San Diego Chargers: Top Offensive needs in the 2012 NFL Draft

By Utsav Panchal

After a disappointing season in which the San Diego Chargers finished 8-8, and lost a playoff spot to the Denver Broncos, the management is certainly going to try and jump start a team which was predicted for a deep run to the playoffs in the 2011 season. The bright side is that the Chargers did finish strong in the last month, going 3-1, and 1-1 against playoff opponents. At times the Chargers look dominating, and other times, they look downright miserable. While the Chargers do need some minor tweaks and fixings on both sides of the ball, we’re going to take a look at what they need on the offensive side. With holes here and there, the Chargers definitely need to be on the lookout in the draft to rebuild and find key players at key positions to get the most production out of Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews. In this article, we will look for the top offensive needs in the 2012 NFL Draft for the San Diego Chargers.

With Kris Dielman having suffered a concussion and a grand mal seizure last October, he was promptly put on the IR ending his season. With the new rules on concussions and the new information we have about them, Kris Dielman has speculated retiring. With the decision looming, the Chargers should at least start looking for a backup plan at left guard. There are a plethora of great guards in the 2012 draft, many of them projected to go in the first and second rounds. The one prospect that could possibly drop down is David DeCastro from Stanford. He has the brute strength to push around defensive ends and edge linebackers for run blocking, and we often see him going into the second level of the defense, and the stats are there as Stanford was a great rushing team last year due to its massively talented offensive line. DeCastro was also a great pass blocker, blocking well for Andrew Luck, and we all know the kind of season he had. If DeCastro isn’t available, as he might go sooner, the Chargers will have to look at Cordy Glenn from Georgia. Glenn has tremendous length and great footwork speed, making him a viable run blocker, and his pass blocking has gotten better over the years.

When Marcus McNeil was placed on the IR last season, the Chargers has to sign Jared Gaither off of free agency to make up for the loss. Looking back on the season, when you lose your starting left guard and an offensive tackle, no wonder the Chargers had so many problems on the offensive front. In the outlook for 2012, it looks like the Chargers will cut McNeil in order to free up some cap space. When and if they do ct him, the depth at offensive tackle will be very thin, with presumably only Jerome Clary being the only experienced starter. This is all speculative, but if Dielman stays, the Chargers can use a first round pick on an offensive tackle. Offensive tackle is a very deep position in this years draft, with 4 prospects that could be drafted in the 1st round. The question is, can one of them drop down to the Chargers in order for them to pick one up? The top standout tackles are Matt Kalil from USC, who is projected to be a top 5 pick, followed by Riley Reiff from Iowa, projected to be a top 15 pick. Riley Reiff could possibly drop down, but its not likely, and Matt Kalil isn’t worth talking about since he will most definitely be a top 5 pick. With that said, we can look at the 3rd and 4th prospects, starting with Johnathon Martin, another Stanford prodigy. Johnathon Martin was a solid blocker for Andrew Luck’s blind side, providing ample protection. While he did allow some pressure, he was reliable enough for Andrew Luck to succeed. He was also a strong run blocker, with Stanford having a 440 yard game against Washington, among many other strong rushing performances.

Now if Riley Reiff and Dielman comes back, the Chargers have another need that needs some serious addressing. The worry of Vincent Jackson. We can all hope that the Chargers will sign V-Jax back and have a solid receiving corp with Jackson, Floyd, and Gates, but Jackson isn’t a 100% certainty right now. We don’t know if he wants to test out free agency, and we don’t know if the Chargers are willing to spend a ton of cash on him. So here, we’re going to look at some receiving options for the Chargers in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma St. is such a stud receiver, that there is no reason to think he won’t be picked in the top 5. Then we have Alshon Jeffery from S. Carolina, who could also be a potential top 15 pick. He could very well slide down and pay off immediately though. Jeffery was held back with poor quarterback play, but his size and athletic ability demanded a lot of double and triple teams. His run blocking was excellent and he should pay off for a team very quickly. Dropping down from the top 2, we have Michael Floyd from Notre Dame, who could easily be one of the best receivers of the draft. His ridiculous size, athletic ability and speed make him such a big mismatch for NFL corners, that he should have an eventful season in the NFL. He has great hands, and it wasn’t until deep into the season that he dropped his first pass. The only problem with him is that he did have some off field problems, such as a DUI, but he was reinstated. Barring any complex character issues, Floyd looks to be a reliable pick, and he should provide for the chargers immediately.

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