SAN DIEGO -- While San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco doesn’t like the fact that his team went 4-12 last season -- which means they have the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft -- he wants to maximize the value and take advantage of the opportunity.
However, Telesco also wants to avoid the huge bust potential selecting early in the draft.
And that means coming away with an impact player at No. 3 that can serve as a game changer on either side of the ball for the Chargers.
“You’re usually picking at No. 3 for a reason,” Telesco said. “You’ve got some weak areas of your football team. So it could be a player at any position to come and help us. Certainly durability would be a part of that. It’s all part of the equation.”
In the last five drafts, teams picking at No. 3 have had more misses than hits searching for players who have not only made an impact, but have also shown an ability to remain on the field.
Last year, edge rusher Dante Fowler did not play a single down for the Jacksonville Jaguars after being selected No. 3 overall in the 2015 draft. Fowler suffered an ACL knee injury that required surgery during offseason work last May and missed the entire regular season.
The year before that, the Jaguars selected quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3 in the 2014 draft, and he has developed into one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Miami Dolphins selected defensive end Dion Jordan at No. 3 in the 2013 draft, and he has never played to his potential. In three seasons with the Dolphins, Jordan has just three sacks in 26 games played. Jordan was suspended for the entire 2015 season for once again violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson was taken No. 3 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 draft. Richardson never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season and is now looking to join his fourth team.
The Buffalo Bills got a good player in defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Although he has had some issues off of the field, Dareus earned a Pro Bowl invitation in 2013 and 2014 and has missed only two games in five seasons.
But players such as Fowler, Jordan and Richardson point to the enormous risk involved with selecting at the top of the draft, providing reasons why teams do as much homework as possible on intangibles and character issues to lessen the risk in drafting a player that does not work out.
It’s also one of the reasons the Chargers are listening to offers for the No. 3 selection, potentially trading back for extra picks in a draft with a deep pool of talent at defensive end and defensive tackle, areas of needs for San Diego.
Along with the No. 3 pick, the Chargers select early in all seven rounds of the draft, increasing the possibility of securing a handful of impact players in April.
The Chargers have eight draft picks overall and four picks through No. 102.
“We’ll see,” Telesco said. “Whether we sit and pick at all of those picks or move back -- I don’t see any scenario where we’re moving up in the first round -- it’s good.
“You go through hell during last season to earn that No. 3 pick in the draft. Once you’re here, it’s nice to have not only the third pick, but a top five pick in the second round. And that’s a great pick, whether we’re making that pick, or somebody’s coming up to get it. So it’s a good spot to be in, whether we’re picking there or moving back.
“Or we could move up. If there’s a guy there that kind of falls through [to the second round] that we have as a first-round player and is still sitting there, we could move up. So it gives us some flexibility to get things done.”