Much like earlier with Head Coach Mike McCoy, over a thousand questions were submitted for General Manager Tom Telesco this week. A popular figure at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday, Telesco took time to answer a number of fan questions.
Quite frankly, your first draft was a home run. Do you feel pressure for this next draft to live up to last years? – Richie Drummand
Telesco: Each year is about trying to get better than the previous year. We had nine wins last year with a lot of young players playing, so that’s a good thing. I’m certainly not one into grading the drafts, but we had nine wins with a young crew. We have a process for the draft that we use, so we’ll stick with that process and hopefully it pays dividends.
Telesco: Our approach has always been to build through the draft, but we will supplement it through free agency. I think you saw that last year. We signed five or six free agents to add to our team. Every year is different though. Whether it will be the same level of activity this year, I’m not really sure. But it is certainly a part of the process.
I’m hoping you could give a rundown of what our salary cap situation looks like.– Anthony Helf
Telesco: We don’t have a lot of space this year. Our first priority right now is to get some of our own players resigned. Current Chargers whose contracts are expiring is our first priority. So we’ll see where we are after that. Every year free agency is different. Every year is unique. We’re trying to find players whose ability can help us win and their market value lines up with our cap situation. Sometimes those both line up. Sometimes they don’t. But our first priority right now is to try and resign some of our own players.
Do you feel that the team exceeded your expectations last year? What will you remember about the team?– Chris Sosa
Telesco: It was a rewarding experience. We took some lumps at the beginning of the year and were playing .500 football for a while. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump, but it was great to see a group of players buy in to Mike McCoy’s message and tune out the noise of everyone saying we couldn’t do this or couldn’t do that. Guys just focused on what we could do and guys went on a run at the end of the year and it was encouraging to see and rewarding and built a great base for next year to work on.
During this year's draft, is the front office looking to draft based on need or will it be more of a "best-player-available" type draft? – Chris Silva
Telesco: In the best of both worlds, you have players up on the board that are from positions you want to add to and they are the highest guys on your board. But I have to tell you, every round is unique and different. It really is. And for us, there is no one set philosophy that it is always best player or always need. We try to marry them up the best we can and see where it goes. Last year receiver wasn’t a huge need for us but we felt
Tom, you did an amazing job transforming this team in to what it is today. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan, and sincerely enjoy the opportunity to ask you a question. What do you believe is this team’s biggest area of concern? - David Droegemeier
Telesco: This is a fast league. We want to make sure we keep pace with those teams, so one thing we are looking for on both sides of the ball and on special teams is our team speed. That is one thing we are looking at because as the game changes, that is one thing we want to keep up with.
You said you wanted to get faster on the team. How do you get more speed? – Sarah Guisse
Telesco: It’s pretty simple. For every position we want to get players who are quick, athletic and can run. At corner, receiver and linebacker those are easy ones to see. You can tell when guys play at a different speed. But even for the defensive line and running back, you look for quick-twitch athletes. That’s part of the process and some of the traits you are looking for at every position. When you do that, gradually, your entire team gets a little bit faster and faster over time.
Telesco: Honestly, with both of those guys, they are both still just rehabbing. As soon as healthy, we'll see how it goes. They are still in the rest and rehab period.
I have been impressed by the decisions you have made. I trust in the plan that you have put in place. Building through the draft is definitely key in building a championship team. Is the character of a football player and the willingness to learn most important or is it there skill set and physical abilities? How extensive is the research done to find out the true resume of a potential player? – Eliseo Mederes
Telesco: It really is very extensive. Our scouts do this year round and this is all they do. The investment we make in these players is very important. You only get seven draft picks, plus there is a monetary value assigned, so it is a big investment we put in these players. We try to get as much research and background down on these players as we can, and the football ability is very important. But then the person is important too for how they fit in to our makeup. It is a 13 month process because the scouts in April are focusing on this current year’s draft but the next one as well to get a head start.
When looking at a prospect's tape in the NFL Draft, what are you looking for that you may not find in other prospects? To clarify: If two players at the same position look good on tape, what would separate one from the other? – Jackson Bittick
Telesco: It varies by position obviously depending on what we’re looking at. I don’t think anything that we look for with the Chargers is much different from other places. One thing that we do look for is someone who is passionate about the game. A lot of times we can see that on the field. Their love for it and how they play and the effort they put into it.
Yes, Mr. Telesco isn't it true that GMs and staffs around the league place too much emphasis on the combine? It seems to me that all the video you guys have on these players in every single game should be a better indicator of the ability and potential of the players. Thanks. – Jeff Simpson
Telesco: That’s a great point! The Combine is covered so much these days by the media that I think outside the building and other buildings the extra importance is placed on it. And it is important how the guys compete here, but in the end the overriding factor is how do they play in the fall? How do they play when they put the helmet and pads on? What have they done for their whole career? This is just a small piece of the puzzle. It’s important obviously, but it’s just one piece.