Trey Pipkins Jersey

With all the local college standouts hoping to get a call at this year’s NFL Draft, the first one to get picked came from the Division II USF Cougars.

Offensive tackle Trey Pipkins was the first Division II player taken this year and the first non-kicker in USF history to be selected, as the Apple Valley, Minn., native went in the third round to the Los Angeles Chargers with the 91st pick.

While that was earlier than most projections had Pipkins going, South Dakota State cornerback Jordan Brown had to wait a tad longer than he probably expected, getting the call from the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round with the 223rd pick. Andrew Van Ginkel, a defensive end who began his career at USD before transferring to Wisconsin, was taken by the Dolphins in the fifth round.

SDSU quarterback and Roosevelt grad Taryn Christion was not drafted, but signed as a free agent with the Seahawks shortly after the draft. Seattle was one of the teams that showed the most interest in Christion in the weeks leading up to the draft, and they didn’t take a quarterback with any of their 10 picks. He’ll go to Seattle looking to backup Russell Wilson and Paxton Lynch.

Pipkins was one of two players from the Dakotas taken by the Chargers, as they made North Dakota State quarterback and Missouri Valley Football Conference player of the year Easton Stick their fifth round draft choice.

While virtually everyone who follows the draft (or follows USF) expected Pipkins to be drafted, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Pipkins’ highlights on the screen on Friday during the third round.

A 6-foot-6, 309-pound three-year starter for the Cougars, Pipkins was a two-time All-NSIC selection who allowed only one sack in his final two seasons, while paving the way for two record-setting running backs in Max Mickey and then Gabe Watson.

When the commentators on the ESPN broadcast discussed the pick, famed draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., defended the Chargers’ decision to choose a Division II player in the third round by pointing out that Pipkins had dominated his level.

That’s what Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco saw, too.

“He did what he had to do at that level and he dominated at his level of Division II,” Telesco said. “He’s 6-6, 305-pounds, really, really good feet. He’s got long arms, good feet, change of direction and he’s really smart. He went to an all-star game against Division I players and really stood out there. It’s hard to find tackles that are tall, long and have really good feet, can work, are smart and have some awareness. He has a lot of traits that we can develop. It’s going to take some time, but we have a good group he’s going to learn from, too.”

Pipkins was one of only five Division II players invited to the NFL Combine, and he impressed there. But it was at the East-West Shrine Game that Pipkins apparently caught the Chargers’ eye.

While Telesco said Pipkins has some traits that suggest he could be an NFL left tackle, the premier position on the offensive line, he could also slide inside to play guard, something that appealed to Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Nasir Adderley Jersey

Nasir Adderley, a safety out of Delaware, was selected in the second round with the No. 60 overall selection. He adds a new dimension to the Chargers’ secondary and will give defensive coordinator Gus Bradley much more flexibility.

That is because Adderley can be played all over the field. At Delaware, he made starts at safety and cornerback and his length will allow him to match up against the slot receiver, move tight end or at times, even the No.1 wide receiver on the opposing offenses.

Adderley was a two-way player early in his playing career, putting up big numbers as a wide receiver. His ball skills are among his best traits, but the physicality he will bring to the safety position is what makes this such a good pick.

In addition to the first-round selection of Jerry Tillery, Telesco has put his defense in the conversation for best in the league. How are you going to attack this defense?

Derwin James, the Chargers all-world safety has to absolutely love this pick.

One issue the Chargers had this year after cutting Jahleel Addae was the fact that there wasn’t a proven commodity to put at safety next to James. Would it be Rayshawn Jenkins, Adrian Phillips or Jaylen Watkins?

Though Adderley is also unproven at the professional level, obviously, his potential is sky high.

Many fans likely felt there was no way that Adderley could be had with the No. 60 pick but he fell right into their laps. Though grading this pick individually makes sense, it’s made even better because of what the team did in the first round.

The Chargers defense will be as good as any in the league and with Adderley giving the team what Addae never could in Bradley’s defense, look out. Fantastic pick.

Jerry Tillery Jersey

The Chargers expect first-round pick Jerry Tillery to deliver some notable moments this season.

Not even one minute into his official tenure with the team Friday, the defensive lineman provided the first.

He also allowed everyone to exhale with a laugh, the sort of thing that can ease any formal introduction.

After graciously thanking the “Spanos family” and “Mr. Telesco,” Tillery made a reference to “Coach Swann.”

He also allowed everyone to exhale with a laugh, the sort of thing that can ease any formal introduction.

After graciously thanking the “Spanos family” and “Mr. Telesco,” Tillery made a reference to “Coach Swann.”

Toward the back of the room, head coach Anthony Lynn smiled.

“First off, I’m coach Lynn, not Lynn Swann,” Lynn said he told Tillery afterward. “You beat Lynn Swann this year.”

Then, speaking to the media, Lynn added, “I told him he’s going to have to make it up to me.”

Tillery should have plenty of chances to do just that, the Chargers projecting their latest top pick to be an immediate contributor along the defensive front.

A starter for most of his four seasons at Notre Dame, Tillery did beat Swann in 2018 when the Fighting Irish topped USC 24-17 at the Coliseum in November. Swann is the Trojans’ athletic director.

Tillery sacked USC’s JT Daniels that night, one of a team-leading eight Tillery had last season as Notre Dame rode its defense to an undefeated regular season and a spot in college football’s playoffs.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said Tillery’s size — 6-foot-7, 295 pounds — combined with his athletic ability made him the obvious choice when it came time to pick 28th Thursday.

Lynn said Tillery is a candidate to play three downs, and both inside and outside, although the Chargers are interested in him primarily as a tackle. He also figures to be used on special teams.

What the Chargers really would like from Tillery is an inside pass rush that could tighten the pocket and provide support for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edges.

“For a man his size and his capabilities, he has a lot of versatility,” Lynn said. “We just love his upside. He had some games this year where he was pretty much unblockable.”

Tillery, 22, enrolled early at Notre Dame after a stellar high school career in Louisiana. He graduated last May with a degree in economics.

He called playing in the NFL “the opportunity of a lifetime” and for the Chargers his “dream job.”

Tillery said he has spoken to Lynn about his potential role in 2019 and promised, “It’s going to be good.”

When a reporter noted that Tillery’s versatility is a strength, he deadpanned, “I would agree with you.” Asked about playing in Southern California as opposed to a colder climate, Tillery answered, “I’m in favor of it.”

This is a well-rounded, well-educated draft pick, the Chargers adding personality to a locker room that Telesco and Lynn both have credited for featuring great chemistry.

One of Tillery’s teammates at Notre Dame was defensive lineman Isaac Rochell, who is entering his third season with the Chargers. Rochell said he has no doubt that Tillery will fit in.