Oct 15, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick (61) gestures before the snap against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
As the Combine and NFL Draft inch their way closer by the week. The time has come to focus on the potential prospects the Chargers may have their eye on.
After some of the worst offensive production that this team has seen in many years, it’s no doubt the chargers need to fix their offensive line FAST!
Heading toward the NFL draft many experts in their mock drafts have the chargers selecting an Offensive Tackle. The two biggest names linked to the team have been Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson.
But is that all that this offensive line needs? Tyrone Green, Rex Hadnot and Louis Vasquez are all unrestricted free agents. I think Vasquez has to be a priority to re-sign, however that leaves the Left Guard position up in the air. Last season the chargers drafted Johnny Troutman. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen how productive he can be. That being said I believe the chargers may have to look for another offensive guard as a priority in this year’s upcoming draft.
Now if we are talking about Offensive guards in this draft. You obviously have to start with Chance Warmack. The 6’2 , 322 pounder brings to the game a combination of size strength and power. In the BCS Title Game, Alabama’s Offensive Line owned the line of scrimmage against Notre Dame and Warmack had a very big role to play in that victory. Unfortunately, I think at the #11 spot in the draft it would be to early to covet an Offensive Guard and Tackle still seems like the consensus #1 priority. So Warmack will probably not be an option.
Moving down the ladder is Jonathan Cooper out of North Carolina. At 6’3, 310 pounds, he as all the attributes of athleticism, strength and power to become an immediate starter. Cooper was just recently projected as the selection for the Chargers in Mel Kiper’s mock draft 2.0 released today. But……..Like Chance Warmack, I just don’t see us selecting a guard at pick #11.
So if an Offensive Guard is not the choice for out first pick, then the more realistic options would be to take one with our second or third round selection….
In the second round, there are two Guards that stand out and may be on the rise after the combine. First, Barrett Jones, another Offensive Lineman out of Alabama (I think if we took any lineman from Alabama we would be happy!) The reason I’m very high on Jones as our second selection is because of his versatility. In his tenure at Alabama, Jones played Left Tackle, Guard and Center! Traditionally, players who can be plugged in at multiple positions are the type of prospects the Chargers tend to covet. Depending on how the draft falls Jones should be available as a solid second round pick.
Staying in the second round, we have Travis Frederick out of Wisconsin. The fact that he played ball in Wisconsin is already going to tell you that this boy is tough! In the last Thirteen years Wisconsin has seen 14 of their offensive lineman drafted to the NFL. That’s the most in the Country, during that time span! Nine of those 14 were selected within the top 100 picks. Standing 6’4 and 338lbs, he is a good strong blocker who gets to the second level with quick feet and great technique. I would be surprised if he is not taken within the first 75 picks.
Finally, these last two individuals I consider interesting prospects to the chargers because of the specific schemes where they play their best. As we all know the Chargers released our long time offensive line coach Hal Hunter and replaced him with former Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. There has been speculation that the hire of D’Alessandris will bring the “zone blocking scheme” to our offensive line. If that turns out to be true, the chargers may want to target smaller offensive linemen. Khaled Holmes out of USC and Brian Winters fit best in zone scheme and could be value selections for the chargers in rounds 3-4.
Written by Jake Hefner