COSTA MESA, Calif. ( Associated Press) — Brandon Staley’s first year as head coach was all about molding the Los Angeles Chargers into a tough team on either side of the line of scrimmage.
It Continued During This Week’s NFL DraftWhere three of the team’s nine selections were offensive or defensive linemen.
“If you’re not good up front none of your plans come to life. If you’re not good up front, as a play-collar, it’s really hard to go for it,” Staley said. “I want to be known as a tough, tough football team that can beat you any way you want – offense, defense, kicking game. I think we’re pretty close to that.”
The Chargers took the offensive guard in the first round, choosing Boston College’s Zion Johnson with the 17th overall pick., Johnson will be a Week 1 starter on right guard after not re-signing Michael Scofield and Ode Abushi. Johnson also started a year in the right tackle for the Eagles, but Staley and general manager Tom Telesco see him more as an interior linesman.
Los Angeles also added Georgia offensive lineman Jamari Salier in the sixth round. Salier played all five positions on the offensive line during his time at Georgia, but his best fit may also be on guard, though the Chargers still needed the right tackle.
The Chargers paired a defensive lineman with UCLA’s Otito Ogbonnea in the fifth round. He added defensive tackles to Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day in free agency, but Jerry Tillery has been inconsistent during his three NFL seasons.
Johnson earned a master’s degree in Cyber Security Administration at Boston College. He said he decided to enroll in the program because it made the most sense after graduating in computer science.
“It matches well with computer science where I can go more hacking routes and take some classes that others weren’t capable of because of my background,” he said. “When I first started taking the class, it’s very interesting because the terms are so new. What you think of as espionage or cyber terrorism are very loaded terms that go into a lot. Where one person thinks of it as espionage. which may be allowed in some circumstances, while others may see it as terrorism.
“As much as a technical subject, it is also heavily embedded in the law because international law plays a big role in cyberterrorism, cyber espionage, hacking, and what is allowed and what is not.”
The Chargers looked fairly safe with Darwin James and Nasser Adderley, but they went that route in the third round with Baylor’s selection of JT Woods.
Woods had nine interceptions over the past two seasons, including six last year, tied for the most in the Football Bowl subdivision. In addition to his knack for picking, Woods ran a 40-yard dash time at 4.36 seconds in the NFL Scouting Combine, tied for second-fastest among Safaris.
“The fact that we have some of these guys who can really cover, and that’s what JT can do. He’s tall and he’s fast – like, legitimately football fast,” said general manager Tom Telesco. “He has really good ball skills, turns the ball, plays aggressively, has a really good feel for the game. He’s a really interesting player.”
who else did they get
Los Angeles added a running back for the third straight year, selecting Texas A&M’s Isaya Spiller in the fourth round and Purdue’s Xander Horvath in the seventh.
He addressed the cornerback on Saturday with two late-round picks with Wake Forest’s Jaser Taylor in the sixth round and Mississippi’s Dean Leonard in the seventh.
How did they do it
The Chargers originally had nine picks in the draft, but settled a pair of seventh-round compensatory challenges (254 and 255 overall) for Chicago. Los Angeles got back their sixth-round pick the following year, having initially been traded to the Bears as part of Khalil Mack’s trade.
What will happen next?
Los Angeles still needs to add depth to the inside linebacker as well as figure out who will be the starter in the right offensive tackle. Telesco has also not announced that it will pick up a fifth-year substitute on defensive tackles and a 2019 first-round tillery.
“The draft is funny because we are drafting players for more than just positions,” Telesco said. “Obviously, your first round pick, that guy is probably going to fill a need right away. In the second round, it’d be nice to have a bigger role, but after that everyone, these are just people we hope they can get into.” You can earn a role, play certain teams and then develop into players on the road.
“These guys aren’t getting into early roles or really big roles until they’ve really earned it in training camp.”
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