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.
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!