Chargers address defensive line, secondary needs in early rounds of NFL Draft


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The Los Angeles Chargers improved from 9-7 in 2017 to a 12-4 mark last season. They advanced to the playoffs, winning a wild card game before losing in the divisional round. Proficient on both sides of the ball, the Chargers ranked 7th in scoring at 26.8 points per game and 8th in fewest points allowed, at 20.6 per game.

Round 1 (28th) Jerry Tillery (DT) Notre Dame

An offensive lineman in high school, Tillery was moved to defense and started three games as a freshman. As a sophomore, he made 37 tackles, including three for loss of yardage. In 2017, Tillery improved significantly, recording 56 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He was AP second-team All-American as a senior after registering 30 tackles, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks.

The glaring need for depth of the defensive line position was addressed with this selection. Tillery is athletic, has good size, length and should be a formidable pass rusher on the inside. The only concern is a shoulder injury Tillery sustained last season the needed surgery. Once healthy, Tillery should pay immediate dividends.

Round 2 (60th) Nasir Adderley (CB) Delaware

Adderley had 51 tackles and a team-high eight passes knocked down as a freshman. He was third-team All-CAA in 2016 recording 49 tackles and two interceptions. Adderley improved his play as a junior, registering 78 tackles with a team-best five interceptions. Last season, Adderley was second-team AP All-American as breaking up seven passes and 87 tackles.

The signing of Adderley, adding to second-year man Derwin James, has improved the Chargers’ secondary to one of the better in the AFC. Adderley has a nose for the football and is a playmaker, which is much needed after the Chargers recorded only 13 interceptions last season.

Round 3 (91st) Trey Pipkins (OT) Sioux Falls

After a reserve as a freshman, Pipkins was second-team all-conference as a sophomore. He dominated in 12 starts in 2017, allowing just a single sack and was second-team All-NSIC. Pipkins voted third best lineman in Division II as a senior and was AP All-American.
The Chargers like Pipkins size at 6’ 6” and 310 pounds and with needs along the offensive front, fits the bill. Likely not a part of the rotation this season, Pipkins will need some time to fine tune his game for playing time down the road.
Round 4 (130th) Drue Tranquill (ILB) Notre Dame
Tranquill made 33 tackles with an interception as a freshman, but tore his left ACL. He played three games the following season but tore his right ACL in a post-game celebration. During his junior season, Tranquill made 85 tackles including 10.5 for loss. The prior season, Tranquill made 79 tackles, with one interception and two tackles for loss of yardage.
With nice size and athleticism at 6’ 2” and 235 pounds, Tranquill is a good cover man who has good speed. It’s not likely he will see significant playing time at linebacker this season, but should be a valuable member of the special teams.
Round 5 (166th) Easton Stick (QB) North Dakota State
Stick played in 11 games a freshman, completing 61.2 percent of his 147 passes with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Playing in 14 games the following season, Stick threw for 2331 yards and 19 touchdowns. Improving significantly in 2017, he completed 62 percent of his 264 passes for nearly 2500 yards and 28 touchdowns. Performing consistently, Stick completed 62 percent for over 2750 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior.
Stick was the replacement at North Dakota State after Carson Wentz held the reigns. He did a great job as the Bisons won two titles with him as a starter. Stick has decent size and 4.6 speed in the 40 yard dash. He should fight for a back up spot behind Philip Rivers.
Round 6 (200th) Emeke Egbule (DE) Houston
Egbule was a special teams member in 14 games as a freshman, making 11 tackles. The following season, Egbule recorded 22 tackles before taking over fulltime at defensive end in 2017. He improved his production to 62 tackles and two sacks that season and as a senior, made 69 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.
Rather small for a defensive end by NFL standards at 6' 2" and 245 pounds, Egbule is more suited to be a pass-rushing outside linebacker. As a late round pick, Egbule likely will start on speical teams and could see time as a situational pass rusher or back up.

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