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Bolts Will Take Best Available With 25th Pick

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Keenan Allen, a third-round pick by the San Diego Chargers, went on to have an outstanding rookie season in 2013. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Keenan Allen, a third-round pick by the San Diego Chargers, went on to have an outstanding rookie season in 2013. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Needs and rankings. Two synonymous terms when it comes to the NFL draft, right?

Maybe for mock draft gurus, but not for San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco. 

“We don’t rank the needs, one, two, three. I think if you do that, you start losing focus and may miss somebody,” the second-year GM said.  “I’ve used the example before, last year at this time, if we were ranking our needs heavily, a receiver wouldn’t have been real high. I felt really great about the receiving corps last year. For us, Keenan was too good to pass up and lo and behold, our two starters get hurt. …There’s a lot of areas we’d like to still add to. Even if we signed a guy in free agency, it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t draft a player in that position."

Heck, even D.J. Fluker was a surprise last season with the 11th pick. If you were a betting man, a right tackle would not have been on the short list of possible prospects the Chargers were interested in, at least with their first pick. Throw in trading up for Manti Te’o in the second round and that’s about as surprising a draft as you can get. 

But hey, it worked because the Chargers went after the best available players. 

This year, with the 25th selection in the first round, don’t expect the Chargers to do anything but the same. There are too many variables that will undoubtedly happen in the 24 picks before the Chargers’ selection, assuming they don’t move up or down (more on that later). It would behoove them not to stretch on anyone but a playmaker at 25. Take a chance, a risk, or reach in the later rounds, if necessary. Not in the first. That’s when you get a top shot at a myriad of playmakers at multiple positions, regardless of need. 

As many as five cornerbacks (what many consider the Chargers biggest “need”--including yours truly) could go in the first round, and of those five (Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller, Bradley Roby and Jason Verrett -- in whichever order), the Chargers will likely have a chance at one of them (probably Verrett). But, if it’s not a player they are totally sold on, they have options. A pass rusher, nose tackle, or wide receiver are other positions of “need.” However, those needs aren’t ranked in any order, so expect the best player available to be taken. 

Even trading down, which the Chargers are prepared to do, would be smart if they don’t feel the best available player on their board is worth the 25th pick. 

“Every time you go into a draft you’re always ready to go up or down, and a lot of times you don’t actually make that hard decision until you get closer,” Telesco said. “But I can’t think of a time that we’ve ever gone in and said we’re not moving. Except when we took Andrew Luck in Indy, I guess. But I can’t remember ever saying we’re not moving from this spot and we knew that beforehand. You have to be flexible, you really do.”  

Moving out of the first round isn’t a bad idea. The Cleveland Browns, for example, have the fourth and 26th picks in the first round and need of a quarterback. If the Browns don’t take a QB with the fourth pick, other teams will definitely be interested in trading for the Chargers’ 25th pick.

Either way, San Diego has options. 

Just don’t expect Telesco to fill a position of “need” for the sake of doing so.