Analysis: Second-round draft gamble paid off for the Chargers
Tom Telesco and the Chargers had no particular plans to be a “winner” during last week’s NFL draft. The winning, Telesco said, matters only on Sunday.
Nevertheless, the team got good reviews for their seven-round haul that included wide receiver Mike Williams, guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney, defensive backs Rayshawn Jenkins and Desmond King, offensive tackle Sam Tevi and pass-rusher Isaac Rochell.
But the critics wouldn’t have been quite as kind if one well-placed gamble didn’t work in Telesco’s and the team’s favor.
Leaving the facility Thursday night after the first round of the draft, Telesco and the team’s scouting staff had Lamp as a clear target on Day 2. There were even brief talks about trying to get back into the first round to select the Western Kentucky guard.
As the first round ended, Telesco’s mind locked in on one train of thought ...
“Your first thought is, ‘He’s still on the board, he’s a player we really like. So, how do we get him?’ ” Telesco said in a phone interview. “You look at the teams that are in front of you, the teams picking before you, and you determine what their needs are, what style of offense they play, what type of linemen they use, what coaches are in their organization. And, you try to make a determination if he’ll still be there when you’re picking.”
And, the early determination was that he might not be there when the Chargers’ turn came around.
The Chargers engaged in trade talks with the Green Bay Packers — a team with a need at offensive lineman — about moving up to the first pick of the second round, but nothing materialized. A move up likely would’ve cost the Chargers a fourth-round pick.
“We just felt like if we sit here, there’s a good chance we can get him,” Telesco said of the Chargers’ pick at No. 38. “But, you never know 100%.”
The Chargers knew there were four teams picking ahead of them with needs on their offensive line — Green Bay, Seattle, Jacksonville and the Rams.
“You get a little anxious,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
While this was happening, Telesco was developing contingency plans, the work keeping him prepared (and his mind occupied) while the picks come off the board.
The Seahawks, up next, went defense and took defensive tackle Malik McDowell. The Chargers were pretty sure Arizona wouldn’t take an offensive lineman, meaning they had only one more team to dodge.
Only the Rams stood between the Chargers and Lamp, their clear target. And with the Rams deciding to move down in a trade with Buffalo, the Chargers’ draft room could all sigh in relief.
“When that trade happened, we knew we had our guy,” Lynn said. The Bills took a receiver, meaning Lamp was there for the Chargers, whose patience had paid off.
“We basically just sat there and sweat it out — and got him,” Telesco said.
Lamp impressed Lynn and the Chargers’ staff with his technique, versatility, size and ability to take on and dominate top-notch competition, as he did in Western Kentucky’s game with Alabama this past year.
“He’s just got good traits,” Lynn said. “He’s a very competitive young man, and that’s what kind of sold me on him.”
Less than 24 hours later, Lamp was in Los Angeles being introduced to Chargers fans at StubHub Center.
“It’s definitely a whirlwind,” Lamp said.
But inside the Chargers’ draft room, it was the result of a clear plan, good research and a little luck.
“I thought Tom and our staff did a hell of a job of doing their homework and preparation,” Lynn said. “We just kind of waited with great patience and the guy fell right to us. We didn’t have to give up anything, and we got the guy we wanted.”
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