— Sports

Offensive line a priority as Chargers, Telesco go into draft

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) – Tom Telesco won’t admit it, but the general manager is starting to feel increased pressure as he approaches his ninth draft with the Los Angeles Chargers. While Telesco has hit the jackpot with first-round selections in recent seasons, including Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert last year, he has struggled to draft and develop offensive linemen and cornerbacks. Those are the top two positions of need for the Chargers, who have the 13th overall selection in the first round.

The Chargers have drafted seven offensive linemen since 2016, but only two remain on the roster, with neither currently projected as a starter. After a year when Herbert was under constant duress, the Chargers signed three linemen during free agency, making Corey Linsley the highest-paid center in the league. However, Los Angeles still needs to find a starting left tackle and add a swing tackle. Luckily for the team, this draft has plenty of depth at offensive tackle.

“You have to have tackled. Left and right, that doesn’t exist anymore. These guys move around. These defensive players move around. You have tackled, and they have to be mirrored players,” coach Brandon Staley said.

Offensive line

If Los Angeles remains at 13, it should be in an excellent position to grab one of the top three prospects. Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater have been the consensus top two, but the Chargers have also extensively scouted Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw. All three have been graded as solid pass blockers.

Correct tackle Bryan Bulaga is the only starter back from last year, but he missed six games and left in the first half of three others due to injury. “I think that’s why no matter where they’re drafted, and if they have to start as rookies, you have to project and know that this player will get much better. How they start is not how they will finish,” Staley said. “It’s incumbent upon us to coach them well and have an excellent plan to help them be as good as possible. Los Angeles will have nine picks in the draft, which is the most since it had 11 in 2004. After Philip Rivers signed with Indianapolis, it had a compensatory third-round pick and an extra sixth after Desmond King was traded to Tennessee.


Staley is the third coach Telesco has hired; Anthony Lynn was fired in January. In Telesco’s eight seasons, the Chargers have reached the playoffs twice, getting double-digit wins only once. Even though they ended last season on a four-game winning streak, the Chargers were under .500 for the second straight season and the third time in the past five years.

Edge rusher Joey Bosa and wide receiver Mike Williams are the only players still on the roster from the 2016 and ‘17 draft classes. The more significant concern might be with the 2019 class, which has hardly made an impact through two seasons. Defensive end Jerry Tillery, the first-round pick that year, had 30 tackles last season but was also credited with nine missed stops. He was called for eight penalties, including five that led to first downs.


The one position that could trump the Chargers’ glaring need at left tackle is cornerback. They re-signed Michael Davis and have Chris Harris Jr., but Harris projects more as a slot cornerback. With not many defensive players projected to go in the top half of the first round, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn could be available.

Expect the Chargers to address safety late on the second day or during rounds 4-7. They lost Rashawn Jenkins in free agency, and Derwin James is returning after missing last season due to a knee injury.


The Chargers have many options at receiver, but Williams is entering his contract’s final year. If Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith is still available at 13, that could be an option.

“We are very comfortable at 13. If we were in the 20s or 30s, that’s a little more difficult because typically nobody has that many players graded as first-round picks,” Telesco said.


The Chargers take a punter or kicker on the final day. Ty Long was last in the league in net punting average and had a league-high three punts blocked the previous season. The kicker is also a concern after Michael Badgley could not make a field goal beyond 45 yards in 2020.

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Follow Joe Reedy at http://twitter.com/joereedy

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button