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Bolts boss Telesco will try to match his 1st draft

May 6, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tom Telesco set the bar high during his first draft as general manager of the San Diego Chargers.

He took right tackle D.J. Fluker in the first round, traded up in the second round to take linebacker Manti Te’o, and then landed a gem in the third round with wide receiver Keenan Allen, who had a brilliant rookie season.

Now Telesco has to try to do it again, starting with the 25th pick overall Thursday night.

“Every year. It doesn’t matter what you do the year before. Every year you’ve got to hit on as many guys as you can,” Telesco said.

The Chargers’ roster is better than what Telesco inherited in January 2013. But playing in the same division as Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Telesco and the Chargers know they have to get better — and they’re more than just one player away.

After missing the playoffs the three seasons before Telesco and coach Mike McCoy arrived, the Chargers slid into the postseason thanks to a strong December run and collapses by Miami and Baltimore.

That means the Chargers will pick No. 25, where perhaps they’ll take Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III or Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller. Or maybe a wide receiver.

“You have to be flexible. You can’t zero in on one guy or one position,” Telesco said.

Here are five things to watch for when Telesco uses the Chargers’ seven picks:

NO NEED TO RANK NEED: Telesco said the Chargers don’t rank their needs.

“If you do that, you start losing focus and may miss somebody,” he said. “Last year at this time if you were ranking our needs heavily, receiver wouldn’t have been real high. Of the whole team I felt really great about the receiving corps last year. For us, Keenan was too good to pass and then, lo and behold, our two starters get hurt.”

Danario Alexander tore up his right knee in training camp and Malcom Floyd suffered a season-ending neck injury in the second game. Although Allen didn’t play in the season opener, he was a starter by the third game and went on to catch 71 passes for a team-leading 1,046 yards and eight TDs, tied for the team high.

“We don’t rank them that hard,” Telesco said. “There are a lot of areas we’d like to still add to. Even if we signed a guy in free agency doesn’t mean we wouldn’t draft a player in that position.”

ROSTER MUSINGS: Telesco said a year ago it would take more than one offseason to reshape the roster. He prefers to build through the draft rather than take gambles through free agency.

“I think we’re better now than we were last year,” Telesco said. “Certainly we’re not one player away, either. We have a lot of areas to still add. We don’t go into a draft saying, ‘We’re happy at this position.’ It doesn’t work like that. It’s too hard to draft that way.”

The Chargers largely took care of their own during free agency, re-signing inside linebacker Donald Butler, offensive linemen Rich Ohrnberger and Chad Rinehart, cornerback Richard Marshall and wideout Seyi Ajirotutu. Free agent additions include cornerback Brandon Ghee, running back Donald Brown and backup quarterback Kellen Clemens.

WIDEOUTS: Despite perceived needs at cornerback and nose tackle, fans shouldn’t be surprised if Telesco takes a wide receiver in the first round. Floyd is undecided about his future after suffering that neck injury. “We have a great quarterback (Philip Rivers), so the more guys we can give him that can score touchdowns is something we’re going to look at.”

TE’O REDDUX: Te’o was one of 30 players the Chargers brought in for visits before last year’s draft.

Te’o, of course, had a poor showing in Notre Dame’s BCS championship game loss to Alabama, followed by the revelation he’d gotten fooled by a hoax involving a fake girlfriend.

Telesco said the Chargers did “probably a lot of work that you usually wouldn’t do” on Te’o. “I don’t know if it was more, but we got into some areas we normally wouldn’t get into with some other players.”

MOCK, IF YOU WISH: Telesco said he pays attention to a few mock drafts.

“Some of these guys, this is all they do and they talk to a lot of people,” he said. “I think a couple of guys really work at it really well. They watch tape and give opinions. This is all an opinion-based business. As we get closer to the end I will look at them to try and see where people think people are going. If I talk to other people in the league no one is going to be honest with you, so I’ll always look at it.”


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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