San Diego Chargers 2016 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs

Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. Today, the San Diego Chargers are the focus.

To say the Chargers 2015 season was a disappointment would be a lackluster and unimaginative journalistic statement, Conversely, calling them a roaring dumpster fire would be cliché and off-the-mark. The 2015 Chargers were a delicious tuna steak seasoned with garlic, thyme, lemon juice and diced almond and served with scrumptious steamed asparagus, that was then left to spoil in the southern California sun for five weeks. In need of a new entrée, the Chargers, armed with the third overall pick in the draft, turn their eyes to the draft.

San Diego Chargers 2016 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs

Offensive Line

This could be entries one, two and three on this list. The lone bright spot on this much maligned unit was the discovery of Trevor Robinson at center. Robinson has been falsely blamed for the offensive lines’ woes, but simple film study reveals he was by far the best blocker the Bolts employed last year. His transformation from former undrafted free-agent and Cincinnati Bengals castoff to starting center means one starting spot accounted for. Unfortunately that still leaves left tackle, left guard, right guard, and right tackle in need of serious improvement.

With the third pick in this year’s draft the Chargers should bolt to the podium to take former Ole Mill offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who is widely regarded as the top offensive lineman in the draft. Tunsil brings surprising agility, quickness, and length to the blindside that this unit has sorely lacked. Barring a trade down later into the first round the third pick would be too early to select Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame or Taylor Decker of Ohio State. A third-to-fourth round option for the Chargers would be Tunsil’s teammate at Ole Miss Fahn Cooper. Cooper has good size and strength at the position and can play both left or right tackle for the Bolts.


Jason Verrett has emerged as a Pro Bowl cornerback, but the rest of the players at this position need serious work. Brandon Flowers was middling at best, and no one else made much of a positive impact in 2015. Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey would make sense as the third pick, even if his best position may be safety. He does have elite size and athletic ability.

Should the Chargers choose to address offensive line in round one, they could turn to Xavien Howard out of Baylor in the second or third round to give them a perfect compliment to Jason Verrett in their defensive backfield. Howard is a big, tough corner who can play the run and pass, and has very quick feet and good change of direction ability that would help the Chargers blanket both sides of the field.

Defensive End

Brandon Mebane was brought in to play nose tackle, but the Chargers need more pressure up front. Allow me to present Oregon’s DeForest Buckner for the third pick in the draft. Buckner has ridiculous length and a quick first step while weighing in at almost 290 pounds and is a natural 3-4 defensive end.

If San Diego chooses a defensive end later in the draft, they’d be hard pressed to find a better alternative to Utah’s Jason Fanaika. Fanaika is surprisingly agile for 3-4 defensive end with sophisticated pass-rush techniques and a high motor. He’s coming off a strong Senior Bowl performance and could be gone by the third round.