The 2015 season is one the San Diego Chargers would like to forget. The team went 4-12 and a playoff berth two seasons ago seems like a distant memory. The lone bright spot of this season is that the Chargers possess the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
This year the top three picks belong to the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and the Chargers. With only two teams in front of them, San Diego will have an opportunity to assess one of its many needs with a premier-level player.
It seems all but certain that the Browns intend to draft California quarterback Jared Goff, leaving the Chargers with a toss-up between The Ohio State University’s Joey Bosa and Mississippi University’s Laremy Tunsil.
Of these two options, the Chargers need immediate help at both positions. However, Tunsil provides instant impact to a unit that played ten different offensive linemen in 2015. Injuries ravaged this line as they gave up 40 sacks on the season, the second most of Phillip Rivers’ career, and gave Rivers a noticeably short amount of time in the pocket. The Chargers used a first-round pick on D.J. Fluker in 2013 but need to keep improving the line.
Tunsil, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman is a coveted prospect who would immediately bring positive change to the Chargers in the form of production and youth. In 29 career games with Ole Miss, Tunsil only allowed two sacks and will turn just 22 years old in August. He showcased his ability at multiple positions but finished his career at left tackle for the Rebels, displaying his quickness, balance and lack of complacency on the field. The addition of Tunsil would be an instant upgrade over the injury-prone King Dunlap.
Over the course of his eight-year career, Dunlap has only played a full season once. With Tunsil taking over the position, the offensive line would be heading in the right direction as 2015 free-agent pickups Orlando Franklin and Joe Barksdale as well as Chris Watt and D.J. Fluker continue to grow together. Barksdale was the only member of this unit to start and play all 16 games in 2015, increasing the need for Tunsil to bring stability to the offensive line. Tunsil also played smart football at Ole Miss and was not often penalized. The Chargers had 48 penalties come from the offensive line in 2015, a number that needs to decrease if the team expects to win more games in 2016.
In any scenario where Tunsil is available when San Diego picks, the Chargers need to pounce on the opportunity. Tunsil is a franchise player and the first of many necessary transactions needed to restore this franchise to what it once was.