It is time for the Los Angeles Chargers to make the playoffs. With the right approach to the NFL Draft, the Chargers can end a four-year postseason drought and give Philip Rivers one last run to cement his Hall of Fame resume.
Los Angeles cannot afford to be flashy if the playoffs are the end goal. Snagging Baker Mayfield or another big name receiver will not move the needle. A nose tackle that can improve the 31st ranked run defense, for example, might get the Chargers into the postseason.
Plus, Rivers has a few years left in the tank. The offensive line allowed the least amount of sacks in the NFL and Rivers was tremendous down the stretch. Despite early season struggles, Rivers had arguably his best campaign since 2013, the last time Los Angeles made the playoffs.
While finding a replacement to Rivers may speed up a rebuild down the road, why waste a pick if the team is so close to the playoffs?
Rivers had his lowest interception total since 2009 and added 28 touchdowns to boot. The veteran has plenty of weapons to target as well. Hunter Henry will continue to develop into an elite tight end and when healthy, Keenan Allen is a top-five receiver.
Although it was a down year for Tyrell Williams, the former undrafted free agent is learning on the fly, if he finds his footing in year three that would be a huge win for the offense. Last year’s first-round pick Mike Williams should be available and even a handful of catches will be a boost in production for him.
The Chargers also aren’t in a position to take a stud quarterback. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are locked in as top five picks. Los Angeles will need to trade multiple picks and another player to snag a top quarterback.
Our Louis Gorini broke down the price tag if the Chargers decided to move up. Los Angeles would pick a player for the future, and destroy it all with one trade.
What is the point of picking a quarterback if you cannot build around him until the early 2020’s?
While LA could get a head start on the future without Rivers, 2018 is not the year to do it. The AFC West is wide open and the Chargers need to take advantage.
The Denver Broncos are without a QB, the Oakland Raiders who disappointed in 2017 are a mystery after the unexpected John Gruden hire. While the Kansas City Chiefs may take the risk and move on from Alex Smith in favor of the gunslinger Patrick Mahomes.
Last season, the Chargers formed an identity. Which helped them finally break through and win a handful of games against division rivals.
Through Gus Bradley’s defense, Los Angeles finally had something to hang their hat on. Still, that defense was a few steps from being mentioned among the league’s best.
Even with the elite tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside, offenses soon realized that the Chargers couldn’t stop the run. The number one priority for Tom Telesco’s defense
The Chargers linebacking corps was awful in 2017. The group couldn’t recover from the loss of Denzel Perryman and teams took advantage of the hole in the second level of the defense. In the same fashion, LA’s interior defensive line didn’t gain momentum last season. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane showed his age and Corey Liuget continued to prove why his 5-year, $50 million contract was a mistake.
It is paramount for the Chargers to focus on their front seven come the Draft. With a few more pieces, they can matchup with Jacksonville, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, who all had successful playoff runs due to their tremendous defensive units.
Although the Chargers offense typically isn’t a concern, the lack of a solid running game hindered them all season. Most pundits assumed Los Angeles would boast one of the best rushing attacks in the league. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Melvin Gordon didn’t have a breakout year and although the Bolts were fantastic when protecting Rivers, they couldn’t open up holes for Gordon.
Gordon has been a hot topic for Chargers fans since he was drafted. After having a brutal rookie year he bounced back in 2016. It’s clear that 2017 was at best a lateral move for Gordon.
Still under his rookie contract, Gordon has one more year to prove that he is the feature back that head coach Anthony Lynn is looking for. This is the perfect time to create the perfect environment for the young back.
Russell Okung, Dan Feeney, and the return of Forrest Lamp lock in three of the five positions along the front. In all likelihood, Los Angeles needs to address right tackle and center. Using a day one, or day two pick could go a long way towards solidifying the offensive line.
With the right bodies up front, Lynn can implement his scheme that led his Buffalo team to become the best ground attack in football.
The foundation is there for a successful season. Franchise pieces litter both the offense and defense
Approaching the 2018 Draft correctly could propel the Chargers into the postseason. This is not the time to take a skill position player or Rivers’ backup quarterback, this is the year to round out the roster and allow the franchise quarterback one last run before he heads into the sunset.