Chargers fans finally had something real to cheer this season as the team, surprisingly to most, got the last golden ticket into the playoffs and made it into the divisional round. The reappearance on the hallowed ground of the playoffs signaled a complete turnover from the calamitous end of the AJ Smith/Norv Turner era and the beginning of the Tom Telesco/Mike McCoy era.
The Chargers were seen as big winners in last year’s draft as they got three first round skill level talents that fell as late as the third round. First round pick right tackle D.J. Fluker, third round pick and rookie of the year candidate, wide receiver Keenan Allen and second round pick, linebacker Mantei Teo were integral parts of the Chargers success. Sixth round pick, linebacker Tourek Williams, saw the field in 13 games and was an important piece of the Chargers defense with his hustle. That’s four of the Chargers seven draft picks stepping in right away and making an immediate impact.
Building on last season’s draft success will be important as the Chargers are finally facing the right direction following three straight seasons without a playoff appearance. The Chargers biggest need areas are the same as last season. There is still a lot of work needed to solidify the offensive line. The secondary is a disaster and the Chargers are woefully thin at wide receiver.
Keenan Allen was thrust into the starting lineup after Malcolm Floyd suffered a season ending disc injury to his neck in week two. Danario Alexander was lost for the season in preseason and has recently had his second ACL surgery. Floyd’s injury is career threatening and so is Alexander’s. Vincent Brown was primed to have his breakout season but the promise we saw before he was lost for the season in 2012 never materialized last season. Eddie Royal played great at the beginning of the season before fading into the woodwork around midseason. The Chargers need a legitimate threat to play opposite Allen.
The Cleveland Browns are a ship without a rudder. They had the look of a team that is rebuilding but then they started getting rid of their best players. The Browns drafted Trent Richardson with the third pick in the 2012 draft only to trade him to Indianapolis after two games this season. Richardson ran for 950 yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie campaign and showed all the promise in the world. In addition, they waived key players on offense and defense. Stud wide receiver Josh Gordon was being shopped at the trade deadline although a deal was not achieved.
Even without a good quarterback under center, the 6’3, 225-pound Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns. He averages 19 yards per catch, will be entering his third year as a pro and will only be 23 years old when the season starts. Among his many accomplishments, Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200-yard games. The sky is the limit for Gordon and it looks like the Browns could let him go to the highest bidder.
With that in mind, should the Chargers give up their first round pick in this year’s draft to get Gordon?
If there was one player who could solve the Chargers receiver issues, its Gordon. Gordon is a bona fide number one receiver. With Allen on the opposite side, defenses wouldn’t be able to key on just one of them. The other will be left to roam against single coverage. The extra attention to both wide receivers would open up the middle of the field for tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. Teams would not be able to crowd the box, leaving running lanes for Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. Gordon’s addition punches the Chargers ticket for the AFC Championship game. With a quarterback like Rivers at the controls, the Chargers would have an offense reminiscent of this year’s Broncos.
If the Chargers had done what most figured they would do and fail miserably then the pick in the top half of the draft might have changed the answer to that question. However, with the Chargers unexpected run through the postseason, they are picking 25th in May. Giving that pick to Cleveland for Gordon is money in the bank. The blue chip offensive tackles are already going to be taken. Gems are going to have to be discovered through thorough research. The same can be said for the top cornerbacks and safeties. Benefiting the Chargers is the fact that this is going to be a very deep, talent-rich draft. There are going to be plenty of gems in the later rounds. Gordon is a game changer and his addition would pay dividends immediately.
Those of us desperate enough for football to watch the Pro Bowl saw the Rivers to Gordon connection work for a touchdown. The only question is how much more will the Browns ask for? A pick and a player? A first this year and a conditional high pick next year? Two picks this year?
If it’s at all possible I trust in Tom Telesco to get the deal done without costing the Chargers a fortune. We’ve seen what he can do in the later rounds and I trust he will do just as well in rounds 2-7 this year. The time is now for the Chargers to go for the gold and adding Gordon would be the biggest get of the offseason.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Is a first round pick too high for Gordon?
The Greg One