Aug. 27, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick prepares to snap the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers O-Line (Plan B: Draft a Guard / Find a Tackle)


by James Fedewa

Tackle or Guard. Tuard or Gackle. Who will San Diego select in the first round?

75% of Chargers fans and Draft Experts have San Diego choosing an offensive tackle or an offensive guard with their first round pick. Obviously, it’s the biggest need in San Diego has to be the offensive line (since releasing Jared Gaither, losing Luis Vasquez and watching Tyronne Green find someone else to let down) . Since money & salary cap are very limited, there is not a lot the Chargers can do with new free agents. So GM Tom Telesco must revamp a bad offensive line and find three new starters and he wants to build through the draft.

Telesco has signed three “under the radar” types of offensive linemen in King Dunlap, Rich Ohrnberger and Chad Rinehart. All three additions seem like “depth” (and better than last season) but maybe one or two can turn into a quality every day starter. Rinehart and Dunlap both have ties with San Diego’s new offensive line coach Joe D’alessandris (“Coach Joe-D”). D’alessandris is an offensive line mastermind specializing in the zone blocking scheme, yet playing within the teams strengths (mixing zone and power blocking). Coach D’ is really going to have to start from scratch in San Diego since the only two starters from last years team are center Nick Hardwick and right tackle Jeremy Clary (both were below average last season, nor experienced in zone blocking). Coach D’s three years prior with the Buffalo Bills produce quality offensive linemen and with later round draft picks. So it’s safe to say San Diego’s biggest free agent offensive lineman (so far) is Coach Joe D’alessandris.

Current NFL draft projections could have the Chargers missing out of the top three left tackle prospects Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. So the most logical thing to do is draft the next best position, a guard: either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. Both prospects look super on game tape and both are very unique with great qualities. But drafting either guard still leaves San Diego with a glaring need at left tackle, and the Chargers need a starter. So drafting a guard in the first round, San Diego would start Cooper or Warmack and still have to look for a starting left tackle with their second or third round pick. .

If Chance Warmack is selected in the first round, he’s a left guard. So Chargers fans can nearly guarantee two rookies starting on the left side of the o-line 2013, which is not necessarily desirable.

Now who will that starting left tackle be?

  • Left Tackle: King Dunlap (or Terron Armstead, Justin Pugh, Kyle Long, Dallas Thomas, Menelik Watson)
  • Left Guard: Chance Warmack, Troutman
  • Center: Hardwick, Molk, Baxter
  • Right Guard: Rinehart, Ohrnberger
  • Right Tackle: Jeromey Clary, Mike Harris

Typically, cohesiveness is the best quality about a starting five offensive line, which takes time, familiarity and practice. Starting two rookies within a starting five is a very large gamble and the odds do not favor rookie duos. Second or third round left tackles usually are very raw, and should not start immediately as rookies. However, even with King Dunlap starting, the offensive line is still an improvement from last year’s M.Harris, T.Green, Hardwick, Rinehart & Clary, especially with the addition of Coach Joe D’alessandris and his blocking scheme.

There are also trade options for a veteran left tackle, but San Diego is very limited within their small salary cap. The left tackle trading block isn’t typically big either. Some names floating around Chargers fans are:

  • Chiefs Branden Albert would cost too much, especially within the division.
  • Rams Rodger Saffold is in his final year of his rookie contract so he’s inexpensive (good for the Rams) but he’ll demand a lot more money in 2014 as a left tackle free agent and the Rams will not resign him (since signing Jake Long in free agency).
  • J’Marcus Webb has been replaced in Chicago. May be available in trade.
  • Doug Free may be on the chopping block in Dallas, and he has left tackle experience.
  • Levi Brown is making left tackle money in Arizona this year. If the decide to draft a left tackle in the draft, cutting Brown could save a lot of money for the Cardinals.
  • 33 year old Bryant McKinnie just won a Super Bowl in Baltimore and is still could be an inexpensive free agent.
  • Demetress Bell is a free agent, with ties with Coach D’. He’s an injury risk, but talented & probably too unreliable.
  • Jason Smith may be worth a shot at training camp fodder, as Coach D’ has a great reputation of making linemen look good.

