Tom Telesco has been flying under the radar with his recent signings. Before they were signed, had you ever heard of King Dunlap? or Chad Rinehart? I didn't think so. I did a little digging to find out about these two, and here is what I found. King Dunlap was the Philadelphia Eagles 7th round selection in the 2008 Draft out of the University of Auburn. There, he replaced someone we all know, Marcus McNiell, at left tackle. While in Philly, Dunlap played all of the offensive line positions except center, and played fairly well in both pass protection and run blocking. He could challenge for a starting spot here. Now Chad Rinehart. He was selected in the 3rd round of the 2008 Draft by the Washington Redskins out of Northern Iowa. He has also had stints with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. In fact, Rinehart played for our current offensive line coach, Joe D'Alessandris while playing in Buffalo. He has started 21 of his 31 games played since 2009. You know D'Alessandris had something to do with this signing. Rinehart may also have a chance to start, and he'll provide some continuity having played with his coach elsewhere. He is great at run-blocking and decent at pass protection. Now bring in the possibility of signing former Chief tackle Eric Winston, and the entire landscape of the front five should be different. Winston would be an immediate replacement over Jeromey Clary on the right side. Dunlap would be better off on the left side than Jared Gaither, who should not recieve any playing time unless it is desperately needed. Did you see him just give up and the end of the Saints game? It looks like he just let Martez Wilson sack Rivers to end that game. Anyways, the Chargers also have a lot of faith in second year player Johnnie Troutman at left guard. So, as of today (if we were to sign Winston), their starting five up front would be Winston, Rinehart, Hardwick, Troutman, and Dunlap. That doesn't sound half bad, considering the Chargers will definitely add more depth in the Draft.
The new Chargers GM has also made the move to sign 5th year cornerback Derek Cox, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who played his collegiate career at William & Mary. Cox had as many interceptions in his 12 games last year as both Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason did last year with 4. Durability is really the only question for the 6'1" 195 pound defensive back, as he has only played all 16 games once in his career. A new strength and conditioning staff in San Diego should help with that, though. Telesco also claimed Johnny Patrick off waivers from the New Orleans Saints. Patrick played in 15 games last year, and started one of them. The departures of Cason and Jammer seem less severe considering the signing of Cox. Expect the Chargers brass to add depth to this position still.
The Chargers have also added former Patriot Danny Woodhead, from Chaldron State. He will fill the hole left by Darren Sproles, and he may prove to be even better for Philip Rivers than Sproles was. In his 6th season, Woodhead has accumulated 1,263 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He has also tallied 1,069 yards and 4 touchdowns catching the ball. Woodhead is also a good kick returner, averaging 21.6 yards per return. Woodhead can line up behind or next to Rivers, in the slot, or even out wide. Despite this signing, The Chargers need an insurance policy for the injury-proned Ryan Mathews. Look for San Diego to add more backs.
Without further ado, here is my mock.
1.) Dion Jordan DE/OLB, Oregon. The Chargers needed pass rushers even before the let Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes go. Now, with both of the gone, they have lost 12.5 of their 38 sacks this year and 26 total sacks the past two years combined. Add in that Larry English is a bust, and Jarret Johnson is primarily a run stopper, a pass rush specialist is in dire need in San Diego. Jordan is a monster of a man, at 6'7" 248 pounds. He can do it all, he can rush the passer at a high level, he can stop the run, and he can even drop back into coverage. Pair him with Melvin Ingram, and you have one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL.
Other possibilities include Jarvis Jones OLB, Georgia, Chance Warmack OG, Alabama, and Star Lotulelei DT/DE, Utah.
2.) Manti Te'o MLB, Notre Dame. San Diego recently cut Takeo Spikes, and Demorrio Williams likely won't be back, so a strong presence is needed alongside Donald Butler in the middle of that defense. Te'o may lack straight-line speed, but he plays fast, and he plays very smart. He was the leader or the Notre Dame defense for 4 seasons. Before the Catfish scandal, Te'o was widely considered a top-10 pick. If he were to fall here to the 15th pick in the 2nd round, the Chargers would be crazy to let him slip. I think they should trade higher in the 2nd to make sure they get him, but we shall see.
Other possibilities include Terron Armstead OT, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee, and Zach Ertz TE, Stanford.
3.) Dallas Thomas OT/OG, Tennessee. San Diego still needs linemen, and they get a good one here in Dallas Thomas. Thomas started 25 games at left tackle for the Vols, and played left guard his senior year under coach Derek Dooley. The fact that he can play both guard and tackle will prove to be an asset for the Chargers as they attempt to revamp their offense as a whole. He was considered a first rounder early in the process but has slipped due to being susceptible to speed rushers at times.
Other possibilities include Jordan Reed TE, Florida, Da'Rick Rogers WR, Tennessee Tech, and Larry Warford OG, Kentucky.
4.) Tyrann Matheiu CB, Louisiana State. Tyrann Matheiu was also considered a day one or day two pick in next months draft, but off-field issues caused him to be benched by Les Miles, and ultimately kicked from the football program altogether. When he was on the field, though, he was all over the field. He was making plays in the backfield and in the back of the defense. He was the Hiesman runner-up a year ago, and displayed great speed, coverage skills, and ball skills. If he can fix his off field issues, he may be the steal of the draft.
Other possibilities include Leon McFadden CB, San Diego State, Shawn Williams, SS Georgia, and Robert Lester SS, Alabama.
4.) (Proposed trade) Le'Veon Bell RB, Michigan State. As I stated previously, the Chargers need an insurance policy for Ryan Mathews. Bell fits the bill. He stands at 6'2" 230 pounds, which is massive for a running back. Bell is a power back, that can break tackles easily with his strength, quickness, and pad level. He may lack breakaway speed, but he can still be very effective if used properly. If Ryan Mathews can stay healthy, you may be looking at one of the best backfields in the league, with Mathews, Bell, Woodhead, Ronnie Brown, and the recently acquired Fozzy Whittaker.
Other possibilities include Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina, Landry Jones QB, Oklahoma, and Bennie Logan DT, Louisiana State.
5.) Everett Dawkins DT, Florida State. The Chargers have recently cut both Aubrayo Franklin and Antonio Garay, and Garay has just signed with the Jets. They need a defensive tackle. Dawkins was Second-Team All ACC this past season. He stands at 6'2" 292 pounds, and if he is coached up a little can play extremely well behind Cam Thomas. If he develops enough, he may challenge Thomas for the starting gig.
Other possibilities include Kenny Stills WR, Oklahoma, Cobi Hamilton WR, Arkansas, and Dion Sims TE, Michigan State.
6.) Jelani Jenkins OLB, Florida. The Chargers are thin at outside linebacker, and need as much help as possible. Jenkins can do a little bit of everything. He can drop into coverage, he can rush the passer, and he can stop the run. Many question his decision to leave the Gators a year early, considering he had a few injuries throughout his junior campaign that caused him to miss 4 games. When healthy, he plays well. The Chargers can afford to gamble a little bit with their 6th rounder, so I see them taking Jenkins.
Other possibilities include Knile Davis RB, Arkansas, William Gholston DE, Michigan State, and Nickell Robey CB, Southern California.
7.) Kwame Geathers DT, Georgia. Like I said, the Chargers are currently down to one defensive tackle. Geathers is extremely massive, at 6'6" 342 pounds. That sounds a lot like former Charger Jamal Williams. If he can stay in shape continue to improve through the offseason and training camp, he could land a spot in the rotation at DT.
Other options include Collin Klein QB, Kansas State, Denard Robinson WR/KR, Michigan, and P.J. Lonergan C, Louisiana State.