Now that Jared Gaither has officially gotten his pink slip from the San Diego Chargers, it’s time to examine the potential implications that this move will have on the fast-approaching NFL Draft in April. Even though the consensus has been that the Bolts will take a left tackle with the 11th overall selection if one of the top three are available, this decision basically etches the pick in stone, doesn’t it?
While the dream of getting Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson seemed like a possible reality for much of the recent pre-draft buildup, that probability could get dicey outside of the top 10 the closer the draft gets. The value of finding a high-quality blindside protector will only continue to rise as the draft nears, and that could leave the Chargers without an option at their 11th overall pick. We have recently outlined some scenarios for what could happen if all of the above are off of the board when San Diego selects and now that Gaither is gone, the options are fairly limited.
The signing of King Dunlap during free agency seemed more like a token move at the time, but perhaps the Chargers have some faith in him becoming the left tackle next season. As a near perfect facsimile to Gaither at 6’9” 330lbs., Dunlap certainly has the size to block out the sun on the left side of the line. 2012 was his best seasons to date as he started 12 games (predominantly at left tackle) for the Philadelphia Eagles and was arguably one of the brighter spots for that squad a year ago. It may not be ideal, but Dunlap is certainly a viable option should the team fail to land one of the elites with the 11th choice.
Probably the ideal option is to trade down if none of the big three names are left and find a nice consolation prize later in round one. That idea was detailed as a possibility when we had the Bolts taking a chance on the supremely athletic Menelik Watston. The 6’6” 320lbs. tackle also played some hoops in his collegiate days which goes a long way toward highlighting his agility and great footwork. With some development in camp and a little more experience given his mere two years of organized football, Watson could turn into an elite in his own right.
In the end, there are several possibilities for the Bolts moving forward including not drafting the position at all in round one. This team has several other needs that could be addressed like guard, running back, safety, and cornerback. In short, it won’t be difficult for General Manager Tom Telesco to find at least one player on the board that the Bolts could use when the 2013 NFL Draft rolls around in four short weeks.