Everyone has their own take on the fast-approaching NFL Draft at this time of year. Projections have players going in a wide variety of different places, and in a draft this even in terms of talent, that’s to be expected. For the San Diego Chargers, they would like something a little more concrete than that to go on at this point however as the team prepares to rebuild a substandard offensive line that has had quarterback Philip Rivers under siege in recent years. Let’s take a look at a projection of our own and try to determine just where the Bolts will go in round one.
Here is what my version of the first 10 picks looks like:
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
5. Detroit Lions – Ezekial Ansah, DE, BYU
6. Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
7. Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
8. Buffalo Bills – Matt Barkley, QB, USC
9. New York Jets – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
10. Tennessee Titans – Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
11. San Diego Chargers – ??????
While this is far from set in stone still one month away from draft day, the Chargers would be put in quite a predicament if things were to transpire this way. The team desperately wants to snag a top-tier offensive tackle, but all three of the elite prospects are gone by pick number seven in this version. That would force the Bolts to re-prioritize their list of needs if tackle is taken completely off the table.
In this version, Star Lotulelei and Jarvis Jones are still available, but the Bolts have stocked up on defensive front seven players in the last handful of drafts. Both of those players seem highly unlikely, regardless of their elite talent level. Clearly trading down is an option as well with a team that covets one of the aforementioned talents, but let’s not be hasty. Cornerback is a position of need, but Xavier Rhodes is not Dee Milliner and that would be a reach at best.
If the top tackle talent is gone by the time the Chargers are put on the clock, for my money, Jonathan Cooper makes sense. The guard from North Carolina is the ideal fit in the new zone-blocking scheme that the Bolts plan to run in 2013. I made the case for him coming to San Diego just a few days ago actually. There is no reason to panic and reach for a tackle when guard is a glaring position of need as well, and Cooper will fill that hole perfectly.
There are sure to be several more projections between now and April 25th, but as we stand one month away from that night in Radio City Music Hall, the Chargers have their man in Cooper.