“Chargers-Win Now or Build Future?”
The NFL draft begins Thursday evening, and everyone is on the clock, especially the GM of the Chargers, Tom Telesco, and his VP-Football Operations John Spanos.
In their tenure, the team with a likely Hall of Fame quarterback, Philip Rivers, has gone (48-48) under their leadership.
Rivers has carried the team, thru it’s horrible non playoff seasons, to record setting passing seasons, to finally a playoff win a year ago.
But he has also sat there and seen the roster turnover take place, talent coming in, lots of it, but lots of players leaving too, via injury, retirement, free agent defections.
And now in the twilight of his career, he could be quarterbacking a team worse off than the one that finished a pretty good (12-4) season., and won a playoff game in Baltmore.
By virtue of the good season Anthony Lynn drove the team to, they are paying a steep price. Next season’s schedule, especially at home, will be brutal. It’s as if they are lining up against every big name quarterback in the league.
Normally at home, that would be an advantage, if you had to face Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, DeSean Watson, Kirk Cousins,Patrick Mahomes, and Derek Carr.
But because they are the Chargers, owned by Dean Spanos, relocated to a soccer stadium, in a city where the media and fans don’t care for them, every home game becomes a road game, because the ticket brokers buy up the tickets and sell them to visiting fans.
Now Rivers, with a pretty good offense around him, looks at draft week, and realizes he has half a defense on his roster, and very little way for the Telesco-Spanos team to get players into LA.
Part of me says the draft is the best its been in over a decade for defensive talent. The Mock drafts indicate 9-of the first 12-players to be picked on Thursday will be on defense. A deeper look shows as many as 20-of-31 first round picks may be from that side of the ball.
A good thing, but not a good thing for the Bolts, in that they draft 28th in the opening round, and then 60th and 92nd in the second and third rounds.
Add into the equation, the unique opportunity for the Chargers to possibly get their quarterback for the future, if they choose to get into the bidding for about to be traded Arizona Cardinals QB-Josh Rosen.
The Cardinals though are trying to play the price is right, wanting someone’s first round pick in a deal. The Bolts won’t do that, but might be willing to ship out the 60th pick, unless Arizona finds someone else willing to package multiple choices for the ex-UCLA star.
The defections this off season have been significant on the Chargers defense.
Gone are DE-Corey Liuget, DT-Darius Philon, LB-Kyle Emanuel, S-Jahleel Addae, CB-Jason Verrett, plus CB-Trevor Williams.
Unsigned are LB-Jatavis Brown, DT-Damian Square, TE-Antonio Gates, as well as Addae.
Complicating all this is a dire lack of salary cap room, because they have commitments to Rivers, an upcoming extension to Melvin Gordon, and big money owed to offensive lineman and wide receivers.
The Bolts priority come Thursday has to be in the defensive front. Three potential 1st round picks could be there, but each comes with a red-flag.
Clemson’s monster defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence might be there, unless teams look past his mysterious PED-bowl suspension for the Tigers. He is big, physical, with some burst. They don’t have that at that position right now. Might he be an Aaron Donald in waiting?
Jeff Simmons, a massive inside defensive lineman from Mississippi State, might fall, as he comes off knee surgery for a ligament injury suffered in off season training leading to the combine. He is brute strong and takes up space. He should be able to play by July.
Jerry Tillery, a 6’6 tackle-end from Notre Dame is likely to be on the board. Big guy, plays tough, but is coming off shoulder surgery.
A backup plan, if those lineman are gone, Alabama run stuff–tackle everything LB-Mark Wilson, though that might be a reach to take him in the back end of the first round.
More than anything, it better be defense, better be a ‘player’ too.
Telesco has done a good job the last two years, drafting Derwin James of Florida State and Joey Bosa of Ohio State, but that was with higher first round picks than he will have come Thursday evening.
And never before has he had to replace as many as 8-players on that defense that were part of a pretty combative group, supporting his star quarterback. Of course they did well playing the 3rd easiest schedule last year. Not so this fall.
The Chargers front office does not have a history of being aggressive on draft day. There’s not really a history to act like Bill Belicheck or Jerry Jones, trade up, trade back, wheel and deal. They don’t do ‘bold’ very well.
So they are all on the clock, as are what few Chargers fans are still left in San Diego, or the ones they say support them in LA.
I laughed when the team announced last week, they were returning to the ‘Powder Blues’ uniforms next season. You know, the ones the Spanos family disdained for years, because it was a symbol of great years prior owners had, that the Spanos never really got to.
Fittingly, Team Spanos should have positioned the new colors for 2020 when they move into the shiny new Stan Kroenke built Rams Stadium as a tenant. New home, new look. But not AG Spanos, the other son, who makes those type of decision.
Well at least in their soccer stadium, those Powder Blues will be easily identified, for that color will stand out in the midst of all those wearing Packers green, Chiefs red, Broncos orange, Steelers black and gold, Raiders black etc…etc. So much for being at home..
What would really be something to stand out would be Telesco’s ability to land the right player on defense at the 28th spot, and find a gem at the 60th pick.
He’s on the clock, under pressure, to keep this team at its current level.
Clock ticking to make the franchise better than (48-48).