Jatavis Brown

Impact Rookies: San Diego Chargers

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the San Diego Chargers’ draft class:

First Round – Joey Bosa, DE (Ohio State, No. 3 overall)

Is San Diego regretting their draft day surprise? Many felt that Jalen Ramsey was a perfect fit for the Bolts as he could have filled the free safety role. Instead, they passed on the best defensive player in the draft to take defensive end Joey Bosa. As camp approaches, Bosa and the front office are at an impasse over his contract. Joey Bosa

Bosa is scheduled to start at left defensive end, where the Chargers let former second round pick, Kendall Reyes, also leave the complex to join Weddle in Baltimore. After a promising rookie year that saw Reyes tally 5.5 sacks, nine stops for loss and nineteen QB pressures, Reyes failed to impress during his three years as a starter, making two sacks and 32 hits through fifteen assignments with the first unit last year.

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Bosa was suspended for the 2015 season opener and was slow to get back into his usual “bull in a china shop” self in 2015. Coming off a 12-sack, 21.0-tackle-for-loss 2014 national championship campaign, Bosa saw his numbers dip to five sacks in 2015. He did post sixteen stops behind the line of scrimmage, tying for 15th on the school season-record list, adding fourteen QB pressures. Eight of his tackles in the backfield came on third-down snaps and the opponents were held to a rushing average of 0.43 yards on plays directed at him. He would close out his career third in OSU annals with 26 sacks and fourth with 50.5 tackles-for-loss.

Bosa’s outstanding instincts shined throughout his career. He displays improvement in the strength department, as his body has begun to mature to NFL level. The first thing you notice on film is that he plays with a high motor and has excellent initial quickness to surprise the lethargic offensive lineman. He shows above average balance working down the line and in pursuit. He gains advantage with his sudden moves and change of direction agility, doing a nice job of using his hands and arm extension to avoid low blocks and maintain balance on the move. He is a quick twitch type of player with the natural movement skills to pursue from the backside, shooting the inside gaps, evident by his pass defense performance that flattened Christian Hackenberg on a fourth-and-5 play to secure a victory over Penn State in 2014. He shows good body control working down the line to take an inside gap as a bull rusher. He runs with a long stride, building acceleration nicely. He flashes initial quickness along with sudden explosiveness off the line to surprise a lethargic blocker, and on the move, he is not as quick to redirect.

While Bosa only sealed the deal with five sacks in 2015, he did record fourteen QB chase-downs, including eight on third-down snaps and two on fourth-down plays. While he was effective as a pass rusher in 2014, he really has yet to develop an array of pass rush moves, relying more on his length and raw power to beat blocks on his path to the quarterback. He is known more for that power, but as he matures, he needs to be more efficient with his swim- and rip-move techniques. In any event, he can be an impact player for the Chargers in 2016 – once he gets his contract sorted out.

Read more about the Chargers’ rookie class..

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AFC Draft Signings: Chiefs, Texans, Jaguars

The Chiefs have signed second-round pick Chris Jones, a source tells PFT (Twitter link). The defensive lineman out of Mississippi State becomes KC’s first rookie to sign. Jones’ stock rose in the weeks leading up to the draft as more and more teams zeroed in on interior pass rushers.

Here are the rest of today’s draft signings from the AFC:

  • The Texans signed fifth-round nose tackle D.J. Reader, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (via Twitter).
  • The Jaguars sign sixth-round quarterback Brandon Allen, as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets.
  • The Jaguars signed sixth-round linebacker/defensive end Tyrone Holmes, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Linebacker Jatavis Brown inked his rookie contract with the Chargers, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The Akron product was taken in the fifth-round.
  • The Jets signed seventh-round punter Lachlan Edwards, according to his agency on Twitter.
  • The Patriots signed sixth-round linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill to a $2.44MM deal, including a $100K signing bonus, as his slot dictates, Wilson tweets.
  • The Steelers announced the signing of seventh round draft picks Demarcus Ayers and Tyler Matakevich. Ayers, a wide receiver/returner from the University of Houston, and Matakevich, a linebacker from Temple, are now the first two Pittsburgh rookies to sign from this year’s class.
  • The Ravens signed fifth-round defensive end Matt Judon, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Texans signed fifth-round safety K.J. Dillon, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.

Draft Rumors: 49ers, Jets, Patriots, Panthers

Earlier this evening, PFR’s Rob DiRe published his first mock draft of 2016. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in this year’s NFL draft. Click here to check it out.

