As much as free agency helps a team in the rebuilding phase like the San Diego Chargers to fill some needs and retool several areas of the roster, the NFL Draft is really where an organization finds its meat and potatoes. That will clearly be the case for the Bolts who have addressed some of their needs with middle tier names as anticipated, but will likely rely on the draft to find a real impact player building toward the future. The primary area of focus figures to be the offensive line which is very much in flux this offseason. Let’s examine some possibilities for the team throughout the upcoming draft.
With the 11th overall pick, the Chargers may be faced with a scenario where all three of the top left tackles in Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, and Lane Johnson are off of the board. If that is the case, why not fill a need at the guard position? The team did sign Chad Rinehart in free agency to a one-year deal, but he figures to be a borderline solution at best during the transition to the zone-blocking scheme. If a player like Jonathan Cooper is still available and the top tackles are gone, he makes a ton of sense with his elite ability to get out in space and pull block which is a necessity in zone-blocking.
2ND, 3RD ROUNDS
While it may not be a glaring need, the inside linebacker spot is a concern now that veteran Takeo Spikes has been released. Donald Butler is one of the cornerstones on defense, but he can’t do it all by himself. Dan Connor is a name that would make sense in free agency, but it is unknown whether or not the team has contacted him since his release from the Dallas Cowboys. If the draft is where the need is addressed, guys like Nico Johnson or Jonathan Bostic make a lot of sense.
ROUNDS 4 TO 7
These rounds may not get the ratings of the earlier selections, but this is where gems can be unearthed. Darren Sproles was a fourth rounder, Michael Turner came from the fifth round, and even the much maligned Jeromey Clary has been a consistent starter found in the sixth round. This seems like a great area to try and find a complementary back for Ryan Mathews as well as more depth on the offensive line and in the secondary. Some big bruisers who will likely be late third or early fourth round names are guys like Mike Gillislee, LeVeon Bell, and Montee Ball. All three are skilled, between the tackles runners with a downhill style.
As for the depth categories, one potential gem at offensive tackle is Tanner Hawkinson who is 6’6” 295lbs. and has great athleticism. It might be a stretch to call him a poor man’s Lane Johnson, but he could certainly develop into that mold. At corner, a couple of taller guys with intrigue in Kenny Okoro and Travis Howard would make sense in the fifth or sixth round area. Both are 6’1” and would bring a physical presence to the Bolts secondary that will be missed Quentin Jammer no longer around.
For now, these are merely some names that could be of interest to the Bolts when the draft rolls around. All of these positions will need attention in one way or another and each of the players listed could be the next big thing for the Chargers organization. We’re now less than six weeks away from the draft, so it’s certainly acceptable to be getting excited at this point.