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Another Look At the Chargers Left Tackle Situation

Oct 28, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tackle King Dunlap (65) blocks Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann (71) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Falcons defeated the Eagles 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Telesco found a long-term solution at Rivers’ not so blind side in D.J. Fluker, but couldn’t pull the trigger on the greatest need of the team, the Left Tackle. I will say this, and I hope everyone else understands that it wasn’t Telesco’s fault when the top three tackles were selected in the first four picks. With the best three left tackles gone and the best two guards gone by the 11th selection, he made the best possible choice, we need to protect our quarterback regardless of where it is on the offensive line and therefore solidified the right tackle position for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this year I made a prediction about Jeromey Clary converting to offensive guard which has been a spoken possibility. Center Nick Hardwick will definitely enjoy the presence of a familiar veteran lineman to help support the starting line-up. If Clary can prove to be the best option at guard and if my other prediction of Johnnie Troutman stepping into his sophomore year and making a huge impact materializes, then we are set with a trio of starting interior lineman. Throw in first-round draft pick, Fluker locking down the right tackle spot; we only need one last piece to the puzzle.

We’re close, very close, whether you like to believe it or not, unfortunately the most important guy on the offensive line is still a mystery. After the Bryant McKinnie debacle we are back at square one, settling with the current roster of King Dunlap, Kevin Haslam, Mike Harris, Brandyn Dombrowski and an undrafted Nick Becton. If Max Stark isn’t the direction we want to go in and a decent trade for the right guy isn’t in the cards we may have to settle with what we got!

King Dunlap – Eagles fans are probably laughing at the “kick me” sign on our backs. Last season, Dunlap started 12 games, converting seven penalties for 70 yards, five holding calls and allowed six sacks. Not considerably bad, but this may have upset the Eagles fans when they were so used to Jason Peters who in 2011 only allowed, six penalties for 35 yards, zero holding calls yet, five false starts, but only allowed 2.5 sacks. King Dunlap isn’t incredibly bad but he had it tough being asked to fill in for a beloved Eagle in Peters.

Dec 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers guard Rex Hadnot (center) talks with tackle Michael Harris (79) and tackle Kevin Haslam (70) and guard Tyronne Green (69) during the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders while reflected in a puddle at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Haslam – Haslam started three games last season rotating out with Harris. Haslam did a decent job and some experts are projecting him to compete with the King at starting left tackle. What doesn’t sit well is that Haslam has been on three teams in three seasons. This undrafted free agent out of Rutgers in 2010 was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars and played in five games before going on Injured-Reserve. Next, Haslam started training camp in 2012 with the Oakland Raiders, before landing on the Chargers practice squad then to the starting lineup.

Mike Harris – Started nine games as a rookie for the Chargers. While at UCLA, Harris recorded 42 starts at “right tackle.” Yes, right tackle! In college Harris was voted the most improved offensive player two years in a row, at, you guessed it, right tackle! In the NFL, Harris allowed 10 sacks and 44 quarterback pressures, which are not good stats. Harris was a right tackle in college where he played decently, that definitely should not have been a transition to left tackle in the NFL. Did Mike Harris play admirably when asked? Yes he did, but he was unfairly asked to fill in for Big Lazy at a position he wasn’t prepared for.

Brandyn Dombrowski – With the exception of last season, Dombrowski has stepped in as versatile filler for the Chargers for 47 games including 15 starts (at guard and tackle). During Marcus McNeil’s holdout, Dombrowski filled in for eight starts. Of the 15 starts Dombrowski has slatted, he was accredited for 12.5 sacks. Believe it or not, he’s done a pretty good job over time and has the experience. Dombrowski, originally a practice squad player made his way up to the team and occasionally picked up a startingrole for his versatility, good work ethic and ability to fight for position against defenses. I like Dombrowski and here’s why, last season he did everything he could to get back to full health to help his team, all in all, he’s a determined Charger! You have to respect that!

Nick Becton – An undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech and an actual left tackle, he was typically graded highly in each of his college games. The upside of Becton is his great awareness for pass rushers and body movement. Downside is that he can approach his targets standing a bit high at times and needs to have better arm extension while run blocking. He was expected to be drafted late at round 6 or 7 but fell to us as a free agent. The Chargers have had luck finding good, sometimes great undrafted players (such as Antonio Gates and Kris Dielman), could Becton be the next?

Bill Williamson of ESPN stated the Chargers might be in the worse left tackle position in the NFL. If Williamson is right, it’s time for one of these big men to step up big time and prove otherwise. The expectation is for the King to start at left tackle at least for the upcoming season before the likes of Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewans and James Hurst hit the draft next year. Hopefully these three men are still on the board by pick 4, unless of course we’re pick 4!

