After being rather quiet in free agency, the San Diego Chargers have plenty of needs to fill in the upcoming NFL Draft. Although everyone is quick to say that the Chargers will grab an offensive lineman when they pick 11th overall, the top three offensive tackles might not be available. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher will certainly be gone, while even Lane Johnson could go in the top 10.
Though the top three tackles could be gone, at least one of the top three pass rushing outside linebackers should be available. Dion Jordan will likely be gone, but Jarvis Jones and Barkevious Mingo could both be available when San Diego is on the clock.
The Chargers just used a first-round pick on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram in last year’s draft, but still have a huge need at the position. Ingram disappointed in his rookie season, recording just one sack, while last season’s top pass rusher, Shaun Phillips, is a free agent and isn’t expected back. The Bolts would be taking a huge risk by relying on Ingram as their top (and only decent) pass rusher next season, and could be tempted to grab a defensive playmaker like Jones or Mingo.
However, both Jones and Mingo would also be risks for the Bolts.
The knock on Ingram coming out of college was that he didn’t have the ideal frame or brute strength that some of the league’s top pass rushers have. Similar things were said about Larry English, the Chargers’ first round pick in 2009, who has just 8.5 sacks in his four-year career and is largely considered one of A.J. Smith’s biggest draft busts.
Jones (6-foot-2, 242 pounds) and Mingo (6-foot-4, 241 pounds) are both considered undersized and have similar body types to Ingram and English. That doesn’t mean they won’t have success, but by having players with similar physical tools, the Chargers would limit their ability to create mismatches by lining up their pass rushers strategically on opposing offensive linemen. If the Chargers were going to spend another high first-round pick on another outside linebacker, it’d be better to get a guy who would at least bring something different to the table.
Additionally, Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis early in his collegiate career. Though he’s been cleared to play in the NFL, Jones may not be worth the risk. The Chargers know all too well about career-ending injuries. Remember, Marcus McNeill’s career ended with a neck injury. Meanwhile, despite his raw athleticism, Mingo didn’t have great production last season and one has to wonder if he can produce at the next level.
The Chargers would be better off looking elsewhere.