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Completing the Castle Wall

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The last article in my offensive line series. We are going to look at guards and centers combined because with DJ Fluker at RG and Chris Watt's ability to play LG or C, the Chargers have some flexibility to grab an OG or a C. So do we build a section of wall, or a new gate house?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

So we've looked at the Tackle prospects that the Chargers could take early to be the missing "Turret" in the wall we need to build Philip Rivers and whoever he is handing off too next year.  That leaves the middle.  Part of that wall has already been built, or so we've heard.

Reports are that DJ Fluker will be moving inside to OG, likely RG, next year.  Tom Telesco and his crew also spent a day 2 pick on C/OG Chris Watt last year as well.  That puts the Chargers in a pretty good position when they look to finish off the interior of the offensive line, especially due to Watt's position flexibility.

The Chargers showed they have confidence in Watt at either C or G last year.  Therefore Tom Telesco can set up his draft board to grab the best center OR guard at whatever point in the draft they want to address this.  Most guards and centers will start coming off the board in the 2nd round, although Florida State C Cameron Erving could go in the 1st if a team falls in love.

But enough of the boring stuff, I know you all are here to see what names I'm going to throw out and why.  So lets get to it.

FSU Interior.

You read that right.  The whole interior of Florida State's line.  I would take any of them on my team and be very happy about it.

Cameron Erving - C - 6'5" 308lbs FSU

Erving started out as the LT for FSU last season and most of this season.  After an injury, and some early struggles by Erving at LT this year, he was moved to C for the final 5 games of the season.  He shined at C, and in only 5 games there jumped ahead of the leading multi year centers Reese Dismukes of Auburn and Hronnis Grassu of Oregon.  If you want a more detailed scouting report, Kyle Posey did an excellent job breaking down Erving.  In my opinion, while taking him at 17 may be a bit of a reach, nobody would wind up regretting the decision.  He could replace newly retired Nick Hardwick at C for the next 10 years.

This is my favorite gif of all three of them in action. Tre Jackson (54) at RG makes a decent effort selling his initial block then shows great hustle swinging out and a killer instinct throwing that last block. Erving (75) C shows very good athleticism getting out in front of the screen and makes a very effective downfield block pushing the guy a solid 7 yards back before the defender falls.  Josue Matias, like Jackson, makes a good initial block, then peels off and shows great athleticism running ahead of the play and causing a defender to start moving the other way rather than take on the block.

Tre Jackson - OG - 6'4" 323lbs FSU

Tre Jackson is a very good all around OG.  Not only does he get very good push in the run game, but he is not a liability in pass protection.  My biggest complaint this season with our OG's was that they would get tunnel vision, locking onto one rusher, often missing delayed blitzes and stunting or twisting linemen.  Tre keeps his head on a swivel and is very good at passing off a rusher to the center or tackle and sliding quickly to cut off that late rusher.  He does get pushed back a yard or two when bull rushed, but quickly regains his base and stops the advance.  He will likely go in round 2 or 3, 1 or 2 early mocks I've seen have him slipping into the 4th or 5th which make him a big steal IMO.

All three of them make good blocks here.  Jackson handles his man 1 on 1 and Erving provides good help to Matias.  They hold these blocks for a hair under 5 seconds before Jamies Winston decides to run past them, which they will not be asked to do at the NFL level much at all as the passes will come out much quicker.

Josue Matias - OG - 6'6" 323

Matias has almost the same notes as Jackson for me with 2 main differences.  The biggest difference is that Matias handles the bull rush better and does not get moved back when he doesn't want to be.  The other difference was that he is a little more inconsistent in pass protection.  Matias has pretty good athleticism for his size and gives great effort swinging out on screens.  Opinion on where he will go seems to flip flip based on who you ask.  Some have him ranked above Jackson, some have him below.  Personally I like Jackson just a little bit more.  I would take Matias in the 3rd if there wasn't a C left that I thought I could start and Jackson was gone already, but I would be more comfortable grabbing him in the 4th.

Other Guards

Outside of the big guys from FSU there are a few names I like that, in my opinion, could come in and start.

Laken Tomlinson - OG - 6'3" 323lbs Duke

Tomlinson is a name I have seen thrown out as a top OG prospect in this class going back to the beginning of the season.  He is a punishing run blocker who has made good improvements as a pass blocker.  He did very well at the senior bowl and had positive reviews from every report I saw.  Tomlinson also measured in well with 33 1/2 inch arms and big 10 1/4 inch hands.  I didn't see a great punch in his pass protection, but he doesn't lean or reach too far so he doesn't lose many hand battles or get pulled off balance.  If he improves that punch, he will be a quite effective pass blocker.  One thing many Charger fans would like about him is his durability, putting together 52 consecutive starts in college.  Right now he is projecting mostly in the round 2-3 range.

There are two other guards that round out the most popular day 2 names that I'm not as big of a fan of as a lot of the "experts." AJ Cann from South Carolina and Arie Kouandjio.  Cann is a good run blocker but I hate his feet in the pass game.  He has a lot of problems with speed, and has a hard time with late and stunting/twisting rushers.  Kouandijo definitely isn't a bad guard, but watching his tape I just didn't see anything that made me go "man I want to see this guy in lightening bolts."

Other Centers

Outside of Erving, you really need to make a decision on what is the most important trait in a center for you.  You have good technicians that have a little athleticism but do not have the strength to handle the bull rush from bigger NT's or get good push in short yardage situations in Hronnis Grassu and Reese Dismukes.  You have strong, nasty maulers like Max Garcia from Florida, Andy Gallik from Boston College, or BJ Finney from Kansas State that are limited athletically and may not fit in a zone blocking scheme well.

My take

For me it all boils down to what the team would like to do with Watt. If they want to keep him at C then they should grab an OT early and one of these OG's on day 2.  If they like Watt better back at OG, I think you have to grab Erving in the 1st and address OT on day 2 or early day 3.

Also, we all need to keep in mind, all of this could change depending on Free Agency.  Can we sign a starting lineman at C, RT, or OG? Do we lose King Dunlap?  We will all find out in the next few weeks.

If you missed the first two articles, look here and here.