With the NFL Draft just two weeks away, it appears the football gods are not doing the Chargers or first year GM Tom Telesco any favors as the front office staff strategizes what to do with the 11th pick of the first round.
For the past couple of months it appeared the Chargers had a great chance of landing Oklahoma senior Lane Johnson and shoring up their most pressing need on the team – left offensive tackle. However, with four of the teams picking in front of them recently trading for veteran quarterbacks, speculation is the top three tackles and the two best guards could be off the board before the Chargers even make their pick.
Trading up in the draft might have been a possibility a few years back when the Chargers actually had the talent other teams want. But as witnessed by the rush to sign the free agents available from last year’s squad – basically none save for Louis Vasquez – the team Telesco took over is looking more like a team on the decline rather than a game or two away from the playoffs.
The bottom line is that poor drafting, bad contracts and letting quality players walk without getting anything in return has left a locker room once filled with elite talent now shockingly average. With so many holes to fill, perhaps the best decision Telesco can make is to trade back and stockpile picks or stay with the old belief that you pick the ‘best player available.’
If he keeps the pick and the five best offensive linemen are gone when Commissioner Roger Goodell is handed the selection, who will be the best player for the Chargers to select regardless of position?
Everyone knows the key to a successful football team starts along the offensive and defensive lines. There is also the long-held belief that you draft the most talented player available rather than drafting for need.
With that in mind, here are a few players — in no particular order — I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Chargers jersey on April 25. The rankings and quotes used to describe the players below come from Ourlads draft service and Pro Football Weekly, respectively.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida – ranked one of the top defensive tackles in the draft and 16th out of the top 20 players overall by Ourlads, the 6-2, 297-pound Floyd played each position along the defensive front for the Gators. “Explosive, athletic and disruptive defensive lineman who unselfishly played inside and outside for the good of the team and is scheme diverse, but is best suited as a penetrating three-technique in the pros. His arrow is pointing up and he has impact ability.”
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia – one could never have enough good pass rushers and Jones produced 28 sacks and 45.5 tackles for a loss in just two years as a starter. Ranked no. 5 overall by Ourlads, his spinal stenosis concern has been cleared by doctors. “Big-time, impactful, instinctive, stand-up edge rusher who can be a disruptive machine in a 3-4 front; short-circuits offenses in multiple ways and he must be accounted for every snap. Can play inside or outside, ideally at “Sam” in a “40” front.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – another top-rated defensive tackle in the draft. With the potential heart issues all cleared up, Ourlads has him ranked 6th overall. At 6-3, 311-pounds, Lotulelei is described as ‘naturally brute strong and powerful.’ “A powerfully built, athletic big man capable of controlling the line of scrimmage at any position along a “30” front and disruptive as an anchor of a “40” front. He flashes the ability to dominate, but too often leaves you wanting for more. Best football is ahead of him.”
The Endzone: The NFL Network’s draft analyst Mike Mayock recently stated he thinks “the fifth pick in the draft and the 25th pick in the draft are very similar.” If that’s the case, might Alabama’s D.J. Fluker be on the radar? Rated the top right tackle overall and no. 30 by Ourlads, the 6-4, 344 – pound Fluker could be the key to jump-starting the once proud running game the Chargers used to hang their hat on. “A massive, imposing specimen with girth and wingspan that rate as exceptional even by NFL starter standards. Isn’t a dominator yet, but has the tools to become a top-tier, mauling right tackle or powerful guard. Still young, immature and learning how to play the game.”
With all the departures from the defense this offseason if Jones is there at 11 I think you have to grab him. He led the nation in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles last year and can probably make an immediate impact on a defense lacking impact playmakers.