This is a weird article right? Especially given the success of the L.A. Chargers as of late. I mean the perfect recipe for a Chargers draft article is one part Mike McCoy meltdown, two parts Philip Rivers fourth quarter interception; and add in a splash of a bevy of offensive line injuries and Wa La; you got yourself a good ole fashion draft piece. This is generally the time where the Bolts From the Blue crew start focusing on the upcoming NFL Draft because L.A. is already eliminated from playoff contention.
However, things are different this year. Somehow the Chargers are miraculously tied for first place in the vaunted AFC West, this late in the season, with a rookie head coach, and all during the first year in a new city. So what makes me want to write a piece like this if all is well in La La Land? Mainly because even though the Chargers are playing good football; they are an extremely flawed team that have many holes to fill if they want compete with the big boys of the AFC (Patriots and Steelers).
There are numerous positions Los Angeles could address in the NFL Draft if they want to improve. The first round is usually where the Chargers target their biggest needs. Here are some positions L.A.’s GM, Tom Telesco, can target in the first round of the 2018 draft.
The Chargers are facing a quandary in the next year or so. On one hand, the team is led by their beloved leader (Rivers), who has remained efficient and has consistently put his team in a position to win. On the other hand, the aging Philip Rivers has shown signs of regression and there is simply no contingency plan on the current roster.
In order for Los Angeles to avoid the same fate of the New York Giants and Eli Manning, the Chargers could look to select a quarterback in the first round of next years draft for them to groom after Rivers departure. Anthony Lynn has already publically eluded to the fact that he believes mobile quarterbacks are the future. And in case you haven’t realized, Rivers exactly isn’t Michael Vick. With the 2018 NFL Draft being loaded at the quarterback position, it would still be feasible for the Chargers to find a signal caller of the future given their mid to late draft slot. I would find it hard to believe that Anthony Lynn won’t take a long hard look at the quarterbacks in the first round to replace his “long in the tooth” quarterback.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
You know we weren’t going to discuss a first round Chargers draft selection without bringing up the safety position. Every year draft pundits attempt to make the same argument about how much the Chargers miss Eric Weddle and then proceed to slot a safety to them not realizing Tom Telesco does not value the position. However, this might be the first year they are correct.
Tre Boston has been a decent, low risk signing for the Bolts. Boston has been good in coverage for L.A., but horrendous against the run. That being said, I can still see the Chargers resigning Boston in the off season because the amount of field he covers. So why would they select a safety in round one you may ask? The Chargers have been predominately in nickel and dime coverages where they use 3 safeties to defend the pass. Currently, Adrian Phillips is being used as a linebacker in Gus Bradley’s system. Los Angeles can certainly find a more athletic and bigger upgrade over Phillips in round one who they can pair up with both Boston and Addae and not be such a liabilty against the run as Phillips has been. The need might not be huge for L.A. but the value could be to great for the Chargers to pass up to find their next Eric Weddle.
Derwin James, Florida State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
The Chargers rank near the bottom of the league on defense in stopping the run. Remember when I stated above how Los Angeles is mostly in nickel and dime defenses? It helps them stop the pass, but it has also effected their ability to stop the run. However, that is not the only reason why the Bolts have been unable to stuff the run. The play of their interior defensive line has been less than optimal to say the least.
Corey Liuget was signed to be a disruptive force for the Chargers and hasn’t lived up to his bloated contract. Brandon Mebane, L.A.’s other defensive tackle, has regressed this year and will be 33 years old to start the 2018 NFL season. It is plausible to think, the Chargers could look to move on from both of their defensive tackles and would need to replace two starters a long their defensive line.
Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Vita Vea, Washington
Lowell Lotulelei, Utah
The offensive line play has improved dramatically for the Chargers this year. Rivers has plenty of time to decipher his progressions thanks to the additions of Russell Okung and Dan Feeney. The unit will only get stronger next year when they get rookie guard Forrest Lamp back from injury.
The one area of concern Anthony Lynn has with this unit is their ability to create running lanes for his running backs. Spencer Pulley and Kenny Wiggins have gotten blown up/stood up by better defensive tackles regularly and also have trouble consistently getting to the second level. Barksdale has had difficulties staying on the field and has been a complete liability in the running game.
It would be prudent of L.A. to find another addition to solidify the offensive line. Selecting a top offensive lineman in the draft could help improve the right side of the line while providing insurance for an aging Okung in case he goes down with an injury.
Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Connor Williams, Texas
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
There you have it Chargers fans. Those are most likely the positions Los Angeles could target in the first round of next years draft. I personally think it is paramount for the Chargers to address the future of the quarterback position being that it is the most important position on the field. Rivers is playing well but I don’t know how much more he can be trusted. What say you Bolts Nation? Do the Chargers need to draft a QB round 1? Or should is their another weakness you would like to see them address instead. Sound off!