Many have been fixated on the San Diego Chargers’ glaring needs along the offensive line this offseason. So much so that many have actually overlooked the fact that the Bolts lost both starting cornerbacks in free agency and have only been able to add one replacement thus far. While both former Chargers remain on the open market as of now, the team seems intent on turning over a new leaf at several positions under this new regime. So which position is most pressing for the Bolts; cornerback or offensive line?
This question is kind of like the chicken or the egg only not nearly as likely to get you ostracized as a result of discussion. Let’s begin on the offensive line where quarterback Philip Rivers has been abused in recent seasons, and his numbers have suffered as a result. Jared Gaither is a complete waste of money, time, oxygen… well, maybe I should stop there. Both starting guards left in free agency and only Chad Reinhart was added as a replacement. Center Nick Hardwick is really the only consistent presence left that is unless you could the consistently terrible and penalty-prone Jeromey Clary at right tackle.
In short, the offensive line is a mess and definitely needs addressed, but corner is just as questionable. Unless the Bolts want to start the recently signed Derek Cox with Marcus Gilchrist, they must find another corner at some point. Personally, I think Gilchrist would thrive as a starting corner due to his competitive nature and desire to push himself to bigger and better things. The larger the occasion, the better he plays. The organization may not agree with those sentiments however which brings corner into the discussion.
All of this leads up to the NFL Draft where the Bolts have their seven allotted choices to add quality players to a roster that desperately needs some. With the 11th overall pick in round one, many have Lane Johnson pegged to the Chargers. While that is certainly possible, what if Johnson isn’t available and the three top tackles are gone? Cornerback Dee Milliner is considered the top of the position by many, but he leaves a lot to be desired. How can the Chargers kill two birds with one stone in the draft this year?
Trading down would be the most logical option. If the Chargers could somehow get through the top ten picks and still have playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson on the board, plenty of teams will be itching for the chance to move up and snag him. If the Bolts could move back with a team like the Minnesota Vikings who lack playmakers after the Percy Harvin trade and acquire more ammunition (picks), the move would be a win-win.
While this doesn’t really address the chicken or the egg question or the offensive tackle or the cornerback query, it does show that the Bolts have options. Unlike years past where they seemed hemmed in, intent on trading up at all costs to get a player they needed (ahem, Ryan Mathews), this year will prove that patience is a virtue in a deep draft class. Look for the Chargers to have their cake and eat it too in April and try to fill both needs by manipulating the draft order to their liking.