Each Chargers pick analyzed: Attention goes to defense

--- NFLDraftScout.com ---

It's to be determined if defense wins the Los Angeles Chargers a championship. But it clearly won the first two days of the team's NFL Draft with the Chargers leaning heavily in that direction with their picks.

Derwin James, the hard-hitting free safety from Florida State, came in the first round at No. 17 overall. Then a cascade of defenders followed as the Chargers went about addressing an area which was already a team strength.

Uchenna Nwosu, an exciting linebacker from USC, became a Bolt in the second round. Beefy North Carolina State defensive tackle Justin Jones and active West Virginia linebacker Kyzir White were next on the Chargers' wish-list.

Not until UCLA center Scott Quessenberry come off the board at No. 155 in the fifth round did the Bolts reach for an offensive player.

James was the premier pick and the smiles from the Chargers brass revealed just that after the pick. His athleticism is off the charts and his versatility is such he can play in the box or match up in coverage against a tight end. It's clear defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will enjoy engaging James in different parts of the Chargers' defense.

"Whatever you need me to do, I feel like I have experience doing it at a high level," James said. "And I can bring that Alpha Dog mentality to the locker room."

Head coach Anthony Lynn is eager to see James all over the field, and all over in different spots for the Chargers.

"It's a good fit for our defense," Lynn said. "This guy, he has the skill set where he can do multiple things. There's a lot of versatility.

"We can use him as a linebacker. We can use him as a strong safety, a free safety. We can rush him off the edge."

Nwosu is part project and part production. He didn't start playing football until high school and seems to be growing with each season. He wreaked havoc in the Pac-12 for the Trojans and the Chargers are expecting him to do the same against the other three teams in the AFC West.

Nwosu became the first Los Angeles Chargers hometown pick as he went to Narbonne High in nearby Harbor City.

"It was pretty cool to call him and say, 'You're staying home,"' Bolts general manager Tom Telesco said.

But the Chargers weren't looking for a cute story. They saw a disruptive force that was a monster in his senior season when collecting 9.5 sacks and swatting away 13 passes.

He said his final season at USC was about, "being able to show everything I can do from rushing to covering, to dropping ... doing everything."

Jones can help fill a void along the interior line. Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget are under review after the Chargers continued to have challenges stopping the run last year. The Chargers were eager to get more stout up front and Jones might be able to deliver some girth and grit.

Grin and bear it was what offensive players with hopes of being drafted by the Chargers had to do. It was a defensive draft from the get-go as the Chargers' fight from Los Angeles figures to offer more punch in Year Two.


A closer look at the Chargers' picks:

Round 1/17 -- Derwin James, FS, 6-2, 215, Florida State

With the attention on quarterbacks, tackles and a certain running back, one of the draft's top defense players landed in the Chargers lap. He's played at a high level with the Seminoles and it's his versatility on defense that sets him apart from others. He had 84 tackles and two picks last year on his way to second-team All-America honors.

Round 2/48 -- Uchenna Nwosu, OLB 6-3, 251, Southern Cal

Exploded onto the scene with a dynamite senior season in which he had 75 tackles, 11.5 for losses and 9.5 sacks. Introduced to football in his sophomore year in high school, the thinking is Nwosu's ceiling is a high one.

Round 3/84 -- Justin Jones, DT, 6-2, 309, North Carolina State

Jones fills a need as the interior of the Chargers' defensive line needs some work. With Brandon Mebane entering the twilight of his career and Corey Liuget coming off a so-so year -- and he's suspended the first four games of this year -- Jones could see significant snaps early.

Round 4/119 -- Kyzir White, LB, 6-2, 218, West Virginia

White could contribute on passing downs as he's more of a coverage linebacker than run-stuffer. He was second team All-Big 12 last year with 94 tackles, 7.5 were for losses -- and three picks. Figures to fight for playing time with the second team.

Round 5/155 -- Scott Quessenberry, 6-4, 310, C, UCLA

Quessenberry grew up in North San Diego County so he's no stranger to the Chargers, his favorite team. He started all 13 games last year for the Bruins, where he was praised for his mental skills as well. A bit of a head-scratcher with the Bolts depth along the interior offensive line.

Round 6/191 -- Dylan Cantrell, 6-3, 226, WR, Texas Tech

With the Chargers moving on from Antonio Gates, Cantrell can give Philip Rivers something tempting to aim for in the red zone. He's got good size for 50/50 balls.

Round 7/251 -- Justin Jackson, 6-0, 199, RB, Northwestern

A second-team All-Big Ten selection after he became the ninth player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He's a slippery back relying on his moves rather than brute strength. But he is durable and isn't afraid to run with physicality. His three-touchdown, 224-yard showing in the Pinstripe Bowl against Pitt opened some eyes.


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