Fixing Chargers starts on O-line

The San Diego Chargers have started 2013 on the right foot by hiring general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy. Both men are considered among the best young, promising people in their position.

The fresh philosophy is a good start, but the Chargers need to replenish their talent. It starts on the offensive line. The Chargers have been ravaged by injuries and bad luck on the offensive line. Fixing the unit is the top priority of the offseason.

There has been speculation that the team may move to a zone-blocking scheme because new offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has a background in it. If that is the case, expect the Chargers to seek smaller, more athletic offensive lineman.

Let’s take a look at who the San Diego offensive line shakes out:

Tackles: The left tackle position is the Chargers’ greatest need. Jared Gaither was signed to a big contract last season, but he can’t be counted on because of injury concerns. The Chargers will almost certainly move away from him. Finding a left tackle will be a top priority either in free agency or with the No. 11 pick in the draft. Right tackle Jeromey Clary isn’t a top level right tackle, but the Chargers can get by with him. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team tries to find a better option.

Guards: Starters Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green are both free agents. Vasquez is a priority. Green is an average starter. Keeping Vasquez is needed, and then the Chargers can make a decision on Green. But upgrading there would be beneficial. A possible target could be Buffalo’s Andy Levitre. He will be sought after, but he could want to reunite with his former position coach. It could affect Vasquez if the zone-blocking scheme is the direction the Chargers are taking. He doesn’t fit the mold of an ideal player for that scheme.

Center: Nick Hardwick is still a plus player. He is 31, but he is a solid starter along with Vasquez.

The team has a chance to improve, but getting better protection for quarterback Philip Rivers is paramount, starting at left tackle and perhaps, at least, one more starting spot on the line.