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Let me be clear. I live in San Diego, but I am in no way a Chargers fan. I honestly don’t even know how you could be with all of the disappointing seasons over the last 20 years or so. Even when the Chargers looked great on paper and were oozing with talent, they underachieved and caused many a fan to submit false insurance claims after breaking their televisions in frustration. We are talking about a team that fired then head coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2007 after he led the team to a 14-2 regular season record. Admittedly, he wasn’t getting it done in the playoffs, but since that firing the team has only been to the playoffs four times in the last eight seasons and only once since the 2009 season. Being a Chargers fan might even be worse than being a Browns fan. At least Cleveland fans expect to be terrible and aren’t teased with teams that seem talented on paper but ultimately let them down.
The offensive and defensive lines have been mostly horrible the last two seasons due to significant injuries on both sides of the ball. In 2015 San Diego started 30 different offensive line combinations. THIRTY. That’s an average of nearly two different combinations per game.
Going into the 2016 NFL draft the Chargers biggest needs were pretty clear. Upgrade the offensive line, pass rush, and find a replacement for the departed Eric Weddle. Pick by pick, let’s take a look at San Diego’s draft and see how they did.
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Joey Bosa DE, Round 1, Pick 3
This selection surprised most draft analysts as there was no reported connection between Bosa and the Chargers who were expected to take Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, or Ronnie Stanley. Instead, they went with Bosa who early on in the process was widely regarded as the best prospect in this draft class. On the surface, it seems like an odd fit for a player who excelled as a 4-3 defensive end when the Chargers are a predominantly 3-4 team. Bosa is versatile enough to take his hand out of the dirt though and shift to a 3-4 outside linebacker role who rushes the quarterback. He also has the size necessary to slide inside and generate pressure up the middle. Having a player who can move around on the defensive line will be a huge boon to the Chargers’ front seven. For fantasy purposes, it would have been nice to see them upgrade their offensive line with this pick to help out the skill positions, but you certainly can’t fault the Chargers for this selection if Bosa is the player they think he is.
Hunter Henry TE, Round 2, Pick 35
Drafting a tight end in the early second round is pretty significant capital to invest in that position. It can only mean that the Chargers see Henry as their starter at the position once Hall of Famer Antonio Gates’ legs finally decide to succeed from his torso in protest. In all seriousness though, this is a great pick. Not only does it secure a great player at a position before it becomes an issue in the wake of Gates’ departure, it also enhances their running game immediately. Henry was a huge part of why the Razorbacks’ rushing attack was so dominant over the last several seasons. With the recent microfracture news, the community is lower on Melvin Gordon than ever before. But not me. Maybe I’m just ignoring all the signs screaming in my face, but despite the poor production in 2015, I quite like Melvin Gordon and with the addition of Henry combined with his rock bottom price I currently see him as a buy.
Max Tuerk C, Round 3, Pick 66
Center was by far the biggest need on the offensive line and they addressed it in the third round with a good player who is coming off a torn ACL. If he is ready to play in 2016 then Philip Rivers interior protection will be much better than it was the last several seasons. He has also spent time at the guard and tackle positions so in the event we see more injuries along the line, Tuerk gives the Chargers some options if they need to move him around. Even if they have to wait a bit on Tuerk to get healthy, the position needed attention and Tuerk could provide stability on the offensive line for the next ten years.
Joshua Perry LB, Round 4, Pick 102
The team will surely look to move on from Manti Te’o after this season after his contract expires so this pick provides depth in 2016 and a potential starter in 2017. He immediately adds size and production to the linebacking core. Perry finished with 105 tackles in 2015 and 124 in 2014 the last two seasons for Ohio State.
Jatavis Brown LB, Round 5, Pick 175
After selecting back to back linebackers, it’s clear that the Chargers felt they needed to add depth and talent to the middle of the defense. Brown is a three-time first-team All-MAC player at the linebacker position but is a bit undersized so could slot in as an in the box safety for San Diego since they currently have no clear starter at the position.
Drew Kaser, P, Round 6, Pick 179
Mike Scifres will retire at the end of the season so the Chargers selected their next starting punter in the sixth round. He is widely regarded as the best punter in the class, so there’s that. At least they didn’t trade up in the second round to draft a kicker (lol Tampa Bay).
Derek Watt, FB, Round 6, Pick 198
Melvin Gordon is reunited with his college fullback. Considering the production Gordon put up at Wisconsin this is another reason to buy Gordon while the price is low. If the two can pick up where they left off in college then Watt was a steal in the sixth round.
Donovan Clark, Round 7, Pick 224
Clark was a third-team all Big Ten selection last season but is likely no more than depth at the NFL level. If Clark is starting games then it’s because something went horribly wrong.
The Chargers did a nice job adding to a depleted defense and added a center who when healthy should be their starter. Hunter Henry is an intriguing prospect for the future, but in my opinion, they didn’t invest enough in upgrading the offensive line to protect Philip Rivers. If they struggle to keep him upright again in 2016 then it will be another long and disappointing season for a team that might be packing up and leaving town come next March.