2018 NFL Draft Reset: Chargers draft in search of defense

— By Jay Paris, NFLDraftScout.com —

The Los Angeles Chargers ended the season by winning nine of 12 games and were looking ahead with optimism. The question is if their offseason adds to that sunny disposition.

Los Angeles’ other team, the Rams, is stealing the offseason headlines with blockbuster acquisitions. The Chargers have been more under the radar, but with head coach Anthony Lynn still checking off his to-do list.

Finding a fresh leg or two was No. 1 on Lynn’s mind. The Chargers went through four kickers last year and none of them performed up to snuff. When looking at the reason why the Chargers didn’t make the playoffs despite their late push, just zero in on kickers.

So, they signed Caleb Sturgis, who was with the Eagles last year and added former Tampa Bay kicker Robert Aguayo.

Lynn, a former NFL running back, also talked of making the rushing game more stout. So the team signed Miami center Mike Pouncey and brought back guard Michael Schofield.

The Chargers also added a blocking tight end in Virgil Green to open lanes for Melvin Gordon and his colleagues.

The safety spot remains in flux. Tre Boston would like to return, but the parties haven’t found common ground. The Chargers did add free-agent safety Jaylen Watkins and retained Adrian Phillips.

Here is a closer look at where the Chargers are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.

THE BREAKDOWN

2017 finish: 2nd AFC West (9-7)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 376.6 (4th)

RUSHING: 99.7 (24th)

PASSING: 276.9 (1st)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 328.4 (15th)

RUSHING: 131.1 (31st)

PASSING: 197.3 (3rd)

TEAM NEEDS

  1. Defensive tackle: It’s easy to crow about what’s on the edges of the Chargers’ 4-3 alignment: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But a peek inside shows an aging Brandon Mebane and adequate mate in Corey Liuget. But with Liuget being out the first four games on a suspension and the Chargers sour on him to a degree anyway, a defensive tackle would be a nice fit. Imagine how effective Bosa and Ingram could be with some inside push.
  1. Inside linebacker: The Chargers were tough to pass against last year, but to run against? Not so much. Some of that has to do with the shortcomings in the previous regime, but it’s also a sign that the inside linebackers weren’t very stout. Denzel Perryman has some pop, but he’s not always on the field because of injuries. He needs some help, if nothing else, if the Chargers want to show a physical side on this side of the ball.
  1. Safety: Tre Boston was pretty solid last year after beating out incumbent Dwight Lowery in a spirited camp battle. But he’s hit the free-agent market and it appears the Chargers are waiting for someone else to set his price before they swoop in. If not, they do have Jaylen Watkins, but he was more of a part-time player with the Eagles with five starts in four years. This spot has yet to be dissolved.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

–S Adrian Phillips: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

–T Michael Schofield: Potential UFA; $5M/2 yrs, $2.5M fully guaranteed/$1M SB.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

–K Roberto Aguayo: FA; $555K/1 yr.

–TE Virgil Green: UFA Broncos; $8.6M/3 yrs, $5.9M fully guaranteed/$2.4M SB.

–C Mike Pouncey: FA Dolphins; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

–QB Geno Smith: UFA Giants; 1 yr, terms unknown.

–K Caleb Sturgis: UFA Eagles; $4.45M/2 yrs, $1M SB.

–S Jaylen Watkins: Not tendered as RFA by Eagles; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

–DE Jerry Attaochu: UFA 49ers; $3M/1 yr, $2.5M fully guaranteed/$1.5M SB.

–C/G Matt Slauson: UFA Colts; $2.5M/1 yr, $750K guaranteed RB.

–ILB Korey Toomer: UFA 49ers; 1 yr, terms unknown.

–G Kenny Wiggins: UFA Lions; $5M/2 yrs, $750K SB.

*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 17 overall)

Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):

–Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Veteran nose guard Brandon Mebane was a solid signing, but his best days are behind him. The Chargers — who ranked last in the league in 2017 by allowing 4.9 yards per carry — would likely jump at the chance to fortify the middle with the powerful (and aptly named) Payne.

Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):

–Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame. The Chargers focused on the interior offensive line in last year’s draft and could look to add youth at tackle this spring. McGlinchey can play tackle or guard and earn a starting spot from the get-go.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.

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