The draft is over, and rookie mini camps are beginning around the league. San Diego Chargers newcomers D.J. Fluker, Manti Te’o and Keenan Allen are all set to compete for starting jobs at their respective positions. I’m of the belief that new general manager Tom Telesco did a phenomenal job getting value in the draft. Fluker and Te’o are likely to be immediate starters, and if Allen is healthy, he’ll make Philip Rivers‘s life that much easier.
While the team has added some great pieces at positions they needed help, there’s no doubt that the biggest hole in the lineup is still at left tackle. For a team that gave up 49 sacks in 2013, there simply can’t be that type of question.
Three of the top four picks in the draft were offensive tackles. Eric Fisher of the Kansas City Chiefs and Luke Joeckel of the Jacksonville Jaguars are immediate starters on the left side, and Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles could play on either side. No doubt Fluker is going to step in and contribute on the offensive line, but moving up to take a left tackle would have made sense.
Still, after all is said and done at the draft, the Chargers have yet to find a new left tackle, and Rivers simply can’t continue to take a beating like he did last year. While the group of linemen looking for work continues to dwindle, the team will need to decide if they’re going to go with King Dunlap or bring someone in to battle with him in camp. Telesco and his team clearly have a plan, and cutting Jared Gaither after an awful year on the left side shows they’re willing to make moves that will help the team in the long term, even if the financial hit in the short term is less than pleasant. Yet, while the Chargers trim down, other tackles have continued to sign elsewhere.
Making these long-term decisions, much like the New England Patriots are known for, is great. At a certain point, however, they need to make a move for 2013. With the news that veteran Max Starks is in town for a visit, the Chargers could start in the right direction by signing him right away, as long as the price is right. The immediate competition with Dunlap can only prove to make both of them better. It’s not going to be a “sexy” free agent move, but it’s exactly what the team needs right now.