SAN DIEGO -- Revamping an offensive line that struggled to stay healthy in 2015 will be a top priority for general manager Tom Telesco, head coach Mike McCoy and new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson during the offseason.
The good: Barksdale is the only offensive linemen to start every game for the Chargers in 2015, playing a total of 1,050 snaps on offense, second only to QB Philip Rivers (1,085). It’s the most snaps played in a single season by a San Diego offensive linemen since at least 2007, which is as far back as ESPN Stats & Information has been tracking those stats. Barksdale also played in 16 games for a third straight season. He provides versatility, spending time at right tackle, left tackle and right guard for the Chargers last year. Hairston’s effort playing in 739 snaps last season was commendable considering he was injured most of the 2015 season. He also showed versatility, playing both guard and tackle positions. Although the Chargers gave up 40 sacks, the offense’s sack-per-dropback rate was in the middle of the pack for the league, which isn’t bad considering the Chargers had the most passing attempts in the NFL last season.
The bad: The Chargers used 24 different offensive line combinations in 2015, fourth-most in the NFL. Dunlap and Franklin played a combined six games together as starters and made $19 million in 2015. San Diego averaged a league-worst 3.46 yards per carry last season, and a lot of that started up front. The Chargers failed to consistently control the line of scrimmage on offense, and it’s the reason San Diego threw the ball 63 percent of the time last year. The Chargers have to figure out a consistent way to run the football in 2016, which could mean employing more zone blocking schemes that fit second-year running back Melvin Gordon's skill set.
The money: Franklin is due $5.5 million in guaranteed compensation in 2016, while Dunlap is scheduled to make $4.5 million in guaranteed compensation for the upcoming season, so the left side of San Diego’s offensive line is not going anywhere. Barksdale and Hairston earned new deals with their play last season, and should be under consideration by Chargers’ brass to re-sign with the team. If the Chargers do not think Watt is the long-term answer at center, they should consider adding a center in free agency to anchor the offensive line.
Draft priority: Necessary. I like Burwell and Huey as developmental prospects, but the Chargers need to add more young talent to the position group through the draft. Someone like Temple interior linemen Kyle Friend could make sense as a selection in the mid-to-late rounds. Or the Chargers could look to address the position early in the draft with someone like Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil at No. 3.