Takeaways from Chargers GM Tom Telesco’s pre-draft press conference

Chargers GM Tom Telesco preparing for his 11th draft with the organization.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Chargers general manager Tom Telesco held his pre-draft press conference on Monday morning. Several topics were discussed, from quarterback Justin Herbert’s possible contract extension to needing a punt/kickoff returner.

Telesco is preparing for his 11th draft as the general manager of the Chargers. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from his press conference:

  • First-rounders and depth of the draft

Every general manager and scout has a projection of how many players have a true first-round grade. That number varies from team to team.

“Our first-round numbers are kind of where they usually are,” Telesco said. 

The Chargers general manager didn’t want to get into numbers or specifics.

The view of the depth at the different positions is also interesting to know, so here is what Telesco said:

“The depth of the draft is hard to tell,” Telesco said. “Each position is a little bit different. The only one that really kind of stands out – just because, in previous years, we’ve seen less and less college tight ends coming into the NFL – for whatever reason, this year, there’s a whole bunch of really true tight ends that are coming into the league.”

Tight end is an interesting position to watch for regarding the Chargers. They need a game-changing tight end regardless of their current depth on the roster. A franchise quarterback like Justin Herbert could use a franchise tight end.

As Telesco pointed out the depth at tight end is deep, so they could select a good one in the first two rounds. 

  • Justin Herbert’s contract extension

Telesco said he had “no update” on the potential contract extension for their franchise quarterback. He also said they will decide next week if Herbert and linebacker Kenneth Murray will get the fifth-year option.

It isn’t about if Herbert gets his extension but about when and for how much. 

  • Running back Austin Ekeler’s status

Ekeler asked for permission to seek a trade at the beginning of free agency about a month and some change ago. He is still a Charger, and the trade hasn’t come to fruition. Telesco said he had no updates on Ekeler, so he is a Charger for now.

  • Jalen Guyton coming back

Last week, the Chargers re-signed receiver Jalen Guyton, who has been a deep threat for them since his arrival. He tore his ACL early in the season in 2022, so he is still rehabbing.

“When the season ended last year, we were hoping to bring him back, so nothing changed there,” Telesco said.

Telesco said Guyton wouldn’t be ready to go until they get closer to training camp. It will be interesting to see if his coming back changes their approach to drafting a receiver.

  • JC Jackson recovery

Jackson got hurt against the Seattle Seahawks last season, and there were questions about whether he could return. During the offseason, Jackson has been uploading videos and pictures of his recovery, which is encouraging.

“He looks great for where he is right now,” Telesco said. “He still has some ways to go, but I saw him running in the weight room the other day on the treadmill. He looked really good. Hopefully, that keeps progressing the same way.”

Jackson was a big free agent get for the Chargers last season but struggled to stay on the field and to produce when playing. Could he be back by training camp?

“That’s the hope, yeah,” Telesco said. “We’re still, what, three months from there? But yeah, that’s the hope. I’m optimistic on that.”

  • Punt and kick returner

The Chargers lost DeAndre Carter to the Raiders during free agency. Carter was a solid returner for the team and even had to help at receiver.

“We will probably have to look in a couple of different areas and have some people come in and compete for that job,” Telesco said.

The team could look at some names left in free agency or draft a returner in the later rounds. Telesco was asked whether they look for returners with more college experience. 

“It’s going to be a projection a little bit because if you just go based on who did a lot of punts and kicks together, your pool is going to be pretty small,” Telesco said. “So, I think that you do have to project out a little bit.”

  • Telesco uses mock drafts

Tis’ the mock draft season. It is coming to an end until it starts for the 2024 season, but Telesco said on Monday that he uses mock draft simulators.

“These mock draft simulators online have been great,” Telesco said. “I’ve probably gone through it 25 or 30 times, just going through different scenarios to see if something could pop up that we’re not prepared for.”

He didn’t really say which one he used.

“I’ve used a couple of different ones,” Telesco explained. “What I like is they’re quick. You can kind of scroll through fast. You can kind of change different settings. It’s all mental exercises. Obviously, you’re making decisions with a clock over your head. You really can’t wait until you’re on the clock and then start talking to people and decide what you want to do. You kind of have a plan laid out of what could happen and kind of take it from there.”

He wants to be prepared and ready for anything come Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.