Bolts Draft Projections: Senior Bowl Version

Chargers expert Michael Lombardo rolls out a team-specific mock draft with a twist: all of the Bolts' projected picks are players the team met with at the Senior Bowl. The Bolts demonstrated a heavy interest in each of these players and could fill all of their holes with the following five selections.

Round One: Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska

The Chargers finished last season with only three offensive tackles on their roster. One of them, Shane Olivea, is expected to move inside to guard next season. Nicks (6'5", 345 pounds) could start at right tackle as a rookie, bumping Jeromey Clary back to his more natural swing position.

The Chargers need their offensive line to excel next season, with Philip Rivers coming off ACL surgery and LaDainian Tomlinson trying to squeeze another couple seasons out of his prime. Nicks could be the stabilizing force that allows the skill players to reach their full potential.

Round Two: Traded this pick to the Miami Dolphins for Chris Chambers

Round Three: Jamar Adams, SS, Michigan

The Chargers traded away their 2008 third-round pick in last year's draft-day deal for Eric Weddle. However, the team expects to recoup a compensatory pick after losing LB Donnie Edwards in free agency. Adams (6'2", 210 pounds) has the size, speed and tackling skills to justify the selection.

The Chargers are expected to release FS Marlon McCree this offseason, leaving no depth behind Clinton Hart and Eric Weddle. Adams could back up Hart at strong safety, while Paul Oliver could slide inside and back up Weddle at free safety.

The Chargers used their 2008 fourth-round pick on CB/FS Paul Oliver
Todd Bennett/AP

Round Four: Used this pick in the 2007 supplemental draft on CB/FS Paul Oliver

Round Five: Jason Jones, DE/OLB, Eastern Michigan

Jones (6'4", 270 pounds) is one of the most versatile defenders in the draft. He played defensive tackle in college but projects as either a defensive end or an outside linebacker in San Diego's 3-4 scheme. The Oakland Raiders coaching staff allowed Jones to log some snaps at linebacker during Senior Bowl week and he looked comfortable playing in space.

Jones would play primarily on special teams as a rookie while providing depth at end and outside linebacker. That versatility is huge, as the Chargers have injury prone players at both positions – DE Luis Castillo and LB Carlos Polk.

Round Six: Marcus Harrison, NT, Arkansas

Harrison (6'3", 310 pounds) has the power and bulk to anchor the middle of the 3-4 defense. He would be responsible for spelling Jamal Williams, a task that becomes more demanding with each passing season. Harrison is quick and plays with great leverage, allowing him to collapse the pocket and make plays in the backfield.

Harrison would replace Brandon McKinney as the top reserve nose tackle. McKinney looked capable for most of last season but was unable to escape the inactive list during the playoffs.

Round Seven: Rafael Little, RB, Kentucky

Most people expect A.J. Smith to tab a running back much higher than this. However, Darren Sproles will be the top backup next season, so the Bolts only need a No. 3 runner. Tyronne Gross is capable of handling that job, as is Andrew Pinnock.

The Chargers plan on drafting another back to add to the mix, and Little could be a great fit. The Chargers could steal him late because he sprained his MCL during the Senior Bowl game, which will force him to undergo surgery and miss the Indy Combine. He is expected to be ready to play next season, and Smith has never been afraid to gamble on a talented player.

Little is an exciting player when healthy, boasting excellent vision, quick feet and an impressive burst. He averaged at least 5 yards per carry all four seasons at Kentucky. He is also a dangerous receiver out of the backfield, something Michael Turner certainly was not.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.

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