Coming off a playoff run a team normally doesn’t have a ton of holes to fill. In the case of the San Diego Chargers, they have a few places where they could upgrade talent moving forward. The Chargers are not devoid of talent; they just need some tinkering to go even deeper in the playoffs and ultimately attempt to win a Super Bowl.
The team’s top priority should be to shore up an all-too-often leaky secondary. The term “shutdown corner” is often used, yet few exist. The Chargers just need to find a guy that can be competent and not get lost as much as Derek Cox did this past season. The free agent market is not deep at the position, and the better corners will probably be re-signed by their teams. It is unlikely guys like Sam Shields or Aqib Talib will become available.
That leaves the Chargers with drafting a corner. There are a few guys the Chargers should look into. Darquis Dennard out of Michigan State is the No. 1 corner on many draft boards. Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State and Jason Verrett of TCU both have first round grades headed into the all-important combine. It should be a priority that one of these players ends up in a Chargers uniform.
The Chargers also have a need for a dominant pass rusher. They were hoping that Dwight Freeney had something left in the tank but he suffered a season-ending injury and his absence hurt the team. Brian Orakpo will be the big name in the free agent market but he will have many suitors. Jared Allen will be a free agent but he has always played in the 4-3 defense. No one knows how he will react to standing up in the 3-4 defense.
If the Chargers go the way of the draft, a few names to look for are Vic Beasley of Clemson, Kyle Van Noy of Brigham Young, and undersized Dee Ford of Auburn. Anthony Barr is considered by many to be the best OLB in the draft but he will be long gone by the time the Chargers have a selection.
The other need the Chargers need to shore up is inside linebacker. Manti Te’O is not a bad linebacker; he just is not an above-average one yet either. The Chargers need someone who is going to make game-changing plays for them from that position. The book is not closed on Te’O but maybe the signing of a veteran would help the team. Veterans like Daryl Smith and Karlos Dansby will be available and both had good seasons in their advanced NFL age. They both also would help in the leadership department.
The Chargers have started off in the right direction under Mike McCoy. Last season in the draft the team selected D.J. Fluker and Keenan Allen in the first and third round respectively. Both of them made the All-Rookie Team and Allen was the 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Handling this offseason in a similar fashion will go a long way in determining whether last season was an arbitration or if it’s going to be the norm in this regime.
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