- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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Yes, serving as San Diego Chargers general manager for the NFL Nation mock draft, I would have liked to trade out of the No. 25 overall selection and get more picks, particularly with so many needs to fill.
But with Cleveland already taking a quarterback in Johnny Manziel at No. 4, no suitable offers were made by QB-needy teams looking to move back up into the end of the first round for San Diego’s first-round pick.
So the Chargers stood pat, played it safe and selected Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III.
The Chargers gave up 4.59 rushing yards per carry, No. 27 in the NFL, last season. Nix fills an obvious need up front, reuniting with former Fighting Irish teammate Manti Te'o. His presence in the middle should help keep Te’o and fellow inside linebacker Donald Butler clean.
Auburn edge rusher Dee Ford and UCLA interior offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo were also considerations.
Yes, cornerbacks like Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby were still on the board. But the Seattle Seahawks have proven you can get productive corners later in the draft if you select talented players that fit your scheme. Starting corners Richard Sherman (fifth round, 2011) and Byron Maxwell (sixth round, 2011), along with nickel corner Jeremy Lane (sixth round, 2012) were all late-round selections.
Through shrewd talent evaluation and good coaching, the Seahawks developed one of the best defensive backfields in the league.
For those thinking Nix won’t play enough to warrant a first-round selection, the person he would replace, Cam Thomas played 453 snaps in 2013, or 47 percent of San Diego’s defensive snaps. So the Notre Dame product will play enough to make an impact.
Look, in the trenches and at quarterback is where games are won in the NFL. And 6-foot, 200-pound corners and receivers are easier to find later in the draft because there are just more players with those measurables and athletic ability.
However, 6-3, 300-pound players with good movement skills are not as plentiful. That’s why teams push defensive linemen who can play up the draft board. It’s not a given Nix would be available at No. 57 when the Chargers select in the second round.
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