Left tackle: one of the most important positions in the NFL since, well, ever. When a team struggles at the position like the San Diego Chargers did in 2012, it spells trouble for the entire outlook of the season. With the fiasco that was Jared Gaither, the Bolts painfully found this out first hand a year ago as their revolving door protecting quarterback Philip Rivers’ blindside was just that, a revolving door for opposing pass rushers to pass right through. This offseason hasn’t exactly seen any additions that would suggest immediate change to this point, but that may be about the change.
While the Chargers did sign the massive King Dunlap (6’9” 330lbs.) during free agency, he may provide little more than additional depth to offensive line in desperate need of some. The NFL Draft seemed like the most likely spot for the Bolts to find their left tackle of the future for a while, but the premium on offensive linemen has pushed the stock of the three elite left tackles in this draft class into the stratosphere and above where San Diego picks at 11th overall.
When this whole quandary first arose, my proposal was that the team should do everything it could to find a left tackle of the future in free agency and address another position in the draft. It seems that they may be coming around to that idea with recent reports that the Bolts have reached out to Bryant McKinnie and could potentially even look at Max Starks before all is said and done.
Neither one of these guys exactly screams All-Pro at this point in their careers, but either would be a significant upgrade to the current roster. Both have won a Super Bowl in the past decade with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers respectively, and that says a great deal about what they can provide both on the field and in the locker room for a team. The mere fact that the Chargers have been linked to these two guys in any capacity is certainly encouraging news.
The upcoming draft may not be where the Bolts find their left tackle of the future as many of us once believed, but that might not be all bad. This team has been mired in mediocrity in recent years due to a stagnant coaching staff and tired philosophies. Just a few key pieces along with the new leadership could inspire a real change for the 2013 season. Fans have to believe that even though this rebuild is still a work in progress, the Chargers really aren’t that far away from contending for a playoff spot in the coming year.