If San Diego does miss out on blue chippers Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson, it’s not the end of the world for San Diego fans. Good coaching, new schemes, and new looks can fix holes.

Tags: NFL Draft San Diego Chargers

  • tubbs45

    Well, I get the best in the draft concept, but best player and needs to me doesn’t = a guard necessarily. If all of the OTs go there should be so beast-mode D-Line men, specifically Star, Mingo. Or a CB Xavier or maybe Dee (doubtful). It will be very interesting to watch and I do think think Chance and Cooper are going to be game changers on someone’s OL. But we have three guards that I think can start and no real starting left tackle, One real tested starter at CB. Gilcrest, Gatson and Wright have only shown me that we are still looking!

    • jamfed

      I think the draft will be a SOAP OPERA. No ones mock draft will be correct and SD could see ANY of those guys (including Fisher and Milliner). KC could draft ANYBODY. And Jacksonville has a history of ODD selections. You never know… SD’s really needs to focus on offence this draft. Funny how ONE injury (Gaither) can make a whole offence crumble. I have a feeling that Dunlap will be the starter day one…

      • tubbs45

        Totally agree. the chargers got OL bad juju, Mcneil, Dielman, and Gaither, losing vasquez… ouch… Dunlap should be a right tackle, but man he was bad in Philly, but vick did scramble a whole lot more than philip ever will.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

          Thank you tubbs, for acknowledging that Dunlap pretty much was terrible in Philly. They were about ready to chase him out of there.

          • jamfed

            it doesn’t matter what Philly fans think about King Dunlap. They hate everyone. They’d boo their own kid. King Dunlap is a 7th round draft pick, with a BUNCH of starting experience (which is 10 times better than Mike Harris last year). PLUS, Dunlap was hand pick by new O-LIne Coach Joe D’alessandris (who recruited him in high school). Who Knows, he may be perfect within the new zone blocking scheme. LT is a NEED NEED NEED 1st round pick for SD, but Telesco doesn’t have to reach on Lane Johnson to have a successful season.

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            as bad as King Dunlap may be, have to agree that he will be worlds better than what we had last year. he actually did well in pass protection. if he has a qb that stays in one spot, it could help him out as well

  • tubbs45

    And damn we still need to sign Danario…

    • jamfed

      I’m really not concerned with Danario. He had some good games last season, but not a priority. He’s an AJ/Norv guy, so he could go to DC or Cleveland at any time. I hope he stays, but he’ll be VERY cheap. AND if SD does draft a WR, then DX maybe history…

      • tubbs45

        With Brown coming back I have high hope, but Mechum and Royal have shown jack-squat, unless you’re interested in pulled hammies and stone hands. We have a lot of needs and it would be nice to not have to worry as much about WR before the 4th in the draft!

        • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

          Exactly Tubbs.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

        So that is what it’s about –letting the AJ/Norv guys go? Danario stepped up and Rivers has something going with him–this chemistry. Why would we let him walk so Rivers has to acquaint himself with yet another new player?

        He works with Rivers, so why not do it? Because he is AJ’s/Norv’s guy is not a good enough reason to let the guy walk.

