Now that free agency is winding down, it’s becoming much easier to truly assess the needs for the San Diego Chargers in the upcoming NFL Draft. The primary position being pegged at the top of the club’s list of priorities is the left tackle spot where the enigma that is Jared Gaither has clearly fallen out of favor. New General Manager Tom Telesco has given Gaither a clean slate in his evaluations, but it remains to be seen what will happen with the situation around the Big Lazy.
Just because the left tackle position is seen as the primary need for the Bolts this offseason doesn’t mean that a value and need combination will present itself with the 11th overall pick. Recently we have discussed the possibility to perhaps drafting a guard instead of a tackle or even moving to a secondary need (pun intended) and selecting a cornerback at that spot. One thing that hasn’t been talked about yet is the possibility of trading down, so let’s explore that option.
If the top three elite left tackles are all off of the board when the Bolts are put on the clock, the dilemma doesn’t have to put the team in a position to reach. There really is no track record for Telesco as a GM yet in the NFL, but he could start a favorable one trading down. Former GM A.J. Smith moved down in round one during his entire tenure and actually traded up an insane 16 spots to draft running back Ryan Mathews in 2010. The farther Telesco can stay away from his previous trail, the better in the eyes of most fans.
Without a tackle that is thought of as an elite level player available at pick 11, the Chargers have to hope that some intriguing names are still on the board when they choose. If Jarvis Jones, Star Lotulelei, Cordarrelle Patterson, or even a quarterback of intrigue is still available, perhaps the Bolts could find a partner to move back.
But who would the Chargers target in moving back?
While this is a different name than has been mentioned in the past, if the Bolts could move down to the 18 to 25 area, why not target Menelik Watson out of Florida State? The former basketball player is 6’6” 320lbs. and has the raw strength to toss opposing defenders around like rag dolls. Many comparisons liken him to former top 10 pick Tyron Smith of the Dallas Cowboys due to his length and raw athletic ability. Watson would make a lot of sense even if the Bolts for some inexplicable reason decide to hang on to Gaither for one more year.
With just one year of major college football under his belt, Watson has no bad habits and could be developed into a masterful pass protector for Philip Rivers. Many scouts believe him to be just as formidable as Lane Johnson, but he could be added while moving down and accumulating more draft choices. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a win-win to me.