2012 NFL Mock Draft: San Diego Chargers Special Edition
It’s that time of year again in the NFL.
The 2012 Draft begins on Thursday night with NFL fans everywhere anxious too see which prospects their team picks.
For the Chargers, the emphasis is expected to be on defense and finding a pass rusher will surely be a priority.
The team doesn’t have many needs on offense, but could do with bringing in a running back to backup Ryan Mathews.
Just who will the Chargers draft? Let’s find out.
Pick 18- Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama.
Overview: If Courtney Upshaw is available when the Chargers are on the clock at 18, I just can’t see the team passing on him. Upshaw is one of the top pass rushers in this year’s Draft and would be perfectly suited to play as an outside linebacker in the Chargers 3-4 defense.
Upshaw shows great agility in his reactions and often overpowers blockers the the line of scrimmage. He sometimes struggles when pursuing speedy ball carriers across the field and shouldn’t spend much time in coverage in the NFL.
With Phillips and Johnson tasked with stopping the run, Upshaw could be used with Antwan Barnes as a third down pass rusher.
Role on the Team: Upshaw will play often in the linebacker rotation and make a solid contribution to the defense.
Pick 49- Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame.
Overview: After Steve Gregory left in free agency to sign with the New England Patriots, the Chargers added safety Atari Bigby as his replacement. The problem with Bigby is his age and he has been injury prone in the past.
Harrison Smith is the second best safety in the Draft behind Mark Barron and would be a great player to pair with Eric Weddle at safety. A four year starter at Notre Dame, Smith is a Troy Polamalu type player who is equally impressive in stopping the run as he is in coverage.
He is projected to be an early second-round pick so the Chargers may be taking a risk if they wait until pick 49 to pick him.
Role on the Team: Smith will compete with Atari Bigby to start at strong safety.
Pick 78- LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon.
Overview: Just like Smith, the Chargers may be forced to move up if they want to select James. James is a dynamic runner who has explosive speed and is also a weapon is the passing game.
The Chargers are still looking to bring in a running back to backup starter Ryan Mathews, with Mike Tolbert gone to the Carolina Panthers and newly signed Le’ron McClain expected to be used more as a fullback. James could be used a dual threat similar to the way that the team used Darren Sproles.
He is projected to be a late second-round to early-third round pick and would be a great weapon to add to the offense.
Role on the Team: James will be used as a chance of pace back and see plenty of playing time on passing downs.
Pick 110- Nate Potter, Offensive Tackle, Boise State.
Overview: Potter has been a solid player for Boise State throughout his entire career whilst protecting Kellen Moore’s blindside. Chargers’ current right tackle Jeromey Clary is average at best and the team may look to bring in a player to compete with him for the starting role.
Potter has drawn many comparisons to New England Patriots first-round pick from last year Nate Solder as both are tall and talented but sometimes lacking in technique. He excels as a run blocker and will almost definitely make the switch to right tackle in the NFL.
If Potter is still available in round 4, he could turn out to be a steal for the Chargers.
Role on the Team: Potter will compete with Jeromey Clary to start at right tackle.
Pick 149- Vontaze Burfict, Middle Linebacker, Arizona State.
Overview: Once considered to be a potential top ten pick, Burfict has now fallen out of contention to be picked in the first round altogether. He has drawn several ‘red flags’ from teams who see his attitude problem as to big of a risk and he even managed to land on my list of the most overrated prospects in the Draft. (see https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/2012-nfl-draft-top-5-most-overrated-prospects/).
He is considered to be a lazy player who has an attitude problem and sometimes looks slow on tape. However, despite all these issues, he is still a talented player.
If he is falls all the way to the fifth round, it may be worth taking a risk of Burfict to add to the middle linebacking pair of Takeo Spikes and Donald Butler.
Role on the Team: Burfict will get playing time mostly as a backup during his Rookie season.
Pick 183- Cliff Harris, Cornerback, Oregon.
Overview: The Chargers could use another cornerback to add some depth to the secondary and Cliff Harris gets my vote. Like Burfict, Harris is a talented but troubled player who is likely to be picked in the latter rounds due to his off-the-field issues.
Harris had a fantastic 2010 and finished the year with five interceptions and four punt return touchdowns. He followed that up with a disappointing 2011 season and played in just six games following a series of run-ins with police.
Harris would join emerging players Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright in the Chargers secondary.
Role on the Team: Harris will push for playing time at cornerback and will also be used on special teams.
Pick 226- Antoine McClain, Guard, Clemson.
Overview: McClain has been a solid contributor to the Clemson offensive line and started the last seasons at left guard. As most Charger fans will now, the team lost veteran guard Kris Dielman after his was forced to retire due to injury.
McClain didn’t have the best of Combines and scouts were left disappointed in his lack of speed (he ran a 5.4 in the 40 yard dash) and strength (19 reps in the bench press). Even with these lackluster numbers, on tape, he’s still a decent run blocker who is expected to be a seventh round pick.
McClain would be solid player to bring in to compete with Tyronne Green and Louis Vasquez respectively.
Role on the Team: McClain will compete at both left/right guard and don’t be surprised if he makes the final roster.
Pick 250- Eddie Pleasant, Safety, Oregon.
Overview: With their final pick in the Draft, the Chargers will look to add some depth to the secondary. Pleasant will join fellow safety second-round pick Harrison Smith on the roster.
Pleasant was a consistent contributor during his time at Oregon. A reliable tackler, he is solid in the run game but can be sometimes vulnerable in coverage.
With the Chargers already having several safeties, Pleasant will face a battle in preseason to make the final roster.
Role on the Team: Pleasent will compete with Darrell Stuckey and DeAndre McDaniel for a roster spot.
So that’s my mock draft for the San Diego Chargers. Let’s hope that Norv Turner, A.J. and co. will take notes for Thursday night.
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Thanks for reading.