Fixing the Los Angeles Chargers

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The Chargers are going through a big rebuild just a year after reaching the divisional round of the playoffs. The move to LA is finally complete as they will be moving into their new stadium that they’ll be sharing with the Rams. The interim soccer stadium that the Chargers played in for two seasons did not treat them well, so hopefully this new stadium will bring some more of their own fans.

The Chargers announced this week that they will officially be moving on from long-time starting Quarterback Phillip Rivers. It is the most crucial open QB starting spot in the league due to the need to fill that new stadium with Chargers fans. You’ll have to keep reading to find out that plan, but I think Charger fans will be very pleased with it.

Cap Space: $51.7 million

Resign:

Before I begin listing players who the Chargers should bring back, I want to address not bringing back RB Melvin Gordon. First, he will demand a lot of money that the Chargers just can’t afford. Second, RB Austin Ekeler can easily be the top running back on this team. He was in that role for half of last season and played extremely well. Plus, Ekeler is a much better pass-catcher out of the backfield which adds an extra level to the Chargers offense.

- Michael Schofield, G

Schofield has started every game the past four out of five seasons, only allowed one sack in 16 games in 2019, and is only 29 years old. This offensive line doesn’t have a lot of bright spots, but Schofield is one of them.

- Damion Square, DL

Square is at minimum a great piece off the bench for this defensive line. He showed great flashes that showed he could be a starter.

- Adrian Phillips, S

The pairing of Phillips and Derwin James is one of the best safety tandems in the league. Phillips is coming off an injury that cost him most of the season, so he probably won’t cost too much.

- Hunter Henry, TE

This is the most crucial resigning for the Chargers this offseason. He’s only 25 years old and already one of the best tight ends in the league.

- Nick Dzubnar, LB

Dzubnar is a quality backup linebacker as well as a special teams ace. He’s worth bringing back just for what he brings to the table on special teams.

- Lance Kendricks, TE

Kendricks is a great second tight end who could potentially start on another team. The Chargers should make sure the price is right as long as Kendricks is willing to stay.

- Jaylen Watkins, S

The price has to be right here as well. The Chargers already have safeties Derwin James, Adrian Phillips (if resigned), and Nasir Adderley. But Watkins was great when given a chance on the field.

- Sylvester Williams, DL

Williams was signed to the Chargers in the middle of the season. He performed really well during his limited time on the field. Williams should be brought back for the depth he provides.

- Derek Watt, FB

I love fullbacks, and Watt is one of the best in the league. This is possibly the biggest no-brainer resigning besides Hunter Henry.

Free Agency:

The Chargers don’t have a lot of cap space, so they will have to take a more conservative approach in free agency. I don’t think they need to chase a splash player in free agency, so I’m only looking at average-cost players who are just outside top 10 in their respective positions in Tier One, and guys who can still start for this team in Tier Two.

However, if the rumors of Tom Brady exploring free agency are true, I would throw every penny at him that I could. What better way to sell tickets to your fans in your brand new stadium that you fear is going to be overrun by opposing fans? Even if you only get Brady for one season, he’s still the best quarterback of all-time, and the second part of my QB plan probably works even better that way.

Tier One:

- Kyle Van Noy, LB
- Brandon Scherff, OL
- Jack Conklin, OT
- Trae Waynes, CB
- Andrus Peat, OG
- Bruce Irvin, LB
- Joe Schobert, LB

Tier Two:

- Jimmy Smith, CB
- Danny Trevathan, LB
- Eli Apple, CB
- Anthony Costanzo, OT
- Logan Ryan, CB
- Jason Verrett, CB
- Bryan Bulaga, OT
- Kendall Fuller, CB
- Bradley Roby, CB
- Darron Lee, LB
- Mackensie Alexander, CB
- Daryl Williams, OT
- Logan Ryan, CB
- Nick Kwiatkowski, LB
- Kamalei Correa, LB

Draft:

Round One (pick 6):

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

There has been so much talk about Herbert’s inconsistency and questioning his leadership, but I’m no longer over-weighing those things. Herbert has so many great qualities and when he’s completely on his game, he’s better than anyone on the field. Herbert should be a top-10 pick and this is the perfect situation for him. Not only do the Chargers have a lot of weapons, but if they can land Tom Brady in free agency, Herbert can sit behind him and learn from the greatest. It’s the perfect situation for both sides.

Round Two (pick 37):

Normally, I list two positions to consider with the second round pick, but for the Chargers, it’s only offensive line. Tackle, guard, center, it doesn’t matter. Games are truly won or lost in the trenches, and their offensive line is one of the weakest in the league. If they get Brady in free agency, they won’t have the money to go after top offensive linemen. So they need to hammer it multiple times in the draft.

- Austin Jackson, OT, USC
- Tyler Biadasz, OL, Wisconsin
- Josh Jones, OT, Houston
- Lloyd Cushenberry III, OL, LSU

Round Three (pick 69):

Like I said above, the Chargers need to draft multiple offensive linemen so they should look that way again with this pick. They should also consider addressing the linebacker and cornerback positions. They have a fairly weak linebacker unit and their cornerbacks just can’t seem to stay healthy.

Offensive linemen:

- Calvin Throckmorton, OT, Oregon
- Shane Lemieux, OL, Oregon
- Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
- Nick Harris, OL, Washington

Linebackers:

- Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
- Troy Dye, LB, Oregon

Cornerbacks:

- Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
- Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Round Four (pick 100):

Along with offensive line, linebacker, and cornerback, the Chargers should look at edge rushers and defensive linemen with this pick. They have good starters at these positions, but you always need more depth along the defensive front.

Previous positions:

- Yasir Durant, OT, Missouri
- Ben Bredeson, OL, Michigan
- Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
- Joe Bachie, LB, Michigan State
- Myles Bryant, CB, Washington
- Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State

Edge rushers:

- Khalid Kareem, EDGE, Notre Dame
- Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida

Defensive linemen:

- Rashard Lawrence, DL, LSU
- Alton Robinson, DL, Syracuse

Rounds Five to Seven (picks 131, 164, 195):

The later rounds are usually used to throw darts on prospects from small schools, prospects with off-field issues, and prospects with really low floors but really high ceilings. Along with the positions previously mentioned, the Chargers should also be looking at wide receivers and running backs in the late rounds

Previous positions:

- Ben Bartch, OT, St. John's
- Jon Runyan, OT, Michigan
- John Molchon, OL, Boise State
- Simon Stepaniak, OL, Indiana
- Kamal Martin, LB, Minnesota
- Casey Toohill, LB, Stanford
- Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA
- James Pierre, CB, Florida Atlantic
- Carter Coughlin, EDGE, Minnesota
- Justin Strnad, EDGE, Wake Forest
- Mustafa Johnson, DL, Colorado
- Ray Lima, DL, Iowa State

Wide receivers:

- John Hightower, WR, Boise State
- Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee

Running backs:

- Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA
- Tony Jones Jr., RB, Notre Dame

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