by Mario Granata
While many teams made a splash during the 2018 NFL off-season, the Chargers hardly made a ripple in the water with their moves. Obviously not many teams made the moves that the Los Angeles Rams did, and being in the same town didn't seem to put any added pressure on the Chargers to match their moves. Despite having (essentially) head coaches occupy the HC, OC, and DC, they didn't make many moves. Perhaps Tom Telesco was asleep at the wheel...or perhaps laying low in the weeds.
The Chargers are currently 6.56 million dollars under the cap, which poses a little problem for them as their draft class is projected to cost them around 6.2 million. This leaves very little room for error (and injury) once training camp starts in July. The Chargers ate up some cap room with some questionable signings, but like I said before, they have 3 head coaches on this staff, so maybe they know something that the rest of us don't.
Due to the draft position that the Chargers hold (17th), and the offensive and defensive talent that will slide down to the board, some of their signings could have been had at a much cheaper price than they paid this off-season.
Mike Pouncy, C, came over from Miami, signing a 15 million dollar deal (10 guaranteed), as did Virgil Green from the Broncos (8.6-2.4G). Both of these positions could have been addressed in the draft at a fraction of the cost and it wasn't like the Chargers got great deals or significantly younger at each position. Green will take over duties of the Ageless wonder Antonio Gates, but was it necessary to sign him when a younger prospect could have been had in the Draft? I guess.
Los Angeles also signed Mike Schofield for 5 million, another position that is typically taken in the second round or later. These moves are puzzling to me. I know the primary focus is to protect Phillip Rivers and rookies are hit and miss, but they are cheaper and still could be serviceable.
The Chargers also added Geno Smith and Caleb Sturgis...MOVING ON.
While other teams will be jockeying for a position to take their next franchise quarterback, the Chargers could literally take a dart and throw it at their draft board and take whomever they want with the 17th pick. Under Gus Bradley in 2017, the Chargers had the 3rd ranked defense in points allowed, yet many experts have them taking players on the defensive side of the ball. Vita Vea, DL, Da'Ron Payne, DL, Derwin James, S, and Leighton Vander Esch, ILB round out the top picks for the Chargers.
Vea and Payne are solid picks for two reasons: the running backs that are in the AFC West are going to be a problem in 2018 and putting either one of them next to Joey Bosa will instantly make that defense tough to beat.
Los Angeles is still looking for the heir apparent to Eric Weddle, and that could be the Florida State product James, and having him on the backend to defend the likes of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas will come in handy late in the season.
Vander Esch gives the Chargers a dominant presence in the middle of the defense if they happen to miss on a defensive tackle. He and he alone can clean up those running backs in the West should they make it to the second level.