Topics: San Diego Chargers

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  • http://twitter.com/SidKlum Sid Klum

    Nice article, but no more Clary. He has been the worst player on the O-Line for years. You forgot to mention how many sacks he gave up. Bet it was more than 10. Clary is Rivers friend but he needs to go. Troutman and Rinehart will be the starting guards. Chargers will cut Clary and save a couple $MIL on dead weight. Dombrowski looked terrible last year and will also probably be cut too.

    • tubbs45

      Not a fan of clary at all. Dombrowski didn’t even play last year went on IR with that foot cyst… There are more RT on the market, but I just dont understand not bringing in Starks…. Options TT (better options)

  • Pels04

    Ah what a freaking headache……

  • RussinSactown

    King, Becton and Haslam train and battle it out at left. Maybe we do it by committee for a while but it’s not impossible. Harris backs up Fluker at right

    • http://www.signonsandiego.com/ Ambitoos

      When teams start cutting down, somebody will be available with the new draftees coming in. Hopefully.

  • shayaaa

    Cutting Clary would save a $2.3M from what I have read. He would have to be playing ridiculously well at the guard position to justify that kind of salary.

    I think Dombro is just awful. I know he may not be that bad statistically but I cringe every time he’s on the field.

    The most surprising player to me last year was Haslam. I think everytime he was in, our line did better. I’m not sure what his numbers were (sacks, pressures, etc.) but he looked like our third best lineman behind Vasquez and Hardwick.

    • MC Boltman

      Yeah right, they´d save $2.3 million – He is set to be a $5.7 million cap hit in 2013. My guess is not a single BoltHead would miss Clary :)

  • Sergio Quintero

    Joe D’ made Cordy Glenn into a respectable LT, and took the bills from the worst Oline in the NFL to a top 10 line. Hope he enjoys challenge he’s got another one here.

    PFF really is a big admirer of Dunlap scoring him the 15th best pass blocking OT in the NFL for 2012, but hearing the Eagles fans he’s no better than Mike Harris, what is the truth?, probably somewhere in between, and still a major upgrade over the historically bad and overmatched Harris.

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

      Hi, Sergio. Can you post a PFF link as to the list that puts Dunlap as the 15th best pass blocking OT? I am over there and cannot find him listed on any list. I did find Clary and Harris on the worse OT list, though.
      Thanks. 15th is awful high and close to Clady and Long who are in the top 5 on average. So Dunlap is a few slots down?

    • jonpviv

      historically bad? In one season?

  • tubbs45

    Jonah, good read and review of the situation. I like the versatility Dombrowski offers in terms of depth. Clary moving to guard, we’ll see how that works out. he certainly would be more insulated and not required to quite as much as at tackle. I really like Troutman and think he will be an excellent left guard!!!
    The notion of going to Zone blocking should be interesting… Maybe Becton will work out, fingers crossed. What the hell is up with Starks, maybe there is a reason everyone has no interest in him, but I dont get it.

    • Gunnar Martin

      Starks is humungous and not agile. If there are any hopes left to convert to a zone-blocking scheme, his signing would completely diminish them. He is solid otherwise though, and at the least pretty reliable (in a man-blocking scheme that is).

      Really hope Becton turns out to be a diamond in the rough!

  • MC Boltman

    Cool article bro! Great research! Nick Becton seems to be a very interesting guy – not for 2013 of course…but who knows what will happen as time goes on…

    • Gunnar Martin

      Yeah I really like the idea of keeping Becton on the roster as a project for our O-line, whether it be at left tackle or guard. His footwork is very impressive, especially for an undrafted free agent. Hopefully he can get his technique coached up and he can become a reliable backup that can come in at a moment’s notice.

  • Ioane

    Bill Williamson also said that Dunlap did not play bad last year. I think the Eagles as a whole was terrible last year.

    Dunlap might turn out to be better than expected reuniting with coach Joe-D and getting a fresh start.

    I would reach out to Demetress Bell just so we could add him to the competition.

  • geigage

    Considering what happened to this team at left tackle last season, I look forward to King Dunlap coming in and possibly being our starter. Is the guy a great player? in some games he is, in others not so much. The key here is that the guy is getting a fresh start in a city with a brand new coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball. IS it coincidence that certain coaches are able to make mediocre players look like great players? Look at the Patriots, Bill Belichick, the guy constantly turns players careers around and takes his team to the playoffs year after year. I think that Mike McCoy seems to be on the right track in maximizing his players potential, look at what he did in Denver as OC. This new group of brass in the organization is going to change our culture just like the patriots. I hate the patriots but reality is, they kill it almost every year.

  • Ioane

    @RapSheet: Veteran OT Max Starks is visiting the #Chargers today, I’m told. Still looking for a tackle after Bryant McKinnie went back to Baltimore

  • jonpviv

    Let us hope Fluker’s attitude rubs off on the entire offensive line…..

  • sanford peisner

    I am saying prayers. Someone needs to step up. I hope Becton surprises everyone.

  • Dion Chin

    I can’t stand Clary or Dumbroski. I would definitely rather have Troutman and Ohrnberger as our guards.

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