This week I thought it'd be interesting to compare the 2015 draft picks to their would-be replacements. That would include Melvin Gordon to Ryan Mathews, Denzel Perryman to Donald Butler, and Craig Mager to Marcus Gilchrist. Before we get there, let's talk about if the Chargers need to do anything else to improve their roster. As it stands, I see two major holes with a couple other ones brewing.
In his 1st year as a starter, Johnnie Troutman showed he's nothing more than a swing guard. Last year, it got worse. So the team can't possibly think it'll get any better next year, right? Not to mention this hinders the growth of D.J. Fluker, who hasn't played next to a competent guard in his 1st two years. The team does have a couple different options.
The roster is full of what you would call swing or backup lineman. Most of these options are purely projections. Do we really believe that Trevor Robinson can play at a replacement level for a full season at center? Which would allow Chris Watt to slide over, where he was really, really good, and play guard? Can you really trust the undrafted free agent from a year ago in Jeremiah Sirles to be any better than Troutman over the course of 17 games? Finally, Chris Hairston hasn't started a game since 2012. Does Joe D'Alessandris roll with someone he's worked with in the past, kick Fluker inside to guard and there's your best 5? I don't know. So much projection with all of this.
Working the Waiver Wire
Perhaps by the time this is posted the news will be out. I hope for his sake that La'el Collins is cleared. If so, the Chargers should pounce on the opportunity. Adding Collins would make this draft an "A" because I would view him as the team's 1st round pick and bump everyone down, I know that's not rational at all, but whatever. Collins would give the team an instant starter at right tackle and future starter at left tackle. Not to mention pure power at every spot and making life easy on Rivers and Gordon in the backfield.
Another option that has been brought up recently, Eagles veteran guard.
— Evan Mathis (@EvanMathis69) May 2, 2015
That was in response to him being on the trade block, and Chip Kelly saying there have been zero takers. Mathis has been 1 of the best players at his position for the past four years. He's 33 and people talk like he is 43. I imagine it's too late to work in a trade but if he is released, the Chargers be 1st in line for his services.
My third and final option is Joe Barksdale. I watched him a little bit during the prime free agency weeks and am curious as to why he hasn't been signed yet. He's been the Rams right tackle for the past three years, is still just 26, and fits the "hammer" theme of the draft.
I would also say he's better at cutting off speed rushers than Fluker, too.
At any rate, I'm expecting Telesco to bring in a veteran. The good thing is he doesn't have to rush. He can let the young guys compete, and if he doesn't like what he sees, he can bring in an experienced player before training camp.
The selection of Darius Philon with the last pick was good in a sense of value and adds another talented player to the rotation. Philon was only a redshirt sophomore and the couple Arkansas alumni I spoke with felt he should've stayed in school another year. The talent is there, but I noticed the same. A year in an NFL weight room should do him wonders. This still leaves Kendall Reyes playing anywhere from 40-60% of the snaps, with Ricardo Mathews and company filling in for the remainder. I think most of us would agree that 40% should be Reyes' peak snap count. So are there options to finally give Corey Liuget some immediate help?
These options are thin. There are two ideal situations. The 1st being Mathews is ready to play double the amount of snaps he was last year and still playing at that high of a level. I thought he was very effective in his limited role. But that's a lot of pressure to put on him, and you won't be able to find out if he's ready for something like that until actual game action.
The other in-house option would be last years 5th round pick Ryan Carrethers is ready to take the next step after his "redshirt" year and play 30-40% of the snaps. Nose tackle is one of the harder positions to transition to in the NFL, so it wasn't fair to expect much of him last year. Now that he has a year under his belt, this would allow Sean Lissemore to slide over to defensive end, and then on passing downs you can get creative with who you want in there. This might be the best option to stop the run, but again, it's all a projection. We don't know if Carrethers is ready for this sort of workload yet. This remains the biggest question mark because if the in-house options aren't ready, the available free agents don't exactly get you excited.
There are a couple former Seahawks in Alan Branch, who was drafted in the same class and round as Eric Weddle, and Kevin Williams, who is 35. Branch has experience playing defensive end in a 3-4, despite being 6'5 331. I don't know how much Williams has left in the tank. But he would still be the best player Liuget has ever been paired with. This likely will again come down to cuts in training camp.
At the end of the day, the Chargers need one of their young guys to step up. Whether it's Reyes in a contract year, Mathews now that he has a year in the system, or Carrethers adjusting to the NFL. Who do you think will take the next step?
I liked the Kyle Emanuel pick more and more now that I've watched him. He's athletic, productive, and has a nice counter to the inside that he sets up well.
I'm a little nervous that Telesco put his eggs in one basket and is assuming that Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu will stay healthy all year. This means thrusting Emanuel into a role he might not be comfortable with. I don't know that there is an edge rusher on the roster that is capable of stepping in and playing heavy snaps. So while the thought of "don't take a pass rusher high because they'll be competing with Jerry or Melvin" somewhat makes sense. The thought of Tourek Williams or Cordarro Law would've scared me enough to spend a pick on a pass rusher earlier. Ingram is in a contract year, so you expect him to play at the highest level. Missing 7 weeks last year, and the 1st 12 weeks the year before is really rolling the dice with his health.
What position needs to be addressed the most, and why?