It’s not often that an NFL team makes a pick in the 6th round of the Draft and an entire fan base lights up with excitement.
But that is exactly what happened on Saturday in San Diego. The Chargers, desperate to find a way to run the ball more efficiently, used the 198th overall pick on Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt. This is a very good idea for a number of reasons.
One is the Bolts needed a true blocking fullback. David Johnson, a converted tight end, tried to fill the role the last two years but his skill set just didn’t translate to the position. Another is Watt already has the trust of Melvin Gordon, the man the Bolts took in last year’s first round as a cure to the running game.
“Melvin and I were really close,” said Watt, who was Gordon’s fullback for three years in Madison. “We came in as freshmen and I really got to know him. We were in the same meeting rooms, we’ve stayed close, and it will be a great time getting out there with him again.”
Gordon set records and was a Heisman Trophy runner-up with Watt’s help. Perhaps that’s why Melvin was actively lobbying the coaching staff to get Derek out to San Diego.
“We already know how each other thinks, we already know what each other sees, and we communicate what we see on the field to each other,” said Watt. “It’ll be great to be back with him.”
Yet another reason to like Watt is he might be the only offensive player in the NFL who’s looking forward to playing against reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. Derek is J.J.’s little brother and they’ve never played against each other in a game. When the Chargers and Texans meet in Houston in November, neither of the Watt boys will be backing down.
“It might be a stalemate. We might just knock each other out.”
The Chargers added a few more pieces on Saturday. In the 4th round they took Joshua Perry, an inside linebacker from Ohio St. He’s one of the leaders of the Buckeyes defense that won the 2014 national Title and earned the reputation of being a hard-nosed tackler, especially against the run.
In the 5th round the Bolts nabbed Jatavis Brown, the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was a linebacker at Akron but after running a 4.47 in the 40 scouts started looking at the 222-pounder as a potential safety, a position the Chargers needed to address.
San Diego had two picks in the 6th round. Before taking Watt they grabbed Drew Kaser, a punter from Texas A&M with a monster leg. He had a punt of at least 64 yards in half the Aggies’ games last year. The tough part of that pick is it means the Chargers will be releasing long-time punter Mike Scifres, who has been with the team since 2003 and performed at a Pro Bowl level.
The Chargers rounded out their 2016 class with Donavon Clark, an offensive guard from Michigan St. The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder earned praise for his toughness and intelligence, often having the change positions along the line to fill in for injuries mid-game (where have you heard that before?).
Here is the entirety of the 2016 Chargers Draft class:
Position Player College Round
DE Joey Bosa Ohio State 1
TE Hunter Henry Arkansas 2
C Max Tuerk Southern California 3
ILB Joshua Perry Ohio State 4
OLB Jatavis Brown Akron 5
P Drew Kaser Texas A&M 6
FB Derek Watt Wisconsin 6
G Donavon Clark Michigan State 7