The San Diego Chargers had quite the season regarding their offensive line in 2014. Sometimes making the record books isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the Chargers made history by being the only team to ever have 5 different starters at the center position throughout the season.
The injury ravaged position provided less than ideal stability for a key position. 11 year veteran, and lifetime Charger, Nick Hardwick was injured and placed on IR after just one game. Rich Ohrnberger and Doug Legursky were next to be placed on IR ending their seasons. Chris Watt and Trevor Robinson were the last to start at the position. Watt was injured early in a game in week 16 and never played the rest of season.
Other than the injuries, inconsistent play along the other positions left the Chargers ranked in the bottom five for O-line.
So it was imperative that Gm Tom Telesco improved the group this offseason. While the Chargers went defensive heavy in the draft (4 out of 5 players on that side of the ball), the Chargers were still productive by adding free-agents around a young core of players.
He signed a 5 year, $35.5 million deal that not only straightened the Chargers O-line but weakened the Broncos, so this was a really great move by Telesco. Hopefully Peyton Manning will be spending even more time scrambling on those 40 year old legs this season.
The Chargers also signed Right Tackle Joe Barksdale, who last played for the Rams, to a 1 year $1 million contract. While a lot of people think this move will allow D.J Fluker to move inside to his more natural position of Right Guard, Barksdale will still have to compete for a starting spot this summer. The move, at the very least, provides much needed depth along the line.
Left Tackle King Dunlap was one of the oldest, yet best offensive lineman for the Chargers and most consistent in the league during 2014. The Chargers’ 2014 Lineman of the Year was 23rd overall for offensive tackle ratings according to Pro Football Focus. The 29 year old will anchor the left side again for the Chargers in 2015.
Guard Chris Watt was a 2013 third round pick out of Notre Dame. He had never played a snap at center in college before starting at the position for the Chargers due to the circumstances at the end of the year.
He has been working primarily at the center position in the offseason and the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in the kid to handle full time duties this season. It will be the first time in 11 seasons without Nick Hardwick holding down the position as he retired in February.
Right Tackle D.J. Fluker, the 25 year old from Alabama, had a great start to his career as a rookie in 2013 but failed to show consistency in pass blocking last season. He may get to slide into his more natural guard position with the addition of Barksdale but I’m expecting big things again for the Fluker.
Now, let’s take a look at how our massive offensive line could lineup come September.
LT King Dunlap 6′ 9″ 330 lbs.
LG Orlando Franklin 6′ 7″ 320 lbs.
C Chris Watt 6′ 3″ 310 lbs.
RG D.J Fluker 6′ 5″ 339 lbs.
RT Joe Barksdale 6′ 5: 326 lbs.
What are they feeding these guys!? Imagine taking them to a buffet and seeing the damage they could do.
Anyway, if these guys can all stay healthy look out because Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon are going to have big years behind this group.