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Looking to the Future: What the San Diego Chargers Need to Address

When looking at what a team needs come draft time, it is important to look beyond the current year. With a lot of the Chargers' key contributors in a contract year in 2014 (or with a tricky 2015 cap situation), San Diego may need to draft players to groom as their replacements. These position groups could be fairly thin if potential free agents do not sign. (All contract information is from

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It's no secret that the Chargers need a starting-caliber cornerback on the roster immediately, but looking beyond 2015 is even scarier. Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, the Bolts starting cornerback duo for much of 2013, both have contracts expiring after this season. Also, safety/slot-corner Marcus Gilchrist is also in a contract year.

Even if the Chargers select a corner at number #25 overall in the upcoming draft, they may to stop there. Not including potential rookies, the CB's under contract for 2015 include Brandon Ghee, Steve Williams, Marcus Cromartie, and Brandon Jones (that is 95 total NFL snaps, all from Ghee).

The Chargers face a particularly tough dilemma, because with the way offenses throw the ball around in today's NFL, depth at cornerback is as important as ever. It is also a position that some say is the second most difficult to play next to quarterback and rookies can take quite a bit of time adjusting to the speed of the game. The Chargers could look to re-sign players like Wright, but that leaves them stuck with lackluster talent at the position. San Diego should look to add a cornerback both early as well as late in the draft to start to build and develop some talent.

Outside Linebacker

Dwight Freeney was truly dominant in his 3+ games as a Charger. He managed 19 QB pressures (PFF) in just 173 total snaps. The problem is, well, he only played 173 snaps. He is also 34 years old and in the final year of his contract.

Combine that with the fact that Jarret Johnson will be 33 by the time this season starts, it's time to start looking for a future edge rusher at outside linebacker. in 2015, Johnson will count for $7.5 million against the cap and the team could save a cool $6 million by releasing him after the 2014 season. I find it hard to believe that either player will be a Charger past 2014.

A rookie would greatly benefit from learning from players like Johnson, who has made a career as a strong, run-defending edge player as well as Freeney, a future Hall of Fame speed rusher. It's time to find a young player to serve as depth in his rookie season and take over as a starter across from Melvin Ingram in the future. They shouldn't be afraid to pull the trigger if they see good value at the position pretty much anywhere in the draft.

Wide Receiver

Eddie Royal took a pay cut to stay with the team in 2014, but his contract is up after the season. Vincent Brown will also be a free agent. Malcolm Floyd is technically under contract, but with a serious neck injury (along with many other injuries throughout his career), cannot be counted on as a starter.

The Bolts need immediate help across from Keenan Allen, as well as players to develop for the future. Allen and Floyd are the only receivers who have played an NFL snap who are signed past this season, so wide receiver should be considered early and often for the Chargers. Lucky for San Diego, receiver is the deepest position in this year's draft.

Offensive Line

Nick Hardwick contemplated retirement prior to the 2014 season, but decided to return. Given that, he is still 32 years old and in the final year of his contract. The Chargers may want to find some stability for the future at center.

King Dunlap is also in his contract year. If injuries weren't a concern, he would have been one of the top left tackles in the game last year. However, the Chargers could be facing a tough situation on whether or not to sign him to a long-term deal, considering he suffered multiple concussions last year. It wouldn't hurt to find some depth and a player that could develop into a starter at left tackle down the road.

Jeromey Clary is also in a contract year. I don't know how he managed to stay on the roster this long, at full salary none the less, but there is still a chance he is released. Whether or not he is on the roster, the Chargers need a starting guard of the future. There is hope that Johnnie Troutman could develop into a starter, but Tom Telesco shouldn't let that stop him from grabbing an interior lineman that can start at guard in this draft.