The 2017 NFL Draft started with a bang on Thursday evening, as the team that called San Diego home for 56 years chose a wide receiver, Mike Williams of Clemson, straight out the gate with the seventh selection of the first round.
But what really made fans stand and take notice was the same team taking not one, but two guards on Day 2: Forrest Lamp from Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney from Indiana. The two form a pair of hulking individuals whose presence should go a long way towards giving Bolts’ signal-caller Philip Rivers something that has been increasingly absent the last couple of seasons: a “little” thing known as time.
It took the Chargers two years to fill the glaring gap facing them when former center Nick Hardwick announced his retirement in February of 2015. The lack of the presence of Hardwick’s recognition of which protections to call at the line of scrimmage became exacerbated as Rivers took that responsibility upon himself the last two seasons due to countless injuries along the offensive line.
Last spring, in an effort to take some of that weight off his quarterback’s shoulders, general manager Tom Telesco added free-agent Matt Slauson (Chicago Bears) to the offensive line. Slauson is a guy who is well-known for his toughness. His skillset and experience were badly needed and highly rated.
Below we’ll take a quick look at the newest pieces to be tasked with keeping Rivers on his feet and off of his back.
Forrest Lamp was Telesco’s second-round choice (No. 38 overall). The former Hilltopper stands 6-foot-4, weighing 309 pounds. He started 51 games at left tackle while at Western Kentucky.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock on Lamp: “I thought his Alabama tape was the single most dominant offensive line performance I’ve seen against that front in 5 years…He’s gonna be a center or a guard at the next level.”
Third-round selection (No. 71) Dan Feeney tips that scale at 305 pounds, while matching Lamp’s height at 6-foot-4. He was a large reason why former Hoosier running backs Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons, 2015 draft) and Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears, 2016 draft) performed as well as they did at Indiana.
Feeney is a tenacious blocker who is tough, smart and carries one quality the Chargers desperately need on offense: nastiness.
Mayock on Feeney: “A really solid interior offensive lineman. I think he’s a natural right guard…this is a good pick for the Chargers. You can tell there’s a concentrated effort to get Philip Rivers hit less.”
The rookie is from the same school as Kris Dielman, the former left guard and four-time Pro Bowler for the Bolts who retired in 2012 after nine years in the trenches.
Speaking with Hayley Elwood of the team’s official website, Feeney reminisced that as a sophomore, Dielman returned to the Indiana campus to talk to the players. “He was an amazing player…Going to the Chargers just like Dielman is a huge honor for Indiana and especially myself,” added the rook.
Will Lamp and Feeney be starters heading in to the regular season? Only time will tell. Adding these two guys into the mix alongside Slauson and free-agent signing Russell Okung certainly should give Rivers time in the pocket, while also creating holes for third-year back Melvin Gordon.
Anticipation is building for a season of the unexpected; from playing in the mini-stadium that is the StubHub Center, to the hope that first-year head coach Anthony Lynn may lead this team back to the playoffs.
The 2017 NFL season for the Chargers is setting up to be one helluva year.
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