NFL Draft

Chargers Show Renewed Faith in Class of ’15


San Diego’s selections in the 2016 draft made one thing perfectly clear: The Chargers still have a lot of faith in their 2015 draft class, too.

GM Tom Telesco spent a sixth-round pick on FB Derek Watt, who was the lead blocker at Wisconsin for 2015 first-round pick Melvin Gordon.

Telesco said after the draft the Wisconsin connection had “nothing” to do with Watt’s selection, but a short time later, John Spanos hinted that may not be entirely true.

“We’re excited to pair [Watt] back with Melvin and rekindle some of the magic there,” Spanos told the team’s official website.

The Chargers also demonstrated a lot of faith in 2015 third-round pick Craig Mager, who may be thrust into the starting spot opposite Jason Verrett if Brandon Flowers does not bounce back to form.

The Chargers had several opportunities to draft competition for Mager — Eric Murray was tempting in the fourth round, and Harlan Miller was really tempting in the sixth — but the Chargers opted to put all their trust in the second-year Texas State product.

Another 2015 draftee who feels great about last weekend is Kyle Emanuel. The North Dakota State product had a lump in his throat when the Chargers selected Joey Bosa with the No. 3 overall pick, but it was not long thereafter Telesco announced Bosa was picked as a defensive end, not an outside linebacker.

It is unusual for a team to announce such details so soon after making a selection. The default answer would have been for Telesco to say, “We’ll let John Pagano figure out the best way to use Bosa.” Instead, Telesco announced the team’s plans immediately, reassuring Emanuel that he would still be the top backup edge rusher behind Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu.

That’s an important distinction, especially with Ingram and Tourek Williams in contract years.

Heck, the 2016 draft was even kind to the 2015 rookies who made the squad as undrafted rookies.

In our recent depth chart projection, all four players who made last year’s team as undrafted rookies are back again in some capacity; Josh Lambo and Tyrell Williams are on the active roster, while Tyreek Burwell and Nick Dzubnar are on the practice squad.

Lambo even got the same reunion treatment as Gordon, as Telesco reunited him with fellow Aggies specialist Drew Kaser in the sixth round of this year’s draft.

“I’m obviously really excited to be back with Kaser,” Lambo said. “We’ve stayed in touch and texted probably every week since I left A&M. He’s a great football player and an even better person.”

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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