Addressing the need at linebacker, right tackle, guard, and defensive tackle
So that fills the need at free safety. Let’s move on to inside linebacker and offensive tackle, two positions with unreliable starters. Perryman, despite being brought back for two more years, has a contract that represents a lack of complete faith in his ability to be a healthy starting middle linebacker, as the former second round pick has missed 16 out of 32 games in the past two seasons. The fix: Draft a middle linebacker with starting talent who can compete for the job. Perryman’s contract all but rules out the idea of the team spending even more money on a player at the same position with greater talent. Last year, the Chargers drafted Kyzir White in the fourth round to compete with struggling linebacker Jatavis Brown. Not only did the Chargers get a starter in White, but it appeared to light a fire under Brown, who had 97 combined tackles and five passed defended despite just 10 games started. A draft pick allows the team to give Perryman that same chance to seize the starting job, while still having a strong back-up plan in the event that he is lost to injury.
Tevi is unreliable not due to health reasons, but because of overall talent and lackluster performance as a starting tackle. Playing in 87.54 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, the former sixth round pick didn’t do enough to warrant him having a firm grasp on the starting gig. As it is with Perryman, the Chargers can draft capable talent to work behind Tevi, if not upset him for the starting position. The difference here, however, is that Telesco frequently makes splashes on the offensive line in free agency, as he has not shown an ability to draft linemen well. Fortunately for Tevi, the team may not have enough cap space to bring in an excellent veteran tackle, so their only options are second-tier talent (besides, the market is thin). If they expect Tevi to improve into at least a mid-tier tackle in his first full year as the starter, then why spend money when they have a cheap option they’ve invested draft capital in already playing on the team?
I expect the two remaining positions, guard and interior defensive line, to remain relatively the same. Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp will likely be given this year to progress, though a Day 3 draft pick (as it was last year with Scott Quessenberry) could be used for depth. If Philon returns, the Chargers have decent talent in the middle of the defensive line, even if not spectacular. At least one more defensive linemen will be drafted, though, as Telesco tends to like a bevy of defensive tackles to rotate through.
All in all, here are my pre-free agency predictions:
- Draft an offensive tackle and/or middle linebacker within the first two rounds. Perryman and Tevi left as starters for now, but are given high-caliber competition in training camp. One of them is losing their jobs.
- Sign a second-tier free safety in free agency.
- Re-sign Philon, Phillips, Gates.
- Travis Benjamin is retained for his final year.
- Defensive line rotation looks relatively the same, though the team could use a Day 3 pick in a defensive depth-heavy draft.
- Offensive guard looks the same, unless the team knows more about Lamp and he has no chance of starting.
Of course, I was the guy who once thought signing Donnie Jones as the punter was a good thing, so what do I know? Whether you agree or disagree with my predictions, let me know in the comments below. It’ll be interesting to see how much it all changes following free agency. Go Bolts!