The San Diego Chargers as a franchise have had their fair share of late-round or undrafted homegrown success stories. Players like Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates are two examples of ultra-productive players plucked from the realm of those that weren’t even selected during the yearly draft festivities. This initial class under the new regime of head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco is shaping up to be one of the team’s most successful in quite some time.
It’s easy to point to the top three selections in D.J. Fluker, Manti Te’o, and Keenan Allen as instant impact guys, but the depth of this class goes far beyond the first three rounds.
If not for an injury, many (myself included) believe that cornerback Steve Williams, a fifth rounder out of California, would have made an early impression. Unfortunately that was derailed by a torn ACL, but he could easily develop into a very solid nickel guy next season. Right after him pass rusher Tourek Williams was taken in the sixth round and has progressed quite well in his rookie season. He’s been forced into playing time due to injuries at the outside linebacker position and has 10 combined tackles thus far with a sack and a forced fumble to his name.
But the list doesn’t end with the drafted players. No, the Bolts have seen some positive signs from backup nose tackle Kwame Geathers and Jahleel Addae at safety. Geathers’ playing time has been sparse, but he has the potential to be a real lane clogger in the run game. As for Addae, he has continued to find himself on the field more and more while producing 31 tackles with a sack and two pass deflections.
That along with the group of drafted guys would seem like a good enough haul for just one rookie class, but another youngster is poised to get in on the act now. With cornerback Johnny Patrick being placed on injured reserve (IR) the team will now turn to undrafted rookie Marcus Cromartie to take his place. The name sounds familiar for good reason after the Bolts’ affiliation with Antonio Cromartie once upon a time, but Marcus is of no relation to the former San Diego headache. He will have a chance to join the ranks of the undrafted gems from this season in the final two games and make an impact heading into next season to help the team make key offseason decisions on personnel.
Obviously the NFL Draft is where everyone’s focus instantly goes when it comes to rookies, but productive players can rise from anywhere. This draft class from San Diego is proving that already, and that will lay the foundation for a solid personnel group going into the future.