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What the Chargers Need in the 2017 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackle

Russell Okung takes care of the blind side, but what about the strong side of the line?

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Let’s start reviewing the Los Angeles Chargers position by position and figure out what they need to be looking for in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Up today, the offensive tackles.

The starters: Russell Okung, Joe Barksdale

The backups: Tyreek Burwell, Tyler Johnstone, Chris Hairston, Brett Boyko

What they need: A starting right tackle

The signing of Russell Okung to replace King Dunlap goes a long way toward solidifying the left side of the offensive line (provided that Okung can stay healthy), but the right tackle position remains a significant problem. Joe Barksdale has, at times, been a solid, reliable offensive tackle in the National Football League. That was not the case in 2016 and there is no real reason other than blind optimism to think that he will return to being a legitimate starter.

The backups, Burwell, Johnstone, Hairston, and Boyko, are all varying levels of borderline NFL-caliber players and not one of them should be expected to become a starting offensive tackle in the near future. That’s unfortunate because the near future is rather important for Philip Rivers who only has a few years left as a top-end starting quarterback in the league and somebody needs to block for him.

That means the Chargers either need to draft a tackle (possibly as high as the second round if a Cam Robinson were to slide) or hope that one becomes available after the June cuts (and while Telesco has had good luck with these, it is not a comfortable position to be relying on them). If the Chargers can find a starting tackle in the draft, they will be in a good position because Barksdale while not a quality starting option is a pretty solid swing tackle.