Well, BoltFam, I know this is a delicate topic we´re discussing here and we´re all not too amused about the current situation at this specific position. So, making empty promises or predictions isn´t the most accurate thing to do by any writer or fan at this point. But although Tom Telesco did not upgrade the left tackle position in this year´s draft, it wouldn´t be fair to say he didn´t do anything to address this spot on the O-Line. So maybe there´s a germ of truth behind my headline.
Before I get to the main part of this piece right here, I want to point out that I think it´s a good decision by the Chargers to pursue the 31-year old free agent Max Starks. As we already know, he started all 16 games at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. He also won two championships with the team, one as starting left tackle and one as starting right tackle. What´s also nice to know, is that last year he wasn´t even a $900,000 cap hit for the Steelers; I guess this also means he wouldn´t come in too expensive for the Bolts. There are concerns, that he might not be the right guy for a zone blocking scheme – which new offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris may want to establish in San Diego – but the same can be said about the first round pick D.J. Fluker in my opinion (I know not everyone is with me on that).
The Steelers added former Jacksonville Jaguar Guy Whimper ealier this week for depth purpose. But as he lines up solely as right tackle, this doesn´t exactly help our case. After all, we have to wait and see whether Starks is for real or whether he´s just trying to hammer out a better deal for him with “The Black and Gold” (thank you by the way Bryant McKinnie for showing him that this actually works).
So, now let´s get to the story behind my headline. Max Starks surely would be an option for the short-term only (2013); he can´t be considered as “the” solution at that essential position on the offensive line. So, am I really stating here that we got that “long-term solution” guy already on the roster? Well, before your blood pressure gets too high and you´re trying to get me, let me tell you this: It may be a long shot, but at least I can see Nick Becton, offensive tackle out of Virginia Tech, climbing up the leader the next few years and earning that spot on the left side of the line. Sure, it depends on what Tom Telesco will do in the 2014 NFL draft; will he again spend a first round pick on an offensive tackle? If Ryan Mathews turns out as “not trustable” anymore, then I doubt we´ll gonna see a nasty big man holding up that No. 1 Chargers jersey on draft day again.
Well, whatever – I don´t know when and how it exactly happened, but I somehow got on that UDFA´s bandwagon.
In 2011, Becton was on the field for all 14 games, playing in more than 450 offensive snaps while rotating at left tackle with Andrew Lanier. Last year he was able to get the full-time left tackle job, starting all 13 games and playing in 867 offensive snaps and 59 more on special teams. The 6´5″ and 323 pounds beast has quick feet which allow him to pick up speedy pass-rushers. He also has good vision to see delayed blitzes by linebackers and is decent in the running game too, although he approaches his target too high at times.
Becton has great arm length, ideal for the position, and seems to be very athletic and mobile. These skills may appear to be excellent qualifications for being a huge factor in pass protection and for zone blocking schemes (listen up Joe!). Besides the above mentioned issue, he may have to get more active with his hands and also pure strength and domination at the line are concerns at this point. But the way I see it, these are all weaknesses which can easily be fixed with great coaching over the years. And If I remember correctly, we all think very highly about our new coaching staff…am I right?
So, I see great potential in this young lineman and let´s not forget we got some great history here in San Diego with undrafted free agents – to mention a few: Kris Dielman (4-time Pro-Bowler, 2-time All-Pro), Antonio Gates (8-time Pro-Bowler, 5-time All-Pro), Malcom Floyd, Mike Tolbert, now Danny Woodhead and of course also Danario Alexander (due to injuries to be fair). We also picked up Wes Welker in 2004, but coach Marty Schottenheimer made the “biggest mistake he has ever made” (his words) and cut him before the 2004 season started.
So, I guess we have to wait and see. Maybe I´m just a dreamer, but at least I´m trying to think positive (you gotta give me that…lol).
Thank you for checking out these lines.