Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers Hit Home Run in the NFL Draft


The NFL Draft is an unpredictable process. General Managers must plan for several different scenarios that can happen during the actual draft process. A player that is rated high in the draft can fall for a for a variety of reasons.

In the 2018 NFL draft, that scenario came true for the Los Angeles Chargers. Below is the round-by-round recap for the 2018 Chargers draft:

Round 1 – Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

The Chargers got a surprise when Florida State safety Derwin James fell to them with the #17 pick of the first round. James was a consensus top ten pick in the draft. The fact that he was available was an absolute steal for the Chargers. James has the size and speed. He is 6’2”, 215 pounds, runs a 4.47 forty and has a vertical leap of 40”.

But what James really brings is versatility. As NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of James: "He can cover wide receivers. He can cover tight ends. He can go down in the box and hit you. The versatility of his game is critical. Today's NFL is a matchup league, and he's a matchup player, that's why his value is so high.”

In an interview after the draft with the Culver City Observer, James talked about what got him to this point and what he brings: “A lot of people have sacrificed for me to be here. It’s been a lot of countless hours of hard work and dedication. I’m excited to take the next step in my career.”

“I have speed. I have power, smarts, leadership mentality. I feel like I bring everything to the table. I feel like I’m going to have to come in to work for the job. I’m excited to be able to compete.” James should be a Day One starter for the Chargers.

Round 2 - Uchenna Nwosu, Linebacker, USC

The Chargers reached into the neighborhood to select Nwosu. He not only played at USC, but he grew up in Carson, so this is really coming home for Nwosu. He brings good size at 6’2” and 251 pounds and good speed at the Linebacker slot at 4.65 in the forty. A two-year starter at USC, Nwosu plays with a non-stop motor. He is very quick off the edge and should be an effective pass rusher. A player with upside.

Round 3 - Justin Jones, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina State

Jones was drafted to fill a need at defensive tackle and to add some depth. Jones was a two-year starter at North Carolina State. At 6’3”, 309 pounds, he brings good size to the middle of the Charger defensive line.

At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Jones had a very good week of practice and impressed scouts. He was very tough to block. The Chargers need a run-stuffer in the middle and Jones flashes ability as a run stopper, as he did at the Senior Bowl. He was also inconsistent in college and could be a boom/bust selection.

Round 4 - Kyzir White, Linebacker, West Virginia

White played in a box safety role at West Virginia. At 6’2”, 220 pounds, he is small for a linebacker, but he ran a 4.62 forty at his pro day and bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times at the NFL Combine. He is probably a weakside linebacker or hybrid/nickel linebacker with the Chargers. He has a reputation as a big-time hitter with solid tackling skills.

Round 5 - Scott Quessenberry, Center, UCLA

Quessenberry will add depth on the offensive line at both center and guard. Quessenberry started 44 games in his career at UCLA and was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection at center in 2016. At 6’ 4”, 310 pounds and being athletic, he should be able to move to guard when needed. He should be a very good fit for the Chargers zone blocking scheme.

Round 6 - Dylan Cantrell, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech

The selection of Cantrell in the 6th round just adds more depth to the already impressive group of wide receivers on the Chargers roster. Cantrell is a wide receiver with tight end size, coming in at 6”3”, 223 pounds. Cantrell had an outstanding day at his pro day workout in Lubbock, Texas. He ran a 4.47 forty and had a vertical leap of 41”, very good numbers for a receiver his size.

Cantrell had a productive career at Texas Tech, catching 158 passes for 1,873 yards and 18 touchdowns. In a game against Arizona State last September, Cantrell caught two touchdown passes and scored the game winning touchdown on a three-yard touchdown run. He looks like he an effective red-zone receiver that could be a tough match-up for smaller defensive backs.

Round 7 - Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

The Chargers got another steal in the 7th round with the selection of Jackson. Jackson was rated a third-round pick by Ourlads Scouting Services. Jackson had a very good NFL combine workout, with a 4.52 forty and a 38.5” vertical and good times in the other various drills. Jackson is not a big back, weighing in at 193 pounds. But he was very durable in college.

At Northwestern University, Jackson rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in the Big Ten Conference. Jackson ended up his Big Ten career as the #3 all-time rushing leader in Big Ten football history behind Ron Dayne of Wisconsin and Archie Griffin of Ohio State. Jackson’s total yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving combined) of 6,298 yards is 2nd all-time in the Big Ten behind Dayne.

Despite his size, Jackson never missed a game in college. Running behind an average offensive line, Jackson had a Big Ten-leading 1,524 rushing yards in 2016, a whopping 1,071 came after contact, good for the fifth-highest total in FBS football. He fills a need for the Chargers. The Chargers needed a third running back on the roster behind Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Jackson is an excellent choice.


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