Oct 13, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooner tackle Lane Johnson (69) in action against Texas Longhorns defensive end Alex Okafor (80) during the red river rivalry at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
With the NFL Draft a few days away, the generalized logic seems to be the chargers want and need a Left Tackle from this draft. How much impact does a Left Tackle have on a offense? Well, all I can tell you is that the last time we saw an elite Philip Rivers, and a damn close to elite Ryan Mathews was when Jared Gaither made his salary push in the final 5 games of the 2011 season:
Philip Rivers averaged for that 5 game period:282.6 yards per game2.2 TD pases per game0.6 Interceptions per game(Rivers would go over 100 Rating in 4 of the 5 games)
Ryan Mathews last 5 games of 2013:18.4 carries per game102.2 yards per game0.6 TD’s per game
As for the Chargers offense, it averaged 31.4 points, 408.8 yards per game for that period. Is it a small sample size, yes, but it can be understated how much impact it can have on a QB like Rivers, who makes his living in the pocket, to have confidence in his offensive line.
Is Eric Fisher, or more specifically Lane Johnson, as good a player as Jared Gaither on a salary push? Probably not, but they are close and by the time their 2-3 season rolls around they should exceed Gaither at his best playing level.
So where to get a Left Tackle? The odds seems to be dwindling with Oakland, Arizona, Buffalo getting new QB’s in the last couple of weeks. The probability of a second QB to be taken in the top 10 took a major tumble and with that everything seems to point that all 3 elite Left Tackles will be taken by pick 7.
So the big question is, do you trade up for one of the elite 3 left tackles? What is the cost? Well for argument sake I used the draftcountdown.com trade chart:
For pick 4 – 1800 points: pick 11 1250 pts + pick 45 450 pts + 4th rounder 80 pts: 1780 ptsneed to make up 20 points
For pick 6 – 1600 points: pick 11 1250 pts + pick 45 450 pts: 1700 ptsprobably get pick 6 + 4th rounder
Seeing this prohibited cost and seeing 2 disgruntled veteran left tackles in Branden Albert and Rodger Saffold not wanting to move to the 2nd class citizen position of right tackle for their respective clubs, there seems to be a solution that works not only for the Chargers, but also for the Chiefs or Rams.
The Chargers only have about 7 million dollar in salary cap space, so creativity with the signing bonus will be required, and some salary reshuffling with Rivers and Weddle is also an option. But in my view I would get more bang for my buck to take the best player that drops to pick 11 (Ansah or one of the 2 elite guards would be my preference) and package my 2nd round draft pick and something around a 5-7 rounder for one of those veteran Left Tackles. Rather than packaging my first and second round draft pick to secure a left tackle.
What is your take my fellow readers? I appreciate your comments on this my first article for Bolt Beat.