NFL Combine Provides New Targets for San Diego Chargers in 2014 NFL Draft

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San Diego Chargers: NFL Combine Provides New Targets for 2014 NFL Draft

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Brad Barr - USA Today Sports

Entering the offseason, the San Diego Chargers hope to improve from a playoff team into a Super Bowl contender. The Chargers made a surprising run to the divisional playoff round in 2013, led by a resurgent season from quarterback Philip Rivers. Two of the things that held the Chargers back from being Super Bowl contenders were an inconsistent pass defense and a lack of a pass rush.

The pass defense ranked near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed and interceptions forced. The pass rush ranked in the bottom half of the NFL, posting just 35 sacks on the year. It is clear the Chargers have pressing needs at the cornerback and outside linebacker positions. The interior of the offensive line needs to be upgraded as well.

The NFL Combine came and went this past week, and with it, draft prospects' stocks either improved or declined. Luckily for the Chargers, this draft class is stacked, especially in the defensive back department. Provided the franchise drafts a cornerback within the first three rounds, the team will likely find a player to can start from day one.

In this list you will find players at all three positions of need for the franchise. This is one of the more stacked draft classes in recent memory, and the Chargers should not find a problem in upgrading their secondary, front seven or offensive line in the 2014 NFL Draft. In this slideshow, you'll also find a dynamic wide receiver who will make waves if lined up opposite of the Chargers' Keenan Allen.

Here are five targets the Chargers should take a look at for the 2014 NFL Draft.

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5. CB Jason Verrett, TCU

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Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports

The Chargers should take TCU's Jason Verrett with the No. 25 overall selection. Verrett had one of the most impressive combines of any cornerback over the past week. The TCU corner placed second amongst position players in the 40-yard dash with a 4.38 time. He also placed fifth in his group in the vert jump with a 39-inch vertical.

At the very least, the Chargers are getting a top-flight nickel corner in Verrett. He is a top three cornerback in this draft.

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4. OG, Gabe Jackson Mississippi State

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Jeremy Brevard- USA Today Sports

The Chargers need a mauler at guard, and Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson fits the bill. Jackson started 52 career games in four years at MSU at left guard, never missing a game. He has excellent size at 6-foot-3 and 336-pounds. With incumbent starting left guard Chad Rinehart a free agent, the Chargers need to find a new starter through the draft. Jackson is that guy.

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3. OLB/DE Trent Murphy, Stanford

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Robert Hanshiro - USA Today Sports

Outside of cornerback, a pass rusher is the Chargers' biggest need entering the offseason. The Chargers' Corey Liuget led the team with 5.5 sacks in 2013. That is unacceptable. If the Chargers want to take the next step as a franchise, they need a premier pass rusher. Say hello to Stanford's Trent Murphy. Murphy is a hybrid OLB/DE capable of playing either position in a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense such as the Chargers' defense. At 6-foot-5, Murphy has the reach to get to quarterbacks. After all, he did lead the nation in sacks with 15 takedowns in 2013.

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2. CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

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Greg Bartram - USA Today Sports

Outside of the aforementioned Verrett and Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert, Ohio State's Bradley Roby was the most impressive cornerback at the NFL Combine. Roby showed off his world class speed and athleticism with a 4.39 40-yard dash. He can play in zone or man coverage teams, and he possesses ideal size for a corner at 5-foot-11 and 194-pounds.

If the Chargers nab Roby in the draft, he will start in his rookie season.

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1. WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson

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Joshua S. Kelly - USA Today Sports

Clemson's Martavis Bryant is a wild card pick. Bryant had an impressive showing at the NFL Combine, running a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, which was the fifth-best mark at his position. At 6-foot-4 and 211-pounds, Bryant has the size to be a game-breaker at wide receiver. Although the Chargers have Keenan Allen and hopefully the returning Malcom Floyd as the starting receivers, Bryant has the chance to work his way into the Chargers' starting lineup with his speed and size. He is a huge red zone target, catching seven touchdown passes on his 42 receptions.

Best of all? He's projected to be a middle-round draft pick.


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