Offensive Line Outlook for 2014


Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick snaps the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Bengals 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2013 season, the Chargers’ offensive line had some really bright spots: the Thursday night win in Denver, the win against the Colts on Monday Night Football. They also some struggles: the playoff game in Denver and the loss to the Redskins after failing to score on the 1. The lack of offense in the AFC Divisional game against the Broncos wasn’t all because Ryan Mathews was injured. The offensive line didn’t help either. But on the brighter side, the o-line showed that when healthy, and in-sync, they can bull over anyone and open lanes for the run game. With the recent acquisition of Donald Brown and the big year Mathews had, the offensive line will play a vital role in how the Chargers fare as a team. If we learned anything in 2013, it is that no matter how well Philip Rivers plays, without a decent running attack, the Chargers will continue to finish in the middle of the pack in the final standings. We learned that while watching Mathews run rampant in most of San Diego’s wins and him either being hurt or shut down in their losses.

During this offseason, the Chargers have done well in fortifying the offensive front, retaining center Nick Hardwick and re-signing guard Chad Rinehart. It still remains to be seen if Rich Ohrnberger will return or sign elsewhere. He performed wonderfully in the brief absence of Hardwick. Tackles D.J. Fluker and King Dunlap impressed and will build off their solid first years in San Diego. The interior seems to be the biggest concern on the line. Rinehart is probably the best guard on the roster at this point. The Chargers may want to think about drafting or signing an interior lineman, not only on the defensive side, but also on the offensive line as well. Someone who can play either guard spot and solidify the inside. Jeromey Clary has been good for a number of years, but recent injuries have slowed him down.

During the UCLA Pro Day, Chargers coaches were on hand to watch guard Xavier Su’a Filo. He may be taken in the draft before the Chargers are willing to select him but someone of his caliber would immediately solidify the middle of the line. Maybe two-time All-American David Yankey out of Stanford or Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson would be more likely.

The Chargers do have a good offensive line. With the exception of Hardwick and Clary, they are just young and still developing. Fluker could be a Pro Bowler soon. If the offensive line can build on the good year they had in 2013, and possibly sign an extra body or two, this Chargers team will be much better offensively.