Offensive Line Tops List of Needs for San Diego Chargers in 2013 NFL Draft
Finding overlooked prospects in any given draft class is one of those achievements that provides a general manager with a honeymoon period with an organization. Former San Diego Chargers GM A.J. Smith parlayed his beginner’s luck into nearly a decade at the helm for the franchise. For new GM Tom Telesco, he hopes to do something similar in his first draft experience with the club. The offensive line is where he needs to begin his search and there are a few players that make an awful lot of sense for a San Diego roster starving for talent in the trenches.
New offensive line coach Joe D’Allesandris will bring his zone blocking approach to the Bolts in 2013 which means the need for a personnel makeover. With the Buffalo Bills, this scheme was ultra-successful yielding the 6th ranked rushing offense in the NFL during 2012 while the team gave up just 30 sacks, good for 10th in the league. For a Chargers team that was awful in both areas last season ranking 31st in rushing and 29th in sacks allowed with 49, these upgrades will be much appreciated.
In order to achieve these improvements however, the Bolts will need to find the proper pieces to execute this new philosophy. A player that has been climbing draft boards is Lane Johnson, a converted tight end who gained nearly 100 pounds from his senior year of high school to his present size with the Oklahoma Sooners to entering the draft. Johnson has undeniable athleticism as you would expect, but coming from the spread style could be an issue. If he can demonstrate enough power in his showing at the Scouting Combine, Johnson could easily be the choice with the 11th overall selection for the Bolts.
Just one upgrade isn’t going to do the trick for a team that struggled so mightily a season ago however, so with the 45th overall choice early in round two, the Chargers should target some additional help. One sneaky player that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention, but has a real pedigree is former Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker.
Fluker is a massive player at 6’6” 335lbs. and has some lingering health concerns (sound familiar?). It should because former Bolts second round pick Marcus McNeill was a similar huge, SEC tackle that flourished in his abbreviated NFL stint. If the team could get anything even remotely close to that from Fluker in 2013, what an improvement that would be for an offensive line that has been abysmal.
Jared Gaither has one foot out the door on the left side and Jeromey Clary is far overdue for being replaced on the right. If an overhaul of this magnitude could be executed in his first season at the helm, Tom Telesco would be well on his way to rebuilding this Bolts team.