Let's Go Drafting:
The bad news is that the San Diego Chargers don't really having a starting Left Tackle on their roster right now. The good news is that the 2013 NFL Draft is right around the corner and there are plenty of reasons to believe that the team could replace Jared Gaither with one of their draft picks. Let's see who will be available for Kid Dynamite to choose from...
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M - 6'6", 306lbs
It doesn't matter how good Joeckel is. He's going to be the #1 overall pick, and the Chargers are not going to trade up to get him. Bad teams, once that missed the playoffs the last few years and have as many holes as the Chargers do, do not give up multiple picks to move up in the NFL Draft. Teams that are "rebuilding" with a new GM and new coaching staff don't hedge their bets on one player like that. Not anymore. Not after Ricky Williams.
Expected Draft Position: 1st overall
Eric Fisher, Central Michigan - 6'7", 306lbs
See everything I said above about Joeckel.
Expected Draft Position: Top 5 pick
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma - 6'6", 303lbs
The only reason Johnson might be there for the Chargers at #11 is that, as former QB (high school), TE and DE, he's a bit inexperienced and raw as an Offensive Tackle. However, with each impressive workout, it becomes more likely that the Arizona Cardinals will select Lane with their 7th overall pick.
Expected Draft Position: 1st Round
D.J. Fluker, Alabama - 6'5", 339lbs
Fluker is the main reason why I don't think the Chargers need to get an Offensive Tackle in the first round. If he's the best one available, they should certainly pass on him. Not only is he a poor fit for any sort of Zone Blocking system, he's a Right Tackle that's not so great at pass protection. That's not the type of player you use a first-round selection on if you're Tom Telesco.
Expected Draft Position: Late 1st Round
Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff - 6'5", 306lbs
I must admit, Armstead if quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Here's some things you need to know about him:
- He ran the fastest 40 time at the NFL Combine for an offensive lineman. Ever.
- He was a highly-regarded prospect coming out of high school that turned down offers from bigger football programs because they wouldn't let him compete in Shot Put.
- Nearly every scouting report on him starts with the phrase "remarkable athlete" or "shockingly athletic".
Terron was dominant as Left Tackle in college, but played in a conference that few ever got to see. He impressed at the Combine and was very good against other top seniors at the Senior Bowl. Similar to Lane Johnson, Armstead has #1 pick talent but won't be drafted in the first round because he's "raw" (and because he didn't face top-tier talent).
Expected Draft Position: 2nd Round
Menelik Watson, Florida State - 6'5", 310lbs
Sometimes referred to as "The English Michael Oher", Watson is as raw as they come. He's also brimming with potential/talent after just one season with Florida State. While he could turn into a Top 5 Left Tackle with the right coaching, he's nowhere near ready to start and the questions about his love of football bring on Jared Gaither flashbacks.
Expected Draft Position: Late 1st Round/Early 2nd Round
Justin Pugh, Syracuse - 6'5", 307lbs
I'm including him because people have asked me about him. Everything I've read on Pugh says that, despite playing Left Tackle in college, he's an Offensive Guard in the NFL. Not someone you really want to trust with being your starting Left Tackle in his rookie season, probably. Needs to add more bulk.
Expected Draft Position: Late 2nd Round/Early 3rd Round
Barrett Jones, Alabama - 6'5", 306lbs
Jones is intriguing. In his Junior season, he won the Outland Trophy as a Left Tackle. In his Senior season, he won the Rimington Award as a Center. He is technically gifted enough to play any of the five spots along the offensive line, but there are questions about if he's physically gifted enough to play any of them at an NFL level. Is dropping down draft boards due to foot surgery he had after the national championship game.
Expected Draft Position: Anywhere from 2nd Round to 4th Round
Kyle Long, Oregon - 6'6", 313lbs
The problem with Chip Kelly's offense at Oregon is that, since the offensive linemen never have to hold their blocks very long, it doesn't showcase whether or not the offensive linemen can hold their blocks for very long.
Kyle is Howie's kid, which make him Chris Long's brother. He has all of the physical tools to succeed as a Left Tackle in the NFL, but he's viewed as "raw" and inexperienced because of the way he plays and the offense he played in. Could turn into a hell of a player very quickly, but he could be a risky pick for a team looking for immediate help on the offensive line.
Expected Draft Position: 3rd Round
There are three guys that are ready to start as Left Tackles in the NFL in 2013, and a bunch of other guys that are probably too raw to do that with. I am starting to seriously doubt that any of those top three guys will be available with the 11th pick, which would leave Tom Telesco with a long list of raw Tackle prospects to choose from in the 2nd Round.