        • JoseSD

          They’re not letting him walk, they gave him the original round tender unfortunately he was undrafted so they get nothing back if someone offers him something. Im willing to bet he’s not going anywhere. Cause even if someone offers it the Chargers have the right to match it. Only one RFA has even visited another team and the Patriots made him an offer, that player is Emmanuel Sanders, now the Steelers can choose to match it or let him walk and get compensated. In the last 4 years only 1 RFA has signed with a different team. Its practically a given that teams keep their RFAs. Its not about getting rid of “AJ and Norv’s guys” its about protecting yourself against signing a big contract to a player who has had 5 knee surgeries and is a constant injury risk. Teams have until April 18 to offer DX something, trust me he isn’t going anywhere

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            I feel the same way. This was a win-win for both sides. Another team would have to offer more than the Chargers can match, in which case, he would have been gone anyway. Also, DA gets the money already on the table no matter what, but can still test FA for a nice contract (which isn’t happening, so far). The only thing we have to worry about is another team over-paying for DA, in which case, it is what it is.. because the Chargers shouldn’t pay that much for an injury liability, no matter HOW much chemistry there is between him & Rivers. If DA stays… most genius move of the offseason for TT. If he walks, it’s because he is being overpaid. V-Jax being overpaid is one thing… DA being overpaid is another ball game. The math sounds about right to me. I would be concerned if he were an unrestricted FA.. because that means we wouldn’t have a shot at matching… but he isn’t.

            We’ll just have to see what happens. =]

          • JoseSD

            We’ll find out next week if he stays, but I’m pretty confident no one will risk it with his injury history people seem to forget that the reason he was available is because he couldn’t make it out of training camp without an injury and was cut after the preseason, no one signed him for 9 Weeks, AJ took a shot and it worked out.

        • jamfed

          last year Denario came in day one can caught balls from Rivers, with barely any practice with him. IMO, that was NOT chemistry, that was more of a “HERE YA GO, DO SOMETHING” thang.
          Personally, I don’t lke Denario. He’s only a clone of VJ and M80 but injury prone. I like Vincent Brown more than DX.

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            but why wouldnt you want a clone of Vincent Jackson?

          • boltingindiego

            I think it depends on what kind of a contract dx wants because of his knee situation.

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            well… a clone of VJ on the field is one thing… but there is no way he can get VJ money right now. not till he proves a bunch of things

          • boltingindiego

            to me hes only gone gonna get 1-2 year contracts because of his knees. I’m interested on what he was asking for this off season.

          • jamfed

            If SD keeps him, it’ll be his 1 year restricted free agent “original round” tender. So sub million…

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            and that is a very good deal!

          • boltingindiego

            i was talking about what other teams would have offered him for instance if he was asking for a long term deal or for future seasons because of his knees.

          • jamfed

            Variety! VJ, M80, DX, Gates = 6′ 6″ clones (except ones a bigger TE).

            All football teams need a SPEED GUY, that goes deep (Meachem). A possession guy (M80) that catches 1st downs, Quick & Shifty slot guy (Royal) a safety will follow, and a pass catching TE (Gates). You need a 4 course meal (in wide receivers). This team is set up for success, but if Rivers doesn’t have time to pitch the ball, then it’s gonna fail

            (BTW: I like VJ, but M80+DX = 80% cheaper than VJ )

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            i would rather have a receiving unit of VJ, M80, DX and Gates over M80, Meach, Royal, Gates any day.

          • jamfed

            Well yeah… so would everyone. But VJ didn’t see it that way.
            And don’t forget V.Brown.

          • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

            More like “Man I found a guy that can catch these alley oop’s i throw” I think he is more then a priority. You want people to just not watch, then don’t sign him. He gave us something exciting to watch last year.

          • jamfed

            and the “”Man I found a guy that can catch these alley oop’s i throw” is the reason why Rivers leads the league in interceptions. Rivers needs TIME to drop back, set, and FIRE. He’s been chuck’n duck mode for the last two years (since McNeil and Dielman retired).

            Imagine Rivers throwing to Tevon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson (or MIke Wallace or DeShawn Jackson). If Rivers can throw a pass, with a decent pocket, with a FAST/QUICK WR with juke moves, he’d be amazing! but it all starts up front.

            San Diego’s got to be one of the WORST yards after the catch teams in the NFL. Rivers chucks it, gets creamed, DX catches it, gets tackled immediately.

