Now that the “more exciting” part of the draft is over, it’s the time where the goal is to find hidden gems that help the team in any way possible. Oftentimes, this is where scouts and general managers make their money and reputation. These are the players that may not even make the roster or could end up starting for the team week 1. The following are some of the players I believe would be nice fits for the Chargers and whom Tom Telesco should target to improve the team.
Make sure to select your favorite option in the poll at the end of the article!
Who To Take At 112? Predicting The Chargers 4th Round Pick
AJ Dillon – RB, Boston College
By this point in the draft, the Chargers will likely be selecting players who could complement their overall team identity as opposed to players who will be expected to come in and impact instantly.
Someone who fits that bill nicely for the Chargers is running back AJ Dillon from Boston College who had a great college career. While at Boston college he set numerous school records including rushing yards in just three seasons and was just 220 yards shy of the ACC record. This is the pick that I would love to see, especially at this point in the draft. He presents a very low risk as he has been a productive player every time he stepped on the field for any team he has played for.
Dillon has been projected to be selected around the 4th/5th round. Running back is not a major position of need for the Chargers, however as a team without a true three-down back, they will likely be a back-by-committee unit.
As good as Austin Ekeler is, he isn’t a true power back that will be needed on the early downs. This is where AJ Dillon could come in, and along with Justin Jackson and Ekeler, form a formidable trio of backs.
Dillon is a pure power back and at 6 ft and 250 pounds, plays like a tank, and has no fear ramming into defenders. He would come in and be one of the heaviest running backs in the league and would weigh more than all current starters in the league. He also has a nose for the endzone, which he found 14 times, and resulted in a third-team All American selection as well as a second consecutive All ACC selection.
Dillon won’t be a major factor in the passing game, but with Ekeler on the team, he won’t need to be. Instead, he will be brought in as a power runner occasionally or on short-yardage situations due to his full-back like build and his ability to absorb contact and muster extra yards. Despite him being on the “bulkier” side for an RB, he has surprisingly good acceleration as demonstrated by his 4.51 40-yard dash. He will not bring a whole lot of flashiness and elusiveness to the position, but being a 4th round pick, what is asked of him will be very limited.
As a 4th round pick, AJ Dillon poses very little risk and a potentially high reward due to his strength and speed and his ability to run between the tackles. Between Ekeler, Jackson, and Dillon, the Chargers running offense could pick up right where it left off despite the loss of former bell-cow Melvin Gordon.
Anfernee Jennings – LB, Alabama
Once again, Anfernee Jennings isn’t a prospect who will likely see the field much, if at all this season. However, with Melvin Ingram’s free agency looming coupled with all of the players the Chargers have to pay next season including his running mate Joey Bosa, it is very likely that Ingram will be the odd man out so it is not a bad idea to find his potential replacement.
Anfernee Simmons played a crucial part in Nick Saban’s defense and saw his role increase with the season-ending injury to Dylan Moses. At 6’2 and 256 pounds, Simmons is very sound in the pass rush and the run defense. He is very aggressive at the line of scrimmage and very tactical and intelligent with the use of his hands and strength. Getting snaps with a stacked defensive line and a talented secondary allowed Jennings to play to his strengths and provide quality snaps and eventually break into the starting role down the line.
He saw his sack total increase every year having 8.5 sacks this past year against some of the best offensive lines in the country. One of the best characteristics of Jennings is his versatility. Whether it be as a bull rusher or coming off the edge, Jennings has proven to be very effective at not only stopping the run and getting to the quarterback but also getting his hands on the ball and the ability to deflect passes at the line of scrimmage. He is not the most athletic player and strongly relies on his high IQ.
As productive as Jennings has been, he does come with a myriad of concerns which is why he isn’t projected higher in many drafts. First and foremost, he has a history of injuries in college which may serve as a red flag to NFL teams. His 2017-18 season ended abruptly in the National Championship game due to a serious knee injury he sustained. He had already missed a few games earlier in the season due to his ankle.
Jennings does lack athleticism of the ideal amount for someone playing his position. He doesn’t have the speed and agility you would like in an edge rusher and often has gone quiet for long periods of time. If Jennings is able to work on getting that burst that defensive coordinators covet, he could turn out to be a nice day 3 steal for the Chargers.
That being said, I am not too huge on taking Jennings as he primarily would be most effective in a traditional 3-4 system, although I think he could adjust well, there are other positions that would be more suited to shore up with the 4th round pick and this is a position that could be addressed next year either in free agency or the draft.
Devin Duvernay – WR, Texas
Wide receiver is definitely a position I believe needs to be addressed in this draft. However, this draft class is one of the most stacked WR classes in recent memory, and drafting one can wait till this round as there are other more important positions to be addressed such as the offensive line and the quarterback position. With the departure of Travis Benjamin, who only played in five games last season, there isn’t a clear cut WR3 behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. This is where I believe Duvernay fits in perfectly.
Having gone to college in Texas, I got the chance to watch Devin Duvernay play a few times. While he won’t wow you with his size like some of the top WRs, he brings great toughness, athleticism, and experience to whatever ball club he gets drafted by. He would be a great option out of the slot and has great athleticism and elusiveness that is going to keep defensive coordinators up all night.
As presumably a fifth option for receiving plays behind Allen, Williams, Henry, and Ekeler, Duvernay will have plenty of opportunities to succeed. His ridiculous speed is portrayed by his 4.39 40-yard dash which places him at a tie for 5th among wide receivers. What the Chargers now lack since Benjamin’s departure is a true speed threat that can confuse defenses and spread the field, and Duvernay would add another element to this already stacked offense. Duvernay finished in the top 5 in both receptions and receiving yards and a major reason for that was his ability to play both as a deep threat and a slot receiver.
Despite all of his excellent attributes athletically and his great production, Duvernay needs to shore up his route running abilities as he is often slow on his cuts and switches which allows cornerbacks to stay with him. He is also on the smaller end for WRs at just 5’10.
At the next level, Duvernay is going to have to rely on his speed and elusiveness to beat DBs as he is not the type to be able to box out defenders like Mike Williams or have the route running capabilities of a Keenan Allen. However, serving as the WR3 in that situation would suit him nicely.