Last year, the Chargers struck gold with King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart, who were both perfect fits for what the Chargers wanted to do on offense. What Offensive Line coach Joe D'Alessandris was able to get out of Dunlap is just as good as what McCoy/Whisenhunt were able to do with Rivers.
San Diego was the only team to show interest in Dunlap, and Rinehart was a backup who had played under D'Alessandris. So I'm not expecting the Chargers to go out and overpay for offensive linemen in Free Agency. The elephant in the room is whether center Nick Hardwick is going to retire or not. If that happens the one player I wouldn't mind spending big on is Alex Mack.
With the depth starting to fill out along the offensive line, it's time for the Chargers to draft and develop their own talent. This allows them to bring in players they like, and fit in with what they want to do. Looking back at his history, D'Alessandris has never drafted a tackle with arms shorter than 35". He also likes "big athletic dancing bears" that he can coach up and turn into stars.
Here's a list of a few names that the Chargers should look at if they're on the board early:
- Morgan Moses, LT, Virginia
- Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan
- Xavier Sua-Filo, RG, UCLA
- Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
There are a few other guys that are considered sleepers that I've watched that would be outstanding in this offense. Dakota Dozier is a guard from Furman that I would love, and has more upside, in my opinion, than any other guard in the draft.
The 2 centers that would fit are Weston Richburg, who I had a chance to speak with at the Senior Bowl, and USC's Marcus Martin. Both have previously played guard in their career.
|Dunlap (Injury)||Rinehart (UFA)||Hardwick (Retire?)||Clary (Contract?)||Fluker|
|Harris||Troutman||Ohrnberger (UFA)||Draft ?||Harris|
As of right now the Chargers have:
- Dunlap, who missed 5 games in 2013
- Chard Rinehart, an unrestricted free agent that was very valuable when he played
- Nick Hardwick, a situation that we have no idea about
- Jeromey Clary, carrying that disgusting contract (who I'd be surprised if he came back)
- D.J. Fluker, who was brilliant as a rookie.
You'd expect Johnnie Troutman to get a shot if Clary doesn't come back. He showed promise, but also struggled with basic aspects, like picking up stunts. But he's a rookie, and all you can ask for is promise. With D'Alessandris, I expect him to take the next step as a 2nd–year player. The Chargers are in good shape with backup Mike Harris, assuming he comes back healthy, as he can play both tackle positions. You can make an argument that each position needs to be addressed at some point this off-season.
Taking a look at the PFF chart of Free Agent guards, the Chiefs have two of the top–rated OG's, and both are slated to be unrestricted free agents. Both are likely to get paid very well. Going down the list and you see either journeymen or guys who aren't very good. Knowing that the Chargers are likely going to be stingy once again, there's one guy who's better than he's rated, and also fits the criteria of someone that can still be developed: Zane Beadles.
He's the left guard on the Denver Broncos. I went back and watched what he did in the three games against San Diego this past year, and came away thinking that there is talent there. Beadles gets the buzz words like "scrappy" and "ugly," but best of all he can get the job done. He'll also come at a bargain price. At 27, and with the experience at tackle, this is a guy worth taking a look. He recognizes stunts, has the feet you want in a guard to pull/trap, and works well on combo blocks. He's not the mauling type, but neither are Clary or Rinehart.
We know offensive tackle is a premium position, and the Chargers just aren't in a situation this year to go out and over pay for a player. That takes us inside to center. Looking at the list of guys, outside of Alex Mack, it's either inexperience or 30+ year olds. Mack would give us a smart player who is very athletic, and does a good job at getting to the next level. He's one of the few centers in the league where there wouldn't be a drop off with Hardwick.
Based on the talent pool, and the money that offensive line demands in free agency, it just makes sense for the Chargers to develop their own talent. That said, it's hard to question anyone San Diego would bring in knowing the success of the offensive line coach.