Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick (61), guard Chad Rinehart (78) and tackle King Dunlap (77) during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Youth and Change on Chargers Offensive Line

June 2, 2014 – by James Fedewa

One of the San Diego Chargers primary goals this offseason is to get faster, within all position. We saw it in the draft and the Chargers drafted some quick and fast rookies. What generates these results, other than speed itself, is to get younger – youth. The NFL is a game of the young man, and the young tend to flourish and survive longer.

Getting younger and faster is always part in the NFL roster. Younger players can also be cheaper and play longer. Cheaper role players can help NFL teams save their immediate cash to help pay and re-sign their own superstar players, which is correct.  So, high-priced role players can be cut even quicker, which brings up this offseason topic: The San Diego Chargers Offensive Line (who’s the youth and who’s getting better?)

As much Nick Hardwick tenure has propelled himself into the Chargers firm starting center the last ten seasons, Hardwick’s future may end this season for several reasons. Starting with health concerns and multiple concussions, Hardwick’s is due to retire soon. His overall skills might be solid, but in reality he is sub-par and undersized at his position and his best days have been behind him for the last few years. Hardwick’s lack of power, average ability and elder “vet” status seem to be clouded by his upsold leadership and cohesive qualities. Being savvy and smart can only carry “ordinary” for so long, as Hardwick’s game and false praise tenure is easily replaceable and very upgradeable.  Newly drafted, rookie Chis Watt, might be groomed into playing center quicker than anticipated, but Rich Ohrnberger is a very capable (and younger) replacement. The Chargers two current backup centers could already be Hardwick’s replacements.  Hardwick has been a good player over the last ten years, but six years ago was his best year and he has been stagnate.

Most Chargers fans have been excited about cutting guard/tackle Jeromey Clary this season, again (especially with drafting a guard in the 3rd round, Chis Watt). Clary has always been a scapegoat of the team and line by fans, but he has been reliable.  Watt maybe the eventual replacement to Clary at right guard (or Hardwick at center), but cutting Clary now can release some binded up money that might attract an upgrade/available/tradable free agent. Clary did show some much valued versatility last season (at both right guard and tackle positions) but Clary’s versatility is extremely false, as he did not excel (or grade well) at right guard, where he started most of the season.  Versatility should translate into being good (or even average) at two or more positions, but Clary is below average at both positions. Clary is just a guy, not young, not quick or fast or scheme specific. His $4.5 million price tag is disturbing (driven and written by the previous regimen) and Clary’s replacement can be found with youth (and more eagerness).  Will Chargers fans miss Clary when he is gone? Unfortunately, probably not no…

Youth and change are a daily part of the NFL roster, and in the second year under head coach Mike McCoy, GM Tom Telesco and offensive line coach Joe D’alessandris, the Chargers offensive line may evolve, with change again.

Young man’s game, young man’s Chargers offensive line (2014):

  • LT: King Dunlap / Nick Becton
  • LG: Chad Rinehart / Johnny Troutman
  • C: Rich Ohrnberger / Chris Watt
  • RG: Chris Watt / Craig Watts
  • RT: DJ Fluker / Mike Harris

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