take issue with this statement for one simple reason; the Chargers failed to address the weakness in their offensive line.

After taking a rookie running back, the Chargers needed to prioritize giving him a line to run behind, yet they didn’t draft one offensive linemen. Not one. I would therefore argue that, while Gordon is a fantastic pick and I believe Perryman will be a star at inside linebacker, the lack of depth on their offensive line is crippling the team’s chances of winning the AFC West.

This is not to say that the Chargers have picked badly, rather, they picked up some promising players. However, their draft had so much potential to be brilliant, rather than solid. Consequently, the Chargers are close to the Broncos, but are not quite there yet. They certainly have a shot of winning the AFC West title, but have to be considered underdogs to the Broncos.

Next: What about the Raiders?