Curious Draft For Bolts New GM
By Andrew Burer
Bold is the only word to describe Tom Telesco’s first draft as the Chargers general manager.
Five offensive linemen were already taken by the time the Chargers were on the clock. Still, knowing the team needed help on the line, Telesco used the 11th overall pick on Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker.
The problem with taking Fluker, however, is that he is only seen as a right tackle. He lacks the footwork to adequately protect Philip Rivers’ blind side. So why then, given how badly the Chargers need a left tackle, did they take a right tackle with the team’s first pick?
Moreover, the Chargers already had incumbent Jeromey Clary, who signed a four-year deal worth $20 million in 2011. Granted, Clary has struggled since re-signing with the Chargers, but the team still owes him $11,950,000 over the next two seasons.
With the addition of Fluker, Clary is expected to move inside to guard. But it still begs the question: Why not trade down and get an additional pick or two? Was the offensive line class really that deep this year that it forced the Chargers to take the best available lineman, instead of taking a left tackle later and using the 11th overall pick to fill other important needs on the defensive line or at cornerback?
Fluker could very well turn out to be a mainstay on the offensive line for years to come. He’s massive (6-5, 339) and possesses the intensity the line has lacked since Kris Dielman retired. But there were higher ranked players available at other positions the Chargers needed help at, such as Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei or Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.
The Chargers second and third round picks were equally as puzzling and daring. As we all know, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o comes with a lot of baggage, and Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a PCL injury last October that prematurely ended his junior season (he also was red-flagged with questionable drug test results at the NFL Combine).
Now, Te’o and Allen were both, at one point, considered first-round talent so they could definitely turn out to be steals. However, drafting a middle linebacker and wide receiver, once again, did not fill any of the Chargers most important needs.
Why trade up to take Te’o instead of taking another offensive lineman? Why add a wide receiver to a group already crowded with Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem, and Vincent Brown?
Sometimes taking the best available player, no matter the team need, is a smart move. But when your franchise quarterback has been sacked 117 times since 2010 (second most in the NFL over that span), it’s hard to justify.
The Chargers grabbed cornerback Steve Williams from Cal in the fifth, defensive end Tourek Williams from Florida International in the sixth, and quarterback Brad Sorensen from Southern Utah in the seventh round.
Both Williamses add depth and competition to their respective positions, especially with the departures of veterans Quentin Jammer (he technically can still re-sign with the Chargers but its unlikely), Antoine Cason and Shaun Phillips.
Sorensen is another curious pick. The Chargers should have used it on an offensive lineman. Why add a quarterback who’ll only see action on the scout team instead of chancing it on a late-round O-line prospect with potential upside?
Overall though, there’s no question Telesco added talented players. He made some bold moves, but only time will tell if they were the right ones.