Los Angeles Chargers 2017 NFL Draft retrospective

Los Angeles Chargers, NFL Draft Retrospective

How should the Los Angeles Chargers feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

After a miserable 5-11 season, the Chargers were looking to get some impact players in order to turn things around.

In addition, Anthony Lynn had been hired as the team’s new head coach following the dismissal of Mike McCoy.

It would be a key draft for the Chargers, who held the No. 7 overall selection in the first round. Most felt that the team needed to focus on bolstering the offensive and defensive lines early in the draft, but general manager Tom Telesco has built a reputation of drafting the best player available, rather than focusing on one need.

That left several options open with the team’s first-round pick and there was really no consensus on who that player would be.

Original Grade

FanSided: B

“Last year, injury struck the Chargers in the worst way. While it hit every position, where it seemed to hurt the most was at wide receiver. Keenan Allen has missed 23 games in the past two seasons, and without him, the Chargers receiving corps lacks a true number one. Travis Benjamin was up and down and Stevie Johnson was completely out of the lineup which leads to major snaps out of Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams.”

Draft Class

Round 1 (No. 7)

Mike Williams

Wide Receiver, Clemson

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

Though there were some mock drafts out there that correctly had Williams going to the Chargers here, the general consensus was that the pick was a bit of a reach in the top 10 considering Williams had faced a career-ending injury during college.

His upside was intriguing, though, as he had put up great numbers in his final year with the Tigers. If healthy, he would be a great No. 2 opposite Keenan Allen. But health has been an issue, particularly early on.

His numbers have been up and down. In 2018, he found the end zone 10 times. This past season, he went over 1,000 yards receiving but scored only two touchdowns despite an incredible 20.4 yards per catch. Williams has been good for the Chargers but he has also been wildly inconsistent.

The hope is that he’ll still pan out for the team over time.

Round 2 (No. 38)

Forrest Lamp

Guard, Western Kentucky

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

Almost everyone felt that this pick could end up being the steal of the entire draft. Many analysts had a first-round grade on Lamp and for the Chargers to be able to get him in the second
round, it seemed like a major bonus.

But Lamp has failed to make an impact. Between injuries and the coaching staff not showing trust in him early in his career, he’s had a hard time finding the field. Just when it looked like things would turn around for him in 2019, a broken fibula ended his season.

To this point, Lamp has played in nine games in his career, making two starts.

Round 3 (No. 71)

Dan Feeney

Guard, Indiana

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

Back-to-back picks on the offensive line? Early in the draft? Chargers fans were loving this. The idea of pairing Lamp and Feeney on the offensive line for years to come seemed scintillating.

Feeney has been much more available than Lamp and his career got off to a much more positive start as he was named to the PWFA All-Rookie Team. But in the two years since that, he has slipped in the minds of most Chargers fans, who now feel he is completely replaceable.

Able to line up at multiple positions, Feeney has played guard in his first three years with the team but like Lamp, needs to turn in a big 2020 season if he wants to remain in the team’s plans.

Round 4 (No. 113)

Rayshawn Jenkins

Safety, Miami

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

The selection of Jenkins was an exciting one when it was made as fans were hoping to see
Telesco address the safety position. Getting an athletic, hard-hitting player from one of the best football schools in the country seemed like a  great place to do that.

Jenkins’ future with the team still seems to be in question following the second-round selection of Nasir Adderley in 2019. When he and James are healthy, the team likely wants to see them as the starting safety combination. Phillips may still be in the team’s plans as well. But after a strong 2019 campaign, Jenkins should get a shot to be a part of the defense going forward.

Round 5 (No. 151)

Desmond King

Cornerback, Iowa

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

It was shocking to see King still on the board at this point and at least in 2017, he was the best rookie on the team. The Chargers lined King up at many positions, including kick and punt returner. But he found a lot of success as the team’s slot corner in sub-packages and he has been one of the best in the league in that role.

In his first two years in the league, King had four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. He also has two career punt returns for touchdowns. He had a down year in 2019 with no interceptions and he allowed a high rate of completions to be made when the ball was thrown in his direction, but he has all the ability to bounce back in 2020.

King remains arguably the best pick in this draft class.

Round 5 (No. 190)

Sam Tevi

Tackle, Utah

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

Tevi was the third offensive lineman selected in this draft. Depending on which Chargers fan you talk to, he is either absolutely terrible or he has done a great job in a fill-in role, there is no in-between.

Injuries to various players have forced Tevi into more action that was expected. He made one start in 2017 but in the last two seasons, he has started in 29 of the team’s 32 regular-season games, usually at one of the tackle spots. He has held his own, but he is a sixth-round pick, so he’s far from perfect.

Round 7 (No. 225)

Isaac Rochell

Defensive tackle, Notre Dame

CURRENT TEAM: Los Angeles Chargers

For a seventh-round pick, the Chargers have gotten some good mileage out of Rochell. He made the team’s 53-man roster in 2017 and the following year, made three starts for the team and collected five sacks. He came into 2019 as a darkhorse candidate to have a big season.

But much like King, Rochell regressed and had a quiet year. He didn’t make any starts, didn’t get any quarterback sacks and only had 10 tackles.

For Rochell, he will need to prove that he still belongs this summer or he could be looking for work somewhere else in the league. At 24 years old and with 35 regular-season games of experience under his belt, there should be a spot for him somewhere if there isn’t one in Los Angeles.

Bottom Line

This draft class was a great way to start the tenure of Lynn as the team’s new head coach. He and Telesco had a clear plan of attack and appeared to get the players that they wanted. Good evidence of that is the fact that all of these players remain with the team, which not many teams from that draft can say.

It will be interesting to see how Lynn handles each of these players this offseason now that he has been rewarded with a contract extension. Does the team still feel these players can help attain the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl, or will the Chargers use the upcoming draft to find an upgrade for guys like Feeney and Lamp? Does Jenkins fit into the team’s plans with multiple talented young safeties also on the roster?

These will be some of the more important questions this offseason.

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