It’s that time when grades are important and just not to graduating seniors.
The NFL Draft has come and gone and can we get a “Hallelujah!”
New York’s Radio City Music Hall was recently the center of the sports universe and did the Rockettes ever get that much hype?
Probably not. But what did was the annual disbursements of collegiate players.
The Chargers played tourists, leaving the Big Apple with six new employees and a Statue of Liberty foam crown.
OK, we’re not sure about the crown. We do know the Chargers’ brass is crowing about their picks, and what did you expect?
General manager Tom Telesco swung hard and connected last year in his maiden draft.
His top three selections morphed into starters as right tackle D.J. Fluker, linebacker Manti Te’o and wide receiver Keenan Allen all earned their varsity letters.
Would this spring’s basket be filled with as many golden eggs?
Telesco thinks so and the same goes for NFL insiders grading these sorts of things.
The Chargers received, virtually across the board, a ‘B’ for their decisions. That letter dotting your transcripts won’t get you in UC San Diego, but for a draft, that’s considered a success.
Texas Christian cornerback Jason Verrett was the team’s top pick.
He was followed by Georgia Tech linebacker Jerry Attaochu and Notre Dame guard Chris Watt.
No one knows if these guys will be stiffs.
Or someday golfing in the Marshall Faulk Celebrity Championship, which is underway at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.
All of the Chargers wanna-bes have pluses, have minuses, and anyone predicting with confidence their ability to transfer their skills to the next level is blowing smoke.
Verrett was an All Big-12 selection with a knack for denying receivers the ball. That he’s maybe 5-foot-9 when on his tippy-toes can’t be ignored.
Well, that and a growing up a Raiders fan, but first things first.
Attaochu is quick and relentless, a perfect combination for an outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. But he needs to be pointed toward the weight room; he declined to pump iron for scouts at the Combine.
Lifting heavy objects and eating spinach is required, otherwise he’ll have the Georgia peach fuzz knocked off him.
Watt is a former Te’o teammate but arrives without the sideshow, which accompanied Te’o. Watt is solid and smart, but some worry about his length and lack of a firm base to negate massive defensive tackles.
Still, the Chargers had needs entering the draft and their initial three picks addressed them.
The Chargers don’t brag about having the AFC’s worst pass defense. When sharing a division with Denver’s Peyton Manning, that’s not a good thing — hello, Verrett.
The Chargers reach quarterbacks as often the Padres score 19 runs in consecutive games. Oh, it happens, not just very often — greetings, Attaochu.
The Chargers’ interior line needs depth, and just maybe a starter if Telesco determines the millions headed Jeromey Clary’s way could be better spend — hola, Watt.
The other three fresh Chargers are nose tackle Ryan Carrethers (Arkansas State), running back Marion Grice (Arizona State) and wide receiver Tevin Reese (Baylor).
Of that trio, the bulky Carrethers has the best shot of earning a roster spot.
Of that trio, the speedy Reese has the best nickname unless you can find something keener than “Sweet Feet.’’
How this six-pack of Baby Bolts fare will be determined during the hot, sticky summer at training camp.
It’ll feature plenty of spirited competition with the Chargers eager to prove last year’s playoff run was no fluke.
Me? I can’t wait to see Chargers coach Mike McCoy, especially if he’s wearing that Statue of Liberty crown.
He’ll be easy to spot among the team’s huddled masses; one welcoming six new draft picks trying to make the grade.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports