Let me take a moment before I begin this article to thank a coach. I’m not talking about Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhunt, or Pagano. I’m talking about the one man who saved not only Philip Rivers’ life, but also Ryan Mathews’ body. I’m talking about the one and only, Joe D’Alessandris. For those of you who may not know, Coach Joe was hired last offseason to be the Chargers’ offensive-line coach. For a unit that was ranked last in nearly every single protection category, this seemed like a lost cause. The Chargers got rid of the sack-of-potatoes in Gaither, signed King Dunlap, drafted D.J. Fluker, and the offensive line produced into a formidable unit. How? How in the world did you take an offensive line where your best player is a 32-year-old center in Nick Hardwick or a rookie tackle in D.J. Fluker and turn them into a unit that doesn’t resemble blocking pads? Joe D’Alessandris.
I will later be writing on how exactly Coach Joe fixed the offensive line, but for now let’s talk about the needs the Chargers must address in this upcoming draft. Since Tom Telesco has come from the Ted Thompson tree of a draft-and-develop system, we can expect a lot from every draft. Especially with the success of last draft, with the rise of Keenan Allen, Fluker, and even Manti Te’o and Tourek Williams at times, the fans saw that Telesco does have an eye for talent.
Cornerbacks: The cornerbacks last year for the Chargers were by far and away the worst unit of the defense. Shareece Wright and Derek Cox were not good in man coverage and even worse when it came to zone. They struggled at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, and while Wright showed significant improvement at the end of the year, Cox found himself on the bench and eventually cut. The Chargers may be able to improve with another year of Wright and Richard Marshall, but this is a must-address position in the draft.
Strong Safety: Let’s be frank, the only strong spot in the secondary was All-Pro free safety, Eric Weddle. Without Weddle, this secondary would have been an even bigger nightmare. Marcus Gilchrist wasn’t great at strong safety and later in the year his move back to nickel corner definitely improved the defense. The rise of Jahleel Addae will be one of the most compelling stories entering 2014, but even if Addae ends up being a stud, the Bolts will still need to draft depth at the position.