After a surprising yet successful year in the books for the 2013 Chargers, it is now time to look at the needs for the team in 2014. Although the Chargers had a better record this year than they did in 2012, the needs for the team are much more apparent than last. Obviously, Tom Telesco decided to take a chance on numerous positions and it did not bode well. But, this move did give the Chargers a better understanding in terms of where they are at; something they did not have in 2012. With that being said, here are the position of needs for the Chargers:
This is the most obvious need for the Chargers. There was absolutely nothing that was good about the play of the cornerbacks this season. Shareece Wright and Derek Cox began the season as starters, but one of them would not finish the season as one. That would be Derek Cox. Now as far as Cox goes, I still have hope in him, but only for one reason; he proved in Jacksonville that he can be capable of playing the cornerback position at least a little bit good. For that reason, I agree with Tom Telesco to give Derek Cox one more year and instead maybe switch it up with the coaching staff, like hiring a new defensive backs coach. That does not mean I think he should start next season. Instead, the chargers should draft a corner back and even pick up a young, under the radar corner back that the coaching staff can develop themselves in free agency, and let all of the defensive backs compete in the off season. That way, you are giving every guy on the roster a chance to prove himself.
Although the outside linebacker position was a group that was plagued the most by injuries, it did make it clear to the organization just how bad their depth was. In a John Pagano defense, a good pass rush is very important. But, in this draft, I don't think the Chargers necessarily need to look for a starter like they need to do for the secondary. Instead, they need to create more depth. Now, I don't know if I would be considering the OLB position as a position of need if Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney weren't injured for most of the season. But the reality is, Dwight Freeney is going to be 34 going into next season, and Jarrett Johnson isn't getting any younger either. It's very likely that the guys that will be starting in week 1, won't be starting in week 17. For that reason, it is essential that the Chargers draft a young and explosive guy that can open up opportunities for the other players on the team.
Note: If the Chargers do not re-sign Donald Butler (which I think they will), the inside linebacker position will be just as big of a need.
The offensive line was probably the most improved part of the Chargers from 2012 to 2013. This team went from the worst offensive line to becoming a top 10 caliber group. I give all credit to Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhut, and Joe D'Alessandris. But, there still are some holes to be fixed. Chad Rinehart did play above average in his first year as a Charger, but he did prove that he cannot stay healthy for a full season. Jeromy Clary was probably the worst offensive lineman of the whole group. He still has some gaping holes in his play. That's why I can very well see Clary being cut this offseason. The Chargers need to take full advantage of the ability that Joe D'Alessandris has at developing players and draft an offensive guard towards the middle of the draft.
With Danario Alexander going down before the season even began, and Malcolm Floyd injuring his neck in week 2, the Chargers were in a very tough spot. When your top 2 receivers go down early in the season, it is hard for any team to bounce back from that. But, with the help of Keenan Allen, the Chargers were still somehow in decent shape. If it wasn't for Keenan Allen.... just imagine Vincent Brown being the number 1 receiver for a NFL team. Although Allen did a tremendous job filling in, there is a very good chance that Danario Alexander isn't going to get another shot at being a wide receiver in the NFL, and there have been numerous articles rumoring that Malcolm Floyd's latest injury could spell out career ending. If this is all true (and that's a big IF), the Chargers are going to be in desperate need of a wide receiver to complement Keenan Allen. Vincent Brown has showed this year that he does not fit this offense as well as we all would've liked. Even if Floyd and Alexander do end up playing in Charger uniforms next season, I would still like to see a wide receiver targeted later in the draft just to add depth.
As I said earlier in the article, Tom Telesco took a lot of chances this year. Keeping Cam Thomas as the starting defensive tackle, along with the undrafted rookie free agent in Kwame Geathers to back him up, was one of them. A nose tackle is known as the anchor of a 3-4 defense, so it is a very important position for the Chargers. Not only was Cam Thomas no where to be found for most of the season, he was also benched midway through the year. Tom Telesco did make a smart decision not re-signing Thomas, because he would've been much more expensive last year than he was this year. The mistake that TT made was the failure to have a backup plan. Telesco had no plan B if Thomas wasn't going to preform as well as we all expected him to. Although Cam did pick up the pace toward the end of the season, I do not see him as a franchise nose tackle or an anchor of this defense at all.
Although Ryan Mathews did great this year and started in all 16 games, one thing did stand out as far as the running backs are concerned. The Chargers are not equipped with a viable back up for Ryan Mathews. Just look at how lost the Chargers were running the ball when Ryan Mathews was out versus Denver. Danny Woodhead is great, but their is only so much a human being can do. Ronnie Brown just does not have the tangibles anymore to be dependent on. With all that being said, the Chargers should cut Ronnie Brown and replace him with a mid to late round draft pick that the organization can develop on their own.
The San Diego Chargers are in need of a lot of help as far as depth goes, and that's what the Chargers should focus on in the draft. Telesco needs to have faith in his coaching staff to develop players because that's the best bet a team has when picking 25th overall in the draft. The number one thing Telesco and company should be targeting in a player is athleticism and speed. If they do that, the Chargers will be in good shape for the 2014 season.