It’s no secret that the Chargers offensive line still needs some work. Arguably, the 2014 season may have had better days with a healthy, yet talented line. In order for the team to see the playoffs in 2015, Tom Telesco needs to address the offensive line first and foremost.
With less than five weeks until the 2015 NFL Draft, fans are becoming increasingly more vocal as to who their favorite team should draft in the first round. For the Bolts, the first round pick should be reserved for offensive tackle like Ereck Flowers.
Weight: 329 lbs
40-yard dash: 5.31 sec
What’s not to like about this guy? First off, he is huge. Standing at 6-foot-6, his height alone fits the mold of what San Diego needs to block for Philip Rivers. His 40-yard time wasn’t the best at this year’s Combine, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. He has broad shoulders and a low stance which adds to his run blocking talent.
He has quick feet and the ability to scramble if beaten. The speed he possesses off the line allows him to power and drive through blockers. Additionally, he has played both tackle positions. The diversity and ability to play more than one position is what Telesco seems to be looking for in players lately.
Flowers’ run blocking is exceptional, however his pass blocking needs work. He has the talent and quickness to be a high performing tackle in the NFL, yet has some balance issues. He tends to get beaten by smaller defensive ends due to poor stance and balance.
With his huge frame and competitiveness, there’s no reason why Flowers can’t become a starter in the league. Some of his downfalls can easily be improved upon by some advanced coaching. When it comes down to it, the Chargers still have some gaps to fill on the offensive line. If the Bolts draft Ereck Flowers, the line will finally look like a contending unit.
After Tom Telesco was brought in as the new general manager in 2013, one of his priorities was to improve the offensive line. That year he drafted right tackle, D.J. Fluker out of Alabama. Although it partially aided the right side, the addition wasn’t enough.
In 2014, injuries plagued the offensive unit into oblivion. Philip Rivers went without veteran center and longtime teammate, Nick Hardwick, after he spent almost the entire season on injured reserve. By the end of the year, Rivers was on his fifth center. According to Pro Football Focus, San Diego ranked 27th in pass blocking, and 26th in run blocking at the end of last season. If things are going to change in 2015, Telesco needs to make ascendant transactions.
As the team made its way into the offseason, Bolt fans questioned how the Chargers will find the talent needed to fix the offensive line. Telesco started off by re-signing left tackle, King Dunlap, this year’s respectively best free agent in his position. Shortly after locking up Rivers’ stud blocker, the young general made great strides by signing former Denver Bronco’s guard, Orlando Franklin to the roster. In addition to securing Dunlap and Franklin, Telesco also re-signed center Trevor Robinson. These transactions alone have brought the Chargers’ very mediocre line to a contending unit.
So, have the Bolts done enough to fix the offensive line? The answer is almost. According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Tom Telesco stated that Johnnie Troutman, as of right now, is the team’s starting right guard. Considering Troutman has been far from impressive, that’s extremely alarming. WalterFootball.com reported that Johnnie Troutman and Chad Reinhart were the worst guard duo in the league in 2014. Franklin replaces Rinehart, but that still leaves a frightening breach at right guard.
There has been a lot of talk about shifting Fluker from tackle to guard this offseason. He has no experience in the position. Not in high school, and not in college. Yet, let’s say he is moved, it still leaves a gap in the tackle position. A potentially effective way to address the matter would be to swing Fluker to the inside, and find a tackle in this year’s draft. Even though San Diego needs a running back after the departure of Ryan Mathews, this year’s draft class is loaded with talented running backs. It’s not an outrageous option to think about taking a offensive lineman like Ereck Flowers in the first round.
A solid offensive line has proven fruitful for some clubs in the NFL. Since 2011, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted three offensive linemen in the first-round: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. The other two, Ronald Leary and Doug Free, were undrafted free agents. Last season, the Cowboys finished with the 4th best pass blocking, and the 2nd best run blocking in the league. If the Chargers want those type of results, it would have to be from following Dallas’ blueprint.
As of today, the line lists as follows: LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin, C Chris Watt, RG Johnnie Troutman, and RT D.J. Fluker. Not bad, but not stellar. If the Bolts plan to contend for a playoff appearance in 2015, they will need a comprehensive offensive line. An upgraded line will upsurge Rivers’ productivity, plus adding some life to the lackluster run game. With less than five weeks left until the 2015 NFL Draft, fans will have to continue to wait and see what the Chargers organization plan to do with their six picks.
Should the Chargers draft a offensive lineman in the first round? Vote your opinion below:
Despite the NFL draft being months away, there are already hundreds of mock drafts all over the internet. A few times a year I take the time to check out the various mocks and look at which players the draftniks have pegged as draft selections for the Chargers.
This post will mark the first time I am doing that this offseason. I went through 75 different mock drafts and tallied up all of the prospects that were mocked to the Bolts in the first round.
Here are the names that came up after scanning the web.
Players receiving one vote:
SS – Landon Collins Alabama
RB – Todd Gurley Georgia
CB – Trae Waynes Michigan State
OLB – Vic Beasley Clemson
CB – Marcus Peters Washington
CB – PJ Williams Florida State
DE/LB – Shane Ray Missouri
CB – Ronald Darby Florida State
CB – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Oregon
DT – Jordan Phillips Oklahoma
OT – Ty Sambrailo Colorado State
DE – Alvin Dupree Kentucky
CB – Kevin Johnson Wake Forest
Players receiving two votes:
DE – Arik Armstead Oregon
OT – Brandon Scherff Iowa
Players receiving four votes:
C/OT – Cam Erving Florida State
OT – Cedric Ogbuehi Texas A & M
Players receiving five votes:
OT – Ereck Flowers Miami
OT – Andrus Peat Stanford
DT – Eddie Goldman Florida State
Players receiving six votes:
OT – TJ Clemmings Pittsburgh
Players receiving eight votes:
NT – Danny Shelton Washington
Players receiving ten votes:
OT – La’El Collins LSU
And with the 17th pick in the 2015 NFL draft, receiving eleven votes, the San Diego Chargers select……
RB – Melvin Gordon Wisconsin
Although Melvin Gordon has a ton of potential to be a fantastic running back in the NFL, there are so many other needs that might need to be filled prior to drafting a ball carrier. Many draft experts have compared him to Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.
This offseason will be very interesting in San Diego. Tom Telesco has his work cut out for him and it should be fun to watch his plans unravel.
Thanks a lot for reading.