  • http://twitter.com/BReisinger86 Brandon Reisinger

    I just really think Johnson is a reach, Joeckel and Fisher are the only blue chip OTs imo and it will require trading up to get them and that just does not fit into Telescos build through the draft philosophy. for me it’s Warmack, Cooper, Vaccaro or Austin at the #11 spot or trading down

    • jamfed

      Lane Johnson can be a super star, and I’d be VERY happy with the pick. But he only has ONE year of left tackle experience (EEEK). if SD does draft a guard in the 1st round, you may as well pencil in King Dunlap as the starting left tackle, becuase. you don’t want to start 2 rookies on an o-line.

      I’ll pass on Vaccaro and Austin. #11 is too early for a safety (since SD drafted B.Taylor in the 3rd round last year). Austin will be GOOD, but if he’s there at #11, I’d trade down with someone who wants him more. If SD can trade down, get a good 1st round pick this year, and another 1st round pick NEXT year, i’d DO IT. Telesco could look really good next year, if SD has two first round picks.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

        Quit with the King Dunlap talk. They darn near had a mob running him out of Philly. He was horrible in Philly. There is a ton of video tape all over with Eagles sportscasters ranting about Dunlap.

      • natelew

        Agreed on everything you say except Dunlap. You think drafting a rookie OG beside a rookie LT is a worse idea than a rookie OG and Dunlap? Dunlap should only start if he steps up and surprises everyone enough to unseat clary.

        • jamfed

          On the left side, King Dunlap & Chance Warmack (or Cooper) vs. last years Mike Harris & T.Greene? Thats easy…
          But NO WAY will San Diego start two rookies on the left side of the o-line. The only way SD could start a rookie LT is with Joeckel or Fisher (maybe Lane Johnson).

    • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

      Why would trading up to get who you want go against TT’s “build through the draft” philosophy? You can’t be serious. Now we have rules that we can’t trade up? Build through the draft, but no trades either? That would be preposterous.
      If those are the best guys available and really good for the Chargesr and we need them why would we not trade up? No call for mortgaging the future, but trading up within reason. Constantly, we put ourselves in the position of scrounging. Getting tired of it and excuses. Fix Rivers’ O-line. Is that so difficult for the Chargers to do?

      • Pels04

        With the way youre talking to everyone in here you seem to be forgetting this is all in speculation. I agree with Brandon because to me “building” through the draft doesnt mean using 2 or 3 of your 7 picks to get one player, specially if its the 3rd best tackle in the draft. But only time will tell if we are right.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

          I know this is speculation. And I am responding by asking the question why would this go against TT’s “building through the draft”? The guy posted that it would and I asked why. Maybe I should have said why does he feel this way. And why is that a good idea? That is my question.

          Then move up and go for Joeckel or Fisher. Why is that such a feat and so outrageous to do?

          • jamfed

            Trading up from #11 to #5 will cost San Diego at least their second round pick. If you want to BUILD through the draft, trading away draft picks are your building blocks. IMO a second round pick is a great thing to own, not trade bait… if SD would trade Rivers now, he’d probably be worth a 2nd round pick. That’s how much a 2nd round pick is worth. If SD had the cap space, I’d say trade that 2nd round pick for Brandon Albert.
            This draft is LOADED with talent. SD must use both of their draft picks to get two good players, vs. 1 good player. if anything, SD should trade DOWN to get additional picks, or another first round pick next year..

          • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

            Oh yeah, I forgot. You are in the “Let’s trade Rivers” club.

          • jamfed

            NO NO… I’m a Rivers fan. I want Telesco sets Rivers up to succeed with a proper o-line. If not, then trade him now get a mobile QB that doesn’t require a super left tackle.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

            Why do teams trade up then? That’s right. They all have it wrong. Even the Pats trade up. Come on now.

          • IrishCarBomb

            The pats (and any other team for that matter) trade up when they have extra picks accrued from previous years/trades. A good example of a team that has wiggle room to move up this year is San Francisco or Miami, both have the extra picks to sacrifice a move up. We have NO extra picks and we are BROKE to boot, nothing will change that.

