Draft Grader: San Diego Chargers

Coming off a bounce back year the Chargers need to rely on their 2009-11 draft classes to the lights on in the competitive AFC West for 2014.

| 3 years ago

Draft Grader: San Diego Chargers

draftgraderSDfeatDraft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the College side of things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.

For me though that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries and a host of other things.

Up first? Well we’re moving in draft order so it’s the San Diego Chargers


+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round

Nope …

+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!

Not here …

+1.0: The scouts nailed it!

Louis Vasquez, OG (78th overall pick in 2009): The team can’t be thrilled with how Vasquez has taken his game to another level since leaving for Denver. They do have to be happy that he turned his rookie deal into a +31.4 grade over his 3,435 career snaps.

+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor

Donald Butler, LB (80th overall pick in 2010): While Butler isn’t coming off his best year, he has provided some stability to a linebacker unit struggling to find an identity the past five years. Will need to bounce back next year if this is to stay a positive.

Cam Thomas, DT (147th overall pick in 2010): The Chargers found a valuable and versatile defensive linemen in the fifth round of the 2010 draft who would go onto play 1,428 snaps for them. What’s more he wasn’t half bad in the process, earning a +4.7. He may ultimately have not been the answer at nose tackle but such is life.

0.0: It could have been worse

Vaughn Martin, DT (113th overall pick in 2009): Fourth rounder that managed 1,452 snaps but looked out of his depth when he was promoted to the starting lineup. Best served in a backup role because the more he started the worse he looked.

Tyronne Green, OG (133rd overall pick in 2009): Clearly not a tackle, Green struggled initially trying to find playing time at his favorite spot. Eventually became less of a liability at guard before moving onto New England.

Kevin Ellison, S (189th overall pick in 2009): Managed 440 snaps as a rookie that indicated a bigger future for him. However it was not to be and he was waived before the start of his second season in an interesting development.

Ryan Mathews, RB (12th overall pick in 2010): At times looks like one of the most natural runners in the league, moving so smoothly and fluidly you can’t help but think big things are going to come. But durability and fumble issues have plagued him and undo a lot of the good work he has managed when carrying the ball. Just about in the neutral zone with a big fifth year to come.

Darrell Stuckey, S (111th overall pick in 2010): With just 176 snaps on defense he hasn’t been a big force there, but has made a name for himself on special teams.

Marcus Gilchrist, CB (50th overall pick in 2011): Versatile defensive back who justified his draft selection with a much better 2013 where he held up at safety and nickel back duties in the team’s sub-package defense. He’s not the finished article by any stretch but he took a big step forward after a tough first two seasons.

Vincent Brown, WR (82nd overall pick in 2011): Needs to do more but you wonder if he might have missed his best opportunity yet. So far has looked a useful enough receiver in 1,331 snaps without ever making a convincing case for being irreplaceable.

Jordan Todman, RB (183rd overall pick in 2011): A preseason superstar with the Jaguars in 2013, Todman never got a snap on offense after being stolen off the Chargers practice squad.

Stephen Schilling, OG (201st overall pick in 2011): Spent three years with the team (large parts of which on the practice squad) before moving on to Seattle in March of this year.

Andrew Gachkar, LB (236th overall pick in 2011): Still with the team and already with 276 snaps on defense. He’s at the very least earned his selection and has the potential to move up if he can do more on defense or add to his 21 special teams tackles.

-0.5: That pick was not put to good use

Brandon Hughes, CB (148th overall pick in 2009): Fifth rounder who spent his rookie year on injured reserve before being released before his second season.

Demetrius Byrd, WR (224th overall pick in 2009):  Team took a chance on him recovering from a serious car accident. A year later he was no longer with the team. A gamble that didn’t pay off.

Jonathan Crompton, QB (169th overall pick in 2010): Fifth rounder who was ditched after a season in Charger colors.

Dedrick Epps, TE (236th overall pick in 2010): Another late round pick who was released before the start of his first rookie year.

Corey Liuget, DT (18th overall pick in 2011): His 2012 season showed what a talent he is. But either side of that he’s looked anything but, failing to generate much pressure and washed out against the run. Needs to be a more consistent player down to down to realize his potential and justify his draft slow.

Shareece Wright, CB (89th overall pick in 2011): Had a chance to stake a claim to be a long time starter but fluffed his lines in a tough 2013 where the nicest thing you could say about him is that others looked much worse. Given he’d managed 124 snaps his first two years he can be forgiven for taking time to adjust to NFL life though so he’s by no means a write off.

-1.0: What a waste!

Gartrell Johnson, RB (134th overall pick in 2009): Fourth rounder ditched before the start of his rookie regular season. Yuck.

Jonas Mouton, LB (61st overall pick in 2011): Not exactly a decorated second round pick, he’s missed two seasons on injured reserve and has managed just five snaps in the other. A hard luck story to some degree.

-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!

Not here but …

-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!

Larry English, DE (16th overall pick in 2009): English has somehow amassed a career -37.7 grade over his 1,349 snaps. Considering I regard a solid starter in the first as a failure what of a guy who is a way below average one who is used in a backup role? Amazing that he’s still with the team where surely a fresh start would be best for all concerned.


Here are the teams we’ve covered so far:

PIT | SL | SD | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • LightsOut85

    Come on now, I know PFF pays close attention to how players are used. Liuget didn’t just drop off a cliff in 2013 (that wouldn’t be logical). Chargers DC John Pagano was forcing square pegs into round holes by forcing Liuget & Reyes to play 2-gap (when both are typical 1-gap players). (Pagano apologists say it was to help the ILBs, since our NT situation wasn’t good (& neither were the ILB), but I don’t see how having no results up front would help anyone). Having a shoulder injury didn’t help matters either.

    This place is supposed to be about looking deeper. Ignoring something like this (being used in the opposite of the scheme you excel in), is a pretty shallow look.

    • bobrulz

      Here’s the problem though – he was the #18 pick in the draft. Players drafted that high are supposed to be multi-dimensional.

      • LightsOut85

        Multi-dimensional in terms of playing the run & pass/rush well (which Liuget did when used correctly). Name any DL out there who plays 1-gap & 2-gap at the same high level.

        Any NFL coach worth his salt plays players to their strengths (esp when you get pro-bowl type play when doing so) and Pagano failed to do that.

  • MachoMenos

    Please!?! Having Ryan Mathews in the IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE category is a joke. The main reason the Bolts rebounded last year was our running game. The good thing is that most teams discount him as much as you do so I’m sure he will have another great season.

  • Chris from Cape Cod

    I knew Ryan Matthews at 0.0 wouldn’t sit well with Bolt fans, as when he is (healthy) on the field, he’s a top 10 back, showing a lot of versatility going up the middle or outside. As a Pats fan I watched the Chargers O quite a bit to see Danny Woodhead (a fan favorite) as he played a huge role in Rivers comeback year (converting 1st downs) complementing Matthews.

  • BoltNative

    Where is Reyes in this? Or were they talking about Reyes when writing up Liuget’s section?

    • bobrulz

      He was a 2012 draft pick. This article only covers 2009-2011.