The Los Angeles are coming off a second straight losing season and find themselves with their 2nd top 10 draft selection in as many years. Teams like that generally find themselves with many holes to fill on their roster, so today we’re asking the question, what is the Chargers biggest need this offseason? Looking at the Chargers roster there appears to be more than one way of answering this question. So, we’ll go over a few of the Chargers major deficiencies and then leave it up to you to decide what is actually the Chargers biggest need. Here we go.
Looking at the Bolts offensive line, it’s pretty clear it needs a major reworking. In fact, it can be argued that every player along the line save Matt Slauson needs to be replaced. Dunlap struggles to stay healthy and has a very troubling history of concussions. After a solid first season with Chargers, right tackle Joe Barksdale struggled this past year in both pass protection and as a run blocker. Orlando Franklin, another former free agent pickup, has never been the player the Chargers thought they were getting when they signed him to a big deal after leaving the Denver Broncos. Finally, DJ Fluker has never been able to live up to his status as a top half first round draft selection.
Replacing four out of five offensive linemen in one offseason is not very reasonable to expect, but the bolts must address this issue in some way. The number 7 pick in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft probably isn’t the most likely nor the best way of doing that, but there are options available. Ronald Leary, Larry Warford, and T.J. Lang are all potential free agents that could provide significant value for the Chargers. Or at the very least an upgrade over the players currently on the roster.
It’s no secret that the Chargers need serious help on the back end of the defense. In fact, it’s so well known that it has inspired the Chargers selection of Ohio St. safety Malik Hooker in almost every mock draft around the internet up to this point. The free agency acquisition of Dwight Lowery last offseason did not pan out, to say the least, while Jahleel Addae struggled through another season that saw him miss a majority of the bolts games due to injury. Injuries aside, Addae is a very inconsistent player who tends to miss more plays than he makes. Nonetheless, there's probably a good chance he is back in a Chargers uniform next season.
Behind Addae and Lowery the Chargers have a few players who’s main roles as of right now should be as special teams contributors and not much more, so they must address the position in some way this offseason. Again, I’m not convinced the first round of the draft would be the best way to do that. I know a lot of people might disagree with me but I believe the most effective way to build a defense is from the inside out, and there appears to be some tremendous value at safety to be had in day two of the draft. Looking at free agency, Tony Jefferson would be the big catch for the Chargers, but he’s likely to come with a hefty price tag after another stellar year in Arizona.
D.J. Swearinger, Jefferson’s teammate on the Cardinals, is another name to watch for. He likely won't demand the amount of money Jefferson will, he would be an upgrade over both Addae and Lowery, and he is only 25 years old.
Outside of Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, the Chargers don’t have a whole lot going on at the corner position. Brandon Flowers had one magical year with the Chargers, but at this point, it would probably be better for both parties if they decided to part ways. Admittedly, I did enjoy watching Trevor Williams and Trovon Reed last season, but I don’t think it would be fair to just thrust either of them into a large role next year.
There are quite a few cornerbacks set to hit free agency this offseason including A.J. Bouye (Texans), Trumaine Johnson (Rams), Stephon Gilmore (Bills), Ross Cockrell (Steelers), and Dre Kirkpatrick (Bengals). Someone that really peaks my interest is Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan. I have my concerns about players coming out of New England, but Ryan is a good player and it’s possible the Chargers could get him on a team friendly deal. Another player I’m a kind of interested in is Stephon Gilmore. The Bills corner has been excellent for most his career, though last year was not a particularly good one for him. If last season were to make teams pause before signing him to a big deal and the Chargers were able to get him at the right price, I’d be okay betting that his one down year was an anomaly. As far as the draft, if the Chargers really want a corner at number 7, Ohio St. CB Marshon Lattimore would be the way to go.
There is a possibility Melvin Ingram will not be back with the Chargers next season, but whether he stays or goes the bolts have to add another piece to their defensive front. With superstar and reigning defensive rookie of the year Joey Bosa already in place, the bolts would be wise to continue building up the defensive line and make the unit one that is truly not to be trifled with. In my own opinion, this is where I believe the Chargers would be best served investing their 7th overall draft pick. A player like Jonathan Allen, Malik McDowell, or Derek Barnett would do wonders for the Chargers defense as a whole.
In free agency some of the names to watch along the D-Line include; Dominique Easley (Rams), Bennie Logan (Eagles), Dontari Poe (Chiefs), and Chris Baker (Redskins). Even after a down year, Poe is likely to be out of the Chargers price range. On the other hand, Bennie Logan brings a lot to the table as a run defender, and at 25 years of age, former Patriots first-round pick Dominique Easley looks to have a ton of upside.
There you have it, folks. What do you think is the Chargers biggest need this offseason?