When the offseason started the San Diego Chargers did not have a ton of cap room. That has meant they have not been huge players in the free agent market. That does not mean the team does not have holes it must fill. Since money is so tight the team will have to fill those holes through the draft.
The Chargers have three glaring holes. They need secondary help, pass rush help, and inside linebacker help.
In the 2013 draft the Chargers attempted to address the need at inside linebacker by selecting Manti Te’O. The problem was while Te’O did not have a huge impact. Bleacherreport.com recently ranked the 60 inside linebackers in the NFL during the 2013 season and Te’O came in 47th.
He is only ranked that high because of how well he plays in zone coverage. In man coverage he is often out matched. In college he was beloved because he would find his way to the football; in the NFL he hasn’t had the same success. He doesn’t shed blocks well and seems timid when attempting to make a play. In his second season one would hope he would begin to play better and with more confidence.
The fact that Te’O didn’t have the desired impact was only complicated by the fact that Donald Butler didn’t have a great season. Butler was ranked 56th on the list. Butler is the now the veteran of the backers and must show he is more than just raw athletic talent.
Butler signed a new contract in March. The first three years are worth $20 million with $12 million guaranteed. For that type of money he cannot be ranked this low next season. With Butler and Te’O already in the fold the Chargers may take a linebacker in the draft but it more than likely would be a late-round pick.
The Chargers own the 25th pick in the first-round of the draft. There is some conjecture over which way they should go, cornerback, OLB, and some have them suggested the team take a defensive tackle. This draft appears to be pretty deep at corner, the team could use help inside but they are not desperate, but pass rush is a dire need.
Dee Ford could be the guy the Chargers need to ignite the rush. He is not the biggest guy, but he finds a way to make plays. Last season at Auburn, Ford finished with 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss after he missed the first two games of the season.
The BCS title game was a showcase for Ford to show NFL scouts what he could do. He gave the right side of Florida State’s offensive line fits all night long. If he can become more than just a speed guy, Ford could be causing problems for offensive lineman for years to come.
The other major need the Chargers need to address is cornerback. Last season, the secondary flat out was abysmal early and found a way to be competent late in the season. They will need to play at a higher level this season and play with more consistency.
The Chargers should pray that Bradley Roby is available in the second-round. They would likely have to move up to get him but sometimes to fill a need moving up is necessary. Roby runs a 4.3 40 yard dash and is rated as one of the best corners in the draft.
It is probable that the Chargers take more than one corner in the draft and in the later rounds Nevin Lawson out of Utah State could be a fit. He will be a late round pick largely due to the fact he is not the ideal size for an NFL corner. He is listed as 5’10 and that maybe being nice.
No matter who the Chargers chose to select in May, if they find a way to find their holes, another playoff run is likely in their future.