Alright, there has been quite a lot talk about the tackle positions in the last few months, especially about the one on the left side of the line. And we´ve got all reason to discuss this topic in depth, as these spots have been the main area of concern last year.
But now that Tom Telesco selected right tackle D.J. Fluker in the first round of the draft and picked up Max Starks days ago in free agency to compete for the left tackle spot, it seems that the above mentioned area of concern shifted from tackle to guard. I don´t want to say that the interior of the offensive line is the weakest spot on the roster, but at least we´re better set up now at tackle than at guard in my opinion.
Let´s take a quick look at the depth chart of the two tackle spots.
Left tackle: Max Starks, King Dunlap, Nick Becton
Right tackle: D.J. Fluker, Mike Harris, Brandyn Dombrowski
Could be worse, right? (re-watch some 2012 games, then you know what I´m talkin about).
Alright, now let´s get to the main part of this piece.
In order to find out if there is reason to be worry about the interior of the line, we´ve got to check out what player personnel the Chargers got on the roster to address these two spots.
As we all know already, there had been multiple reports about Jeromey Clary doing a pretty good job at right guard in the first OTAs this year. I still don´t know what to think about all that praise. There had been a bunch of players out there on the field; but out of all these guys, he´s the one that gets the most (positive) attention. There must be a reason for that, right? Well, even if he did pretty well in those “Organized Team Activities”, we´ve got to consider he´s a $5.7 million cap hit in 2013. Don´t know if a player who did not take one single snap in a game at that position is worth that kind of money. And we all know his footwork had been below average his entire career. But maybe this wouldn’t be that much of an issue in his now role, as he wouldn´t have to move that much at the interior than on the outside of the line.
Whatever, currently it looks like he is considered to be the starter at right guard.
Already on day two of this year´s free agency, General Manager Tom Telesco signed Chad Rinehart from the Buffalo Bills to a one-year $1.75 million deal. The 25-year old mainly was used as right guard in Buffalo but he can play on either side and he has history with the new Chargers´ offensive line coach Joe D´Alessandris; i.e. he knows his system. If healthy, Rinehart can be a reliable force on the offensive line. But exactly that makes me worried about the former Buffalo Bill – is he able to stay healthy for an entire season? He ended the last season on injured reserve and played only seven games due to an ankle injury. Hope that ankle won´t bother him in 2013.
If Clary starts at right guard, then Rinehart might be the starter on the left side.
In 2012, the Bolts used their fifth round draft pick on Johnnie Troutman, but he missed his entire rookie season due to injuries (pectoral muscle and knee issues). The 25-year old said his body is at “100 percent” health now and he´s ready for the season to start. Troutman primarily played on the left side at Penn State but said he’s comfortable at either spot. Couple of weeks ago Tom Telesco mentioned that he liked Troutman coming out of college. “Tom Triumphant” said he´s impressed by the power element the youngster adds to his game while being able to show great short-area athleticism in pass protection.
Many BoltHeads are on Troutman´s bandwagon already and would love to see him starting at left guard. If Chad Rinehart is the guy at right guard, then those fans may get what they are hoping for…if he´s able to stay healthy, of course.
The second addition at guard this free agency had been Rich Ohrnberger. He spent his last season with the Arizona Cardinals, so this means he will reunite with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (Cards´ head coach from 2007 to 2012) and also with Johnnie Troutman, his former teammate at Penn State. The 27-year old was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the New England Patriots and was only active for five games in his two years with the team. He played 13 games with Cardinals last year, but starting only four. His primary position is right guard but he also is capable of playing center. Unfortunately the 6´2″ lineman ended the 2012 season on injured reserve due to a knee injury. So it seems he´s just another injury-prone player at the interior of the O-Line.
Well, these are the names, which currently can be considered as competitors for the starting jobs at right and left guard (although I´m not too sure if Ohrnberger is any “competition” for the other guys at this point).
But there are two more names that have to be added to the depth chart at guard: Steve Schilling, former sixth round pick for the Chargers in 2011 – who was released from the roster in August but re-signed again in December 2012 – and undrafted free agent Randy Richards who played right tackle in college. Based on his size (6`3”, 305 lbs) and his skills he could be used as blocker at the interior of the line. Richards already has experience playing in a zone blocking scheme. If he is able to impress in this year´s training camp, he may has good chances to take on a bigger role in coach Joe D’Alessandris´ future plans.
But of course there some other names floating around that are capable of playing at the two spots next to Nick Hardwick. The Bolts´ seventh round pick of 2012, center David Molk – who is considered as the successor of the above mentioned long-time Charger – took about 10 snaps at guard last year. King Dunlap can also be moved inside, but I don´t know if that´s the right position for a 6´9” giant like him. The backup at right tackle, Brandyn Dombrowski, can play the position too; he already did that in a couple of games over the last years he´s been with the Chargers.
So, BoltFam, now it´s your turn. You are invited to take on the role as General Manager of the San Diego Chargers once again. Are you fine with the interior linemen that are currently on the roster, or are you worried that the only name of the considerable starters at guard, who did not end the 2012 season on injured reserve, is Jeromey Clary? Do you even like the idea of Jeromey Clary being on the roster in 2013? Or do you might prefer to cut Clary and pick up the best free agent guard at this point, the 33-year old Brandon Moore from the New York Jets? But maybe you also want to do nothing at this point and wait a few weeks until hopefully another interesting name becomes a free agent? Feel free to take part in the poll and to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for checking out this piece and sharing your opinion.