Here are the latest draft rumors:

  • The Cowboys, 49ers, Eagles and, surprisingly, the Jets have all inquired about moving up to the No. 1 pick in the draft, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.Net reports. The Jets have the 20th selection, so it’s difficult to envision them jumping 19 spots and Tennessee dropping the same amount of places. The Cowboys, 49ers and Eagles, meanwhile, are scheduled to pick in the top eight.
  • UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is paying a visit to the 49ers this weekend, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweeted earlier today Jack is a lock to be a top-seven pick.
  • The Ravens think highly of USC safety Su’a Cravens and could pick him if they trade down from sixth overall to the back half of the first round, per Pauline. Cravens will visit both the Colts and Lions next week, Pauline tweets.
  • German receiver Moritz Boehringer “impressed” with his sure-handedness and route-running skills at his workout Friday, Pauline reports. Representatives from the Bengals, Bills, Patriots, Broncos, Jets, Bears, Falcons, Saints and Panthers were in attendance.
  • Washington State offensive lineman Joe Dahl, a possible second-day pick, has a heavy workout/visit schedule forthcoming, Pauline writes. The Jets, Patriots, Buccaneers, Eagles, 49ers, Chargers, Panthers, Ravens, Vikings and Colts are all interested in Dahl.
  • The 49ers plan to visit with Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell, as do the Patriots and Eagles, a league source told Aaron Wilson of NFPost.com.
  • Oklahoma wideout Sterling Shepard has worked out for the Panthers and Texans, he told SiriusXM NFL Radio, and added that he’ll work out for the Rams next week (Twitter link).
  • Akron linebacker Jatavis Brown didn’t get an invitation to February’s combine, but he’s drawing plenty of pre-draft interest. Brown has visited with 10 teams, including the Steelers (previously reported), Rams and Chargers, per Rand Getlin of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Chiefs are also among those clubs, as Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star reported earlier this week.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

AFC Rumors: Taylor, Bills, Broncos, Steelers

Asked during an appearance on the NFL Network if Tyrod Taylor is the Bills‘ long-term solution at quarterback, Doug Whaley was somewhat non-committal in his answer.

We want him to be, he wants to be, and time will tell,” the Bills GM said, as NFL.com’s Kevin Patra writes. “But we’re excited about what he did last year — he went 8-6 as a starter. There is a lot of excitement around our football team.I’ll tell you this, I know he’s a big competitor and he’s going to want to raise his level of his game next year and take the next step and we are excited and we’re going to try to give him as much ammunition around him for him to succeed.

So what does that mean for a potential contract extension? Whaley says he won’t rule out a new pact being agreed to this season, but it’d have to be at the “right price.” In the interim, the Bills are keeping their options open and meeting with some of the top QBs in this year’s draft.

Here’s more out of the AFC:

  • GM John Elway and the Broncos have inquired about Taylor, according to Benjamin Allbright of AM1340 in Denver (Twitter link). A trade probably isn’t likely, as the Bills prefer to hang onto their quarterback and the Broncos are just exploring all their options, but it’s an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
  • Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak says the team worked out Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch at his pro day on Wednesday, as Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets. Denver will still bring Lynch in for an official pre-draft visit down the line, as Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post tweets.
  • The offensive line is definitely a priority for the Colts, but it appears they’re more focused on improving at center and guard rather than the tackle spots, Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes. “The interior of that offensive line, the center and two guard spots, is the focal point,” coach Chuck Pagano said. At the same time, there aren’t a ton of high-level interior lineman in this year’s class and Wells wouldn’t be surprised if they took a top pass-rusher or middle linebacker if there’s one on the board.
  • Auburn cornerback Jonathan Jones is visiting the Steelers today, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. Akron outside linebacker Jatavis Brown and North Carolina Central cornerback Ryan Smith are also among the prospects in Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

AFC Draft Updates: Bills, Lynch, Jags, Broncos

Most NFL teams have at least one representative in attendance at the pro day for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch on Wednesday, but the Bills got a closer look at the young signal-caller on Tuesday night, according to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN, who reports that Buffalo took Lynch out for dinner (Twitter link via Mike Rodak).

The Bills have a quarterback they like in Tyrod Taylor, but Taylor has just one year remaining on his contract with the team, and an extension is not believed to be close, so it will be interesting to see if Buffalo nabs a QB early in this year’s draft. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is in Memphis to check out Lynch.

Let’s round up a few more draft updates from across the AFC…