Chargers Draft Projections: All Seven Rounds

We covered the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. We talked to the draft prospects. Now, it is time to finally unveil our first seven-round mock draft for your San Diego Chargers. We resisted the urge to give the team Melvin Gordon (as everyone else has projected) and came away with seven selections that would put the Chargers in outstanding position next season.

1. OL La’El Collins (LSU)

The Chargers need more size and physicality up front and Collins provides both in bunches. His skill-set is a little too similar to D.J. Fluker’s, but Tom Telesco would do well to take the best offensive lineman available and figure out who plays where later in the offseason. Collins is an athletic mauler who consistently moves the line of scrimmage. A starting offensive line of (left to right) King Dunlap, Orlando Franklin, Chris Watt, Collins and Fluker would be physically dominant. Plus, there is always a chance Collins and Fluker could flip-flop positions down the road.

2. DT Carl Davis (Iowa)

The Chargers would run the ball much better with Collins in the lineup, but they also must be better stopping the run. Enter Davis, who thrived at Iowa as a two-gap run stopper. But Davis is much more than that, with underrated quickness and strong technique. He could rotate at defensive end with Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes in the base defense, then replace NT Ryan Carrethers on passing downs to help create some push up the middle.

“I’ve seen teams that I’ve talked to that run a 3-4 and I’ve talked to some teams that run a 4-3,” Davis told me earlier this month. “Some teams see me as a 1-technique, a 3-technique, a defensive end, whatever. And that’s really a good thing for them to see me as a versatile guy who can play multiple positions.”

3. OLB Nate Orchard (Utah)

The Chargers need to add another edge rusher after losing Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. Orchard would be an excellent addition, as he is a productive player (17.5 sacks last season) who has a quick first step and is relentless in pursuit. He is stronger against the pass than the run, which is fine, because he figures to replace Freeney as a pass-rushing specialist while Tourek Williams takes over for Johnson as the edge-setting run defender.

Orchard is more comfortable as a 4-3 defensive end than as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but in San Diego’s hybrid scheme there is not much of a difference. He played both positions at the Senior Bowl and was excited for the opportunity, telling me: “It's going to help me throughout the draft process, having all these scouts get a feel for what I can do and understand me up close.”

4. RB David Cobb (MInnesota)

The Chargers finally tab a replacement for Ryan Mathews, the last free-agent defector Telesco has yet to adequately replace. Cobb is a powerful, workhorse runner who does the bulk of his damage between the tackles. He is a physical back who fights for yards after contact. He only caught 16 passes last season, but with Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown still on the roster, that is not something Cobb will be asked to do.

5. FS Clayton Geathers (Central Florida)

Geathers adds a lot of value. Firstly, he provides depth at free safety and insurance in case Eric Weddle leaves as a free agent after the season. Secondly, he could fill in at strong safety if the team opts to use Jimmy Wilson at cornerback in certain situations. Thirdly, he will be a big help on special teams, where the Chargers have already lost Andrew Gachkar and could lose Seyi Ajirotutu due to improved depth at receiver.

6. OT Darrian Miller (Kentucky)

The Chargers need a new swing tackle, as Willie Smith was a disaster last season and is currently a free agent. MIller has spent the last three years as Kentucky’s starting left tackle and boosted his stock with a strong performance in the East-West Shrine Game. He is considered a bit of a developmental project, but because he has ample experience against SEC competition, it is realistic to believe he is capable of winning the No. 3 tackle job as a rookie.

7. ILB Reshard Cliett (South Florida)

Cliett could be the proverbial “diamond in the rough,” with South Florida’s struggling football program providing the rough. Cliett enjoyed a productive senior season in which he tallied 37 tackles (including 7.5 for loss), six sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He could help fill the void created by Gachkar’s departure, both on defense and special teams. With better coaching and the chance to learn behind veterans like Donald Butler and Kavell Conner, Cliett could have a bright future in San Diego.

How do you feel about these projections? Join the discussion in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the team. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since '03. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories