San Diego Chargers Stadium Vote Likely To Impact Draft Strategy

Ryan Phillips
Apr 25, 2016, 8:30 PM EDT

The San Diego Chargers had their big “give us a stadium” shindig this weekend and made it clear they would prefer to stay in “America’s Finest City.” For that to happen, the Bolts will need the citizens of San Diego to approve the new facility on the ballot in November. That impending vote could have a huge impact on who the Chargers select during the 2016 NFL Draft this week.

San Diego currently holds the third overall pick in this year’s draft. With the Rams and Eagles both expected to snag quarterbacks with the first two picks, that would leave the board wide open for San Diego. With guys like Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner on the board, you would think general manager Tom Telesco would have an agonizing decision ahead of him. That won’t be the case if the franchise is concerned about November’s vote going well.

Normally a team in San Diego’s position could have the luxury of simply taking the best player available, or listening to a ton of trade offers that are sure to come its way. But the Chargers will almost certainly want to at least be in playoff contention when the vote happens in order to rally support for their cause. If the Bolts are fully rebuilding and have lost a majority of their the nine games they will have played when people head to the polls on November 8, a $350 million donation to the team could be a much harder sell.

If the team wants to improve immediately, that likely takes Ole Miss tackle Tunsil out of consideration, since they owe a significant amount of money to both King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale at that position. It also likely rules out UCLA’s Jack, since the Chargers don’t have a dire need at linebacker. That leaves Florida State’s Ramsey, Ohio State’s Bosa and Oregon’s Buckner.

San Diego got rid of wildly popular Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle this offseason leaving an enormous gap in its secondary. Ramsey is clearly one of the best players in the draft and should be able to jump in and immediately make an impact at safety or corner, or some combination of the two. Meanwhile. Bucker seems like a huge boom-or-bust guy who could wind up being a superstar, and the team has a need along the defensive line. Bosa appears to be one of the most solid but unspectacular guys in the draft, a high floor, low ceiling kind of player who could help out early.

While all three guys could make an impact in 2016, what the Chargers would get in Ramsey they won’t be able to find later in the draft. They could definitely find defensive line help as soon as the second (No. 35) or third round (No. 66).

Telesco and company have a lot to think about over the next few days, but if they truly believe they can compete now, then Ramsey is the best pick for the franchise. If they are selecting a player to help them sell their stadium plan, he would be the guy who could help the team win immediately.

If there is any chance the stadium won’t be a consideration inside that draft room, then Tunsil would warrant consideration. He’s the kind of prospect a team could plug-in at left tackle and not worry about for the next decade. I have to believe owner Dean Spanos understands the optics associated with selling his plan though, he wants to have a winner on the field when pitching a new stadium. With that in mind, I’d be shocked if Ramsey wasn’t the pick.