We at Bolts From The Blue have been putting on our live draft show for six years now. It all started in 2017, the year I actually began writing for the site as a wide-eyed kid fresh out of college who definitely was not interested in getting a suit-and-tie job inside some stuffy office.
That first draft show may have lacked the polish and shine of recent draft shows, but it still managed to be one of the most memorable moments of my time with the site. That’s because — against all odds — the Chargers landed Forrest friggin’ Lamp, one of the elite offensive line prospects that year, at the top of the second round. It was a miraculous moment that had every one of us on the show jumping for joy and hollering at the top of our lungs. It’s a moment we still look back on this day to rouse up nostalgia and good vibes.
However, the warm fuzzies surrounding that moment unfortunately start, and end, pretty much right there.
With the big day right around the corner, it wouldn’t be a true draft season without reminiscing and looking back on some of the worst takes and opinions we’ve all had at least once while covering this annual event. Whether it has involved a player the Chargers actually drafted, or simply another player you called a “can’t miss” prospect who lasted all but two seasons in the pros, we’ve all been there.
So with that in mind, we just HAD to look back on Lamp and his incredibly-frustrating four years with the Chargers that left so many fans yearning and obsessing over “what could have been.”
For starters, if you’re anyone who has been around BFTB long enough, you are well-acquainted with how over-the-moon I was with Lamp during the draft process and especially post-selection. He was going to be the cornerstone piece with which the Chargers would build their offensive line around to fix one of their biggest weaknesses over the previous five years or so. As an All-American from Western Kentucky who put on a CLINIC against Alabama during his senior year, you just knew this guy had “it” and you couldn’t wait to see him on the NFL stage.
Heading into training camp, Lamp had been working with the first team and looked like he was going to earn the starting left guard job. The first few days of camp were smooth. Nothing of note happened and that’s usually what teams wants early on.
But then...it happened. I still remember exactly where I was the moment I found out the horrific news.
I was just walking to the bench following a Crossfit class. My body ached and screamed at me for slamming it into the ground repeatedly for whatever that day’s workout was. Despite my current physical state, I still wouldn’t find out what true pain was until I received that fateful notification.
“Chargers second-round pick Forrest Lamp tore his ACL...”
Heart, meet floor.
The world around me just froze. Everything simply came to a halt. I may have stopped breathing entirely. The whole moment seemed to last an eternity.
“...tore his ACL...”
“...will miss 2017 season...”
Those headlines bashed into my psyche over and over again but my brain wasn’t letting them sink in. It refused. I refused. But reality doesn’t change simply because one doesn’t want to accept it.
As reported, Lamp went on to miss the entire 2017 season. Dan Feeney, the team’s third-round pick that season, went on to start most of the year at left guard. He would end up turning that into his job, holding that spot through the 2019 season.
In his first season back on the field, Lamp didn’t earn a starting spot. He saw time in just two games while the Chargers enjoyed one of their best seasons of the past decade. In 2019, due to injuries elsewhere, Lamp earned the first two starts of his career. That glimmer of hope was also obliterated with haste as Lamp went on to break his ankle in that second start, effectively ending his season once again.
It wasn’t until Lamp’s fourth season in the NFL, over three years later, that we finally got to see him on the field for a prolonged period of time. Those three seasons may have flown by for some, but for others (me) it might as well have been a decade.
After earning the starting left guard spot following Feeney’s transition to center, Lamp would go on to start each of the Chargers’ 16 regular season games. In an even more miraculous set of event, Lamp didn’t miss a single snap on offense. Not one. He played every snap of every game during the 2020 season. You want to talk about a miracle? This was pretty dang close.
Forrest Lamp week 10:— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) November 17, 2020
36 pass blocking snaps
0 pressures allowed
88.8 pass blocking grade (2nd, also highest of his career) pic.twitter.com/IbaB4NvXYY
While that season finally showed us the Lamp we should have expected those few years earlier, he was now set to be a free agent following the 2020 campaign and the Chargers had just gotten rid of Anthony Lynn as their head coach. The writing was essentially on the wall for Lamp’s future with the team.
Fast forward to now and we know exactly how last offseason panned out. Lamp, Feeney, and several others were not re-signed as Brandon Staley revamped the entire offensive line in one go.
Lamp wound up getting signed by the Buffalo Bills which was a great landing spot for a young offensive lineman looking to revitalize his career with one of the best offenses in the league. But lo and behold, that unfortunate injury luck surrounding Lamp struck once again as he didn’t even make it to the regular season before he was place on injured reserve. Two days later, he was released.
He’d eventually land on the Saints practice squad roughly two months later which is where he’d stay throughout the remainder of the season. In March, Lamp re-signed with New Orleans and that’s where we are today. Five years into his NFL career, Lamp is on his third NFL team and has just one healthy seasons to his name. That’s just so far away from where we expected him to be at this point way back on that memorable Thursday in 2017.
So, if you are still with me after that lengthy and depressing trip down memory lane, then congratulations! We’re all in this miserable boat together.
I loved Lamp. You loved Lamp. We all loved Lamp so much. It’s just incredibly unfortunate that destiny — that cruel, cruel mistress — did not feel the same way.