Rookie Projections for Final Four Draftees

San Diego's top two draft picks, Jason Verrett and Jeremiah Attaochu, fill obvious needs and have clearly defined roles going into their rookie seasons. Things are not so cut and dry with the Bolts' other four draftees, however. Here is a full analysis of Tom Telesco's final four selections along with projections for their contributions to the upcoming season.

NOTE: All the draftees covered in this article have already inked their rookie deals.

OL Chris Watt (Notre Dame, Round 3, Pick 89)

The selection of Chris Watt in the third round surprised many casual Chargers fans. After all, the team returns all five starters from last season's offensive line, as well as top interior reserves Rich Ohrnberger and Johnnie Troutman. But the Watt selection was made with an eye towards 2015. Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary are both entering the final year of their contracts, so it is likely Watt will supplant one of them after this season.

That is not to say Watt will spend his rookie year riding the pine. LG Chad Rinehart has been in the league five years and has never started more than 12 games in any season (he missed six games in 2013 with a toe injury). Hardwick started each game last season, but missed time during the playoffs with a neck injury.

There will be an interesting numbers crunch on the offensive line. If the team keeps three interior reserves (Watt, Ohrnberger and Troutman), it leaves room for only one backup tackle. Mike McCoy may be comfortable with that, though, given that Clary can slide back to his former position of right tackle if need be. The Chargers do not have a lot of standout options as far as backup tackles are concerned, with the candidates including Mike Harris, Kenny Wiggins and Willie Smith.

NT Ryan Carrethers (Arkansas State, Round 5, Pick 165)

Of all Telesco's picks outside the top 50, this one was the easiest to understand. The Chargers had a clear need at nose tackle after losing Cam Thomas in free agency and found great value in Carrethers. Blessed with prototypical girth (337 lbs.) and strength, Carrethers has a chance to claim the starter's role. Either way, he figures to see the field a lot as he rotates with Sean Lissemore and possibly Kwame Geathers.

There will be second-guessing with this selection. An argument could be made that Telesco should have stayed put in the second round (instead of trading up for OLB Jeremiah Attaochu) and selected NT Louis Nix. In that scenario, San Diego would have had to wait to land a pass rusher, but it would have stolen a nose tackle with a first-round grade and would have kept its fourth-round pick, as well.

But the nose tackle is not as essential in John Pagano's defense as it is in most 3-4 schemes (rarely asked to defend two gaps, although that is something Carrethers is certainly capable of doing). So it's understandable Pagano felt he could wait until the final day of the draft to address this position.

RB Marion Grice
RB Marion Grice (Arizona State, Round 6, Pick 201)

Grice is the player who must work the hardest to secure a spot on the 53-man roster. He has almost no chance of contributing on offense this season, as he his buried on the depth chart behind Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. He will have to establish himself as an explosive kick returner -- and likely cover kicks effectively, too -- to justify his place.

Grice will have to separate himself from a group of candidates that includes Eddie Royal, Woodhead, Eric Weddle and Marcus Gilchrist. The Chargers would prefer to spare those veterans from kick-return duties, but it will take a special effort from Grice or someone else (WR Tobias Palmer?) to convince Mike McCoy to dedicate a roster spot to a kick-return specialist.

If Grice can stick around this year -- either by returning kicks or claiming a spot on the practice squad -- his odds look a lot better in 2015, as Mathews and Woodhead are both scheduled to become free agents after this season.

WR Tevin Reese (Baylor, Round 7, Pick 240)

Telesco wanted a home-run hitter and found one in Reese. The big-play specialist has elite speed, athleticism and leaping ability. He is capable of stretching the field, something the Chargers were unable to do last season after Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd were lost to season-ending injuries.

Reese's ability to contribute in 2014 is directly tied to the health of Floyd, who is still recovering from a neck injury suffered early last season in Philadelphia. If healthy, Floyd will likely be San Diego's No. 4 receiver (behind Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Royal) and the one charged with igniting San Diego's deep passing game. That would knock Reese off the 53-man roster, as the No. 5 receiver spot figures to go to Seyi Ajirotutu because of his ability to contribute on special teams.

But if Floyd cannot rediscover his pre-injury form, the door is wide open for Reese. With a strong preseason, Reese could emerge as San Diego's deep-ball specialist in 2014 and potentially take over as the slot receiver in 2015, when Royal's contract is set to expire.

Will Carrethers prove to be the steal of the draft? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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