          • Per Ola Öberg

            Its also a thing you use when your a contender (or think you are). “we need that player to improve that chance” mindset,

          • boltingindiego

            Then what should the chargers do you?

          • jamfed

            Why do teams trade up? Because they can… but they sacrifice a lot for one guy. Redskins needed RGIII, and he cost them two first round picks and a second round pick. 3 for 1 (just to move up 6 spots).

            Pats trade back, and trade back plus get next years firsts.
            Just watch the 49ers this year. They have 15 picks (but just traded for Colt McCoy with one or two of them). 15 Draft Picks is CRAZY!

      • http://twitter.com/BReisinger86 Brandon Reisinger

        Exactly what Pels04 said, Building through the draft would not be giving up multiple picks to trade up and get one guy, especially when we have so many other positions that need to be filled out

        • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

          Building through the draft is getting the best possible players through the draft, not sacrificing Rivers’ o-line fix because we would have to move up. Too many restrictions and added criteria to “build through the draft”. Then you fix the other problems through other means, but you pass on a good player that you pretty much need because you would have to move up? Sounds radically restrictive to me. So we can do nothing but move down, the way you guys are talking.

          • boltingindiego

            hes had only 1 year so is he really the bpa if we trade up he could be a bust we don’t know. If we trade up we wouldn’t draft till the 3rd round.

      • http://twitter.com/BReisinger86 Brandon Reisinger

        Trading down would fit that philosophy, but not trading up

  • danishbolt

    If Lane Johnson is gone trade down a few spots and pick up cooper (or Warmack if he’s still there) and then go for a tackle in 2nd round

    Otherwise go for best defensive player, Star,, Jones or a corner.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

      Who will we trade with? What team wants the 11 slot?

      • http://twitter.com/BReisinger86 Brandon Reisinger

        Rams, Vikings, 49ers

        • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

          Are they actually interested?

          • http://twitter.com/BReisinger86 Brandon Reisinger

            Its all speculation at this point, what teams are looking to do in the draft is like a game of chess. They will say and do things just to through people off. i would certainly think there are a handful of teams that would be interested in trading up to the #11 spot though. 49ers stand out the most to me, a team with a ton of draft picks that really has no position with glaring holes that can afford to trade up and get a play maker or two to help them make another super bowl push.

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            i think the 49ers will definitely be looking to trade up because of all the draft picks that they have accumulated. They are ready to deal and get the players that they want. they have the ammo to do so and we want multiple players to fill positions.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

            Hmm. Good point, Ernie. Yeah, they are going to have to trade up and take advantage of all those picks they have.

          • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

            Imagine the 49ers give us the 31st & 34th plus a late 3rd rounder? Just for the fun of it that could be SS Matt Elam & Armstead before we even get to our pick and take Warford or John Jenkins or Manti……..So many crazy possibilities with 3 high value picks instead of 2.

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            it would be awesome

          • jamfed

            I like the VIkings picks better: If Minnesota wanted to trade up for San Diego’s first round draft pick (#11), it would cost them: #23, #25 & #101.

          • boltingindiego

            for this trade it would cost our 11th- 1250 76th- 210 and our 6th rounder- 24= 1484 points

            vikings- 23rd- 760 25th- 720 213th- 7.2= 1487 points

          • boltingindiego

            im interested in what the 49ers will do with all their bundle of picks wished we had their picks.

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            wonder if they would accept all our picks for all of their picks… haha

          • boltingindiego

            lol that would be funny/ awesome.

          • JoseSD

            I wouldn’t trade with the 49ers,, the value of an 11 pick compared to that of the 31st is huge they’d have to give up next years 1st and this years 2nd for it to be worth dropping 20 spots

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            would you take this years first and the 2nd they took from KC, which is pretty close to a first and maybe a 4th?

          • JoseSD

            Make it next years 3rd instead of the 4th and I’d make that deal

          • jamfed

            49ers are super bowl favs. They could be picking LAST in each round.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

            Very good point, Jose.

          • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

            they want your boy Austin, I’d trade him them all day long if we could…..as long as we get 3 of their picks. There going to have to make a trade at some point they still have to many picks to roster spots.

          • http://twitter.com/NativSanDiegan Paul Kokal

            They have no choice; they have to trade up.

          • jamfed

            Come on Steph. I wrote an article about possible trade down suiters, LOL.: http://boltbeat.com/2013/04/04/2013-nfl-draft-san-diego-chargers-trade-down/

            Toss the Bengals in there too. Honestly, I’d LOVE to see Teleco add a 2014 1st round pick too (which are typically worth 1000 points in the draft pick trade value chart).

            No team is going to show there cards right now. Last year was ODD that the Rams did so fast, but the offer was just too good to pass up (Rams / Redskins trade). Some trade scenarios can take WEEKS to set up… and they’re very secret.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lostkiara Stefanie Smith

            You say it, but I brought up as to who would be our trade partner because NFL Network and CBS Sports and a few others think we would have a hard time trading back. They don’t think 11 is a good spot.
            Just because we have Chargers’ fans who are overly optimistic and wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to TT does not mean that is reality. The sports guys think 11 is sort of no man’s land. But I am with Ernie.. 49ers could work, but then Jose says we would have to get some good picks from the 9ers to drop that far down.

          • http://twitter.com/NativSanDiegan Paul Kokal

            The sports” experts” can only speculate; they mostly want to get us excited or riled up so we’ll keep listening to them.

          • http://twitter.com/NativSanDiegan Paul Kokal

            All the action will happen as the draft unfolds; afterwards signing of veteran FA (like Winston). nativesandiegan (my anonymity is now blown)

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            Hahaha… Did someone steal your name or something?

          • http://twitter.com/NativSanDiegan Paul Kokal

            Site won’t’ let me keep using ‘nativesandiegan’. Made me re-register, then wouldn’t let me use nativesandiegan; said it was already taken (yea, by me). I’ve used nativesandiegan since before Ashley Lelie (misspelled) came out from UH. Someone asked me how high I would draft him as I live in Hi. I said rd 4 because of his slight build & injury risk. Guy rattled off his 40 time and said I didn’t know what I was talking about. Turns out he was drafted in 1st but was injury plagued. Don’t know his eventual fate. That’s why I go by what my eyes tell me from watching games. Too bad none of us has the time or opportunity to see many of these guys.
            Nice short answer, yeah? Aloha

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            Hahaha… I love it

  • RussinSactown

    I am really thinking we go after Armstead in the 2nd. Yeah he’s not the big “Oooh Ahhh” pick but I really think he’s gonna come in with a chip on his shoulder. And the guy is an athletic mountain. Warmack and Armstead on the left side would keep Rivers clean all season.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      the most awesome scenario would be if we traded back and one of those guards still fell to us with out pick! NOW THAT WOULD BE SICK!!!

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        I’m with you guys, Armstead in the 2nd…….BPA in the 1st…..maybe Star? I’m very open at this point lol

        • Nate Lew

          Armstead would be great but I don’t with his combine performance that if the top 3 LT go before 11 that he will somehow by there 34 picks later. The concept of trading back to get a Guard we might have got anyway makes me want us to trade back even more now, personally hoping Star and Austin are around for our pick so we can trade.

        • jamfed

          a month ago Armstead was a 3 round grade (same with Watson). Plus, Armstead & Watson should not start at left tackle their first year. Both are too raw.

      • boltingindiego

        cooper would be awesome if we traded back.

      • jamfed

        Then you want the Rams to trade up…for Austin possibly

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          that would be the best scenario for that to happen. i think it would be perfect fit for us

    • blu3ny3llow

      If it wasn’t for his 40 ….would we even know his name?????

      • boltingindiego

        he was a 3rd rounder b4 the combine so yes we would.