Draft Time Brings Uncertainty

A well respected NFL Draft expert joins Chargers Update with his take on the Draft and John Butlers' role. As the Draft draws closer Rob Curtis will continue to give his insight into the Draft as it pertains to the San Diego Chargers exclusively here at Chargers Update.

Every year around this time, Charger fans begin to talk about what needs the team has and "whom" the team should draft. The most appealing thing (outside of Bobby Beathard no longer blundering the draft) is that the draft is a living organism. One unexpected action has a ripple effect on every pick that follows. Some players thought to be 2nd round picks will go in the top 20 and some players projected as top 15 picks will unexpectedly fall. It happens every year.

I think we are very fortunate to have John Butler though I wish his FA track record was better. We have brought in a very nice assortment of young talent through the draft, which has helped offset some of those FA mistakes. I believe that looking at the man's past will help predict what John Butler will do this year. With that in mind, let's look at his first round picks.

2002Quentin Jammer, CB, Texas
2001 – LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, Texas Christian
2000Erik Flowers, DE, Arizona State
1999Antoine Winfield, CB, Ohio State
1998 – TRADED for Rob Johnson
1997Antowain Smith, RB, Houston
1996Eric Moulds, WR, Mississippi State
1995 – Rueben Brown, OG, Pittsburgh
1994 Jeff Burris, CB, Notre Dame
1993Thomas Smith, CB, North Carolina
1992John Fina, OT, Arizona

Certain things seem to stick out about John Butler: First, he understands draft depth better than most GM's and has a tendency to select premium positions. That said; he is not so locked in to that philosophy that he will not take that draft "dropper" (Eric Moulds and Antowain Smith were considered top 12 picks). With that in mind, I believe that the first round pick will be focused on one of three positions: DT, CB, or OL. I'll put my top 6 in order of "likelihood".

Johnathan Sullivan, DT, Georgia … Johnathan Sullivan was a standout in the SEC. Often compared to former Bulldog standouts, Richard Seymour (Patriots) and Marcus Stroud (Jaguars); I think his game is a little different than either of those players. He's quick off the ball with a great first step. He works hard to get to the ball and makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He could add some strength, but he fits both the Chargers needs and draft position rating.

Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State … One of the more underrated DT's in college football the past two years, the rest of the scouting community figured out at the Senior Bowl what everybody who watched OSU play already knew: Kevin Williams is a handful. This kid is Cornelius Griffin (NY Giants) with a more explosive first step. He plays with leverage, gets a lot of penetration, and forces mismatches because of those two factors. He isn't strong enough to handle double teams right now, but he fits the Chargers needs more than any other player in this draft.

Marcus Trufant, CB, Washington State … A GM has 36% of his first round picks at a specific position and it is no wonder why Charger fans suggest that Marcus Trufant might be the pick. I think he'd be a very nice complement to Quentin Jammer. An athletic cover man who can play press coverage and excels in zone, Trufant's biggest strength is his ability to plant and adjust on the ball. His biggest weakness? I don't know if he has the deep speed that you want in a CB. I just don't see Andre Woolfork (Oklahoma) as a John Butler type selection.

Jordan Gross, OT, Utah … He's projected as a top 10 pick right now and reminds me a great deal of another MWC/WAC standout, SDSU's Kyle Turley. There is an opportunity that he could fall to our pick. He's a big, physical presence who really knows how to use his hands. While he is not a "top" athlete as a LT, he certainly has the athleticism to play the position. He's also a fundamentally sound player with a nasty disposition.

Andre Johnson, WR, Miami … I doubt the physically gifted Johnson falls this far, but WR's are a position that generally drop and some Miami players come off very badly in interviews. At 6'2" 220 pounds, Johnson is a legitimate number 1 WR talent and if he falls to the 15th pick, the Chargers will definitely select him if Butler's history is any indication. He could be an Eric Moulds type WR at the pro level.

Eric Steinbach, OT/OG, Iowa … The OT/OG is the best OG prospect that I've seen since Steve Hutchinson came out of Michigan. This fundamentally sound 300 pounder is an extremely athletic former TE plays a smart game with leverage, balance, and technique. He's been well coached by Kirk Ferentz.

I know there are names missing and some will point to DeWayne Robertson, but I'd be stunned if he gets by Minnesota. Things change and we'll start hearing names associated with the Chargers. The past two years, the names that have been most positively associated with the Chargers during the last week of the draft have been LaDanian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, and Quentin Jammer. I think we'll get hints. I simply think those hints will point to one of the six players above. My prediction: Johnathan Sullivan will be wearing a Charger uniform.

Rob Curtis can be reached at the following link: Rob Curtis or at rcurtis3355@yahoo.com

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