Chargers general manager Tom Telesco joined Dan Sileo of XX1090 recently to talk about the upcoming draft, among other topics. Here are some notable takeaways:
How much are you looking at game film vs. guys in shorts?
"The game film is 80, 85, 90-percent of the evaluation. The shorts and t-shirts at the combine — yes, we did watch that, but even in March and April, we’re still watching game film. I’m still going back and refreshing myself on some players I may have seen in the fall, doing some new work on some players, watching some real football film and not combine work. It’s heavily on what they’ve played in with their helmet and shoulder pads, and then there’s everything else we have to take into it too, as far as medial, character and psychological."
How do you handle replacing a signature player like Antonio Gates?
"Obviously we’re not looking to replace Antonio because we re-signed him this year, but we know his career isn’t going to go on for the next 10 years. So we do try and back ourselves up and develop whoever that next player is going to be, and we also know that whoever that next front-line tight end is going to be, they’re never going to replace Antonio Gates. I mean, he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame. So you’re not looking for someone to come in and just jump right into his shoes. It’s not possible. But we are looking for players who have the same traits as Antonio has, and one of them with him is [that] he's such an incredible teammate and [his] work ethic. The one thing I noticed with him when I arrived here is he still has that college free agent attitude, that he feels he needs to go out and make the team every year. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has all that physical talent -- there’s no doubt -- but he also has that mental side of it too.
On the draft:
"[Fan interest] is in the No. 3 pick, but we’ve got seven rounds, eight picks. College free agency is very important to us too. We’ll put as much work into those top six, seven, eight, nine players as we do into the back end of the draft. It’s all very important to us."
"It’s always value-based as far as what you might have in the top five, and if you trade down, what you could get with it. That’s why you have to know the whole draft. You can’t just spend all your time on the top five players."
"The way I've been brought up is we scout every position and we need to know every position, because you never know what might happen down the road. You have to have a good feel for where the value is in that first round. At No. 3, we’re in an interesting spot and a lot of that could dictate what happens above us. There's a new general manager in Tennessee and a whole new front office in Cleveland, so they don’t have a proven track record where we could see what they’ve done before, maybe get a feel for it. So it will be new, but we’ll be prepared for whatever happens in the picks before us."
"When you’re in the top five, there’s usually not as much action as there is in the middle and late in the first round, and that’s the way it’s been for the last ten years. There just hasn’t been a lot of trades in the top five. I'm not saying there won’t be this year, there still could be, but those are talks we’ll have with some different teams. We had some talks last week, I'm sure we’ll have some talks this coming week and the following one, and I'm sure we’ll see how it goes."
What's the biggest strength on your team besides Philip Rivers?
"We have a lot of young talent on defense that’s really coming along… We saw at the end of the year, those guys really came on. Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu, Jason Verrett and both (Manti Te'o and Denzel Perryman) -- we saw some really good improvement there. I think with a lot of our roster, we do have some young players that are developing, and this is another year under their belt, another year of development in our offseason program, to try and help us take that next step."