As is the norm, we’re looking at each and every pick between these years the Chargers made and giving them a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the Chargers drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
With Philip Rivers already on the roster they didn’t need to.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Not so much, but there is time for some players to turn it up.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Antoine Cason, CB (27th overall pick in 2008): After finally starting to realize his potential in 2010, last season was something of a step back for Cason. Quite clearly talented, wherever you find a starting caliber cornerback it proves a good move.
Louis Vasquez, G (78th overall pick in 2009): Not coming off his best year (largely as a result to a disappointing last quarter to the season), it still shouldn’t be forgotten that Vasquez has been a Day 1 starter who has performed in an above average fashion. May never dominate, but is a reliable player on a line that has lacked them.
Ryan Mathews, RB (12th overall pick in 2010): You’d like for him to cut down on the fumbling, but Mathews took a big step forward in 2011 that showed he could be the long term answer at the running back spot. Finished ninth overall in our elusive rankings last year.
Donald Butler, LB (79th overall pick in 2010): After missing his rookie year, Butler was on a mission to make up for lost time as a sophomore. The primarily two-down player finished with a +10.2 run defense grade and will be looking to build on the number of snaps he sees in future seasons.
Cam Thomas, NT (146th overall pick in 2010): The long term answer to the question of who replaces Jamal Williams? Thomas stepped up in his second season, actually outperforming Antonio Garay and doing enough to suggest that 395 snaps are too few a number for him.
0.0: It could have been worse
DeJuan Tribble, CB (192nd overall pick in 2008): The former sixth round pick stuck about with the Chargers for the best part of a year before eventually being cut.
Corey Clark, T (234th overall pick in 2008): Failed to make much of a contribution and was cut for good 20 months after being drafted.
Vaughn Martin, DE (113th overall pick in 2009): The frustrating thing about Martin is that he can look pretty handy, but those plays of promise are often washed out by spells of nothingness where he is moved about at will by offensive linemen. A solid rotational player who needs to have his snaps limited (especially in passing situations).
Tyronne Greene, G (133rd overall pick in 2009): Looked better than he ever did when he moved to left guard (outside of a complete roasting against the Raiders in Week 10 last year). You would rather Greene wasn’t starting, but he’s good depth for an offensive line and has proved as such for the Chargers.
Kevin Ellison, S (189th overall pick in 2009): In 415 snaps as a rookie Ellison showed plenty of promise as an in-the-box safety. Unfortunately, problems with an arrest stemming to possession of drugs left him a headache the Chargers didn’t want to deal with.
Demetrius Byrd, WR (224th overall pick in 2009): San Diego took a chance on an injured Byrd after the once promising prospect suffered serious injuries in a car accident. They kept him around for a year before deciding to move on.
Darrell Stuckey, S (110th overall pick in 2010): A possible starter in 2012, Stuckey has seen just 11 defensive snaps so far in his Chargers career. Avoids a negative grade by virtue of some good work on special teams last year.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Jacob Hester, FB (69th overall pick in 2008): If you’re going to spend a relatively high pick on a fullback they simply need to be a better lead blocker than Hester. Just not a player who is particularly good at anything, but versatile enough to be bad at a number of things.
Marcus Thomas, RB (166th overall pick in 2008): Claimed off waivers after his rookie pre season by the Lions, Thomas was way down the depth chart and an afterthought to the Chargers.
Gartrell Johnson, RB (134th overall pick in 2009): It’s never good when a fourth round pick is waived as a rookie as Johnson was.
Brandon Hughes, CB (148th overall pick in 2009): The former fifth round pick never got a chance to really establish himself with San Diego after a severe knee injury robbed him of his rookie year before being cut before the start of the 2010 season.
Jonathan Crompton, QB (168th overall pick in 2010): A waste of a pick, the Chargers stashed him on their practice squad for three days before releasing him and never looking back.
Dedrick Epps, TE (235th overall pick in 2010): Waived after less than five months with the club, he wasn’t even deemed worth a practice squad spot.
-1.0: What a waste!
Larry English, OLB (16th overall pick in 2009): Since being drafted by the Chargers, English has managed just 37 combined sacks, hits and hurries. By way of comparison Clay Matthews has managed 172. English has been put in a position to succeed but just hasn’t demonstrated the ability to be an impactful pass rusher.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.
The Chargers’ draft classes between 2008-2010 haven’t exactly set the world alight, though there is reason to believe that the 2010 class could turn out to be something special the more playing time the members get. Much like their AFC West neighbors the Raiders, San Diego don’t seem the type of franchise to be blinded by where they drafted someone, and with that in mind it will be interesting to see what becomes of the biggest bust in that period, Larry English. A solid, if at times unspectacular effort.