Are you ready for some football?
While there will not be any actual action on the field starting today (May 8), there will be a ton of action off the field as the NFL kicks off the 2014 Draft. For San Diego Charger fans, that means being glued to their televisions or online devices to see who the Bolts select, hoping that each of the players can add some of the missing pieces to a team that went to the playoffs this past season for the first time in four years.
Heading into this year's event, the Chargers are slated to pick at the 25th spot. Okay, you're not going to get the cream of the crop (Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Johnny Manziel etc.) at that position of course, but there will still be a sizable percentage of talented players available after the first 24 selections.
With that in mind, what are the greatest needs for the Chargers going into the 2014 campaign?
After a solid season a year ago, a season in which the Bolts made it to the AFC playoffs (won at Cincinnati, lost at Denver), swept rival Kansas City and gave rival Denver all it wanted in three meetings, the expectations are higher this fall.
Targeting the secondary
As any Charger fan knows, San Diego's pass defense in 2013 was nothing short of hideous at times.
In order to address the secondary woes this time around, the Bolts could go after the likes of Ohio State's Bradley Roby, TCU's Jason Verrett or Virginia Tech product Kyle Fuller. While the last two battled injuries in their college days, one of them could possibly step right in and contribute this fall.
It is also no surprise around the league that San Diego's pass rush is less than stellar. Stop and think for a moment about who was really the last great pass rusher to wear the blue and gold. If you go all the way back to Shawne Merriman, you win a prize. While Merriman was certainly not the late/great Junior Seau, he was someone that opposing offenses had to account for each and every time he was on the field.
If the Chargers go after help in that area, the names of Ryan Shazier (Ohio State), Anthony Barr (UCLA) or Khalil Mack (Buffalo) could be called, though most analysts have Mack going in the Top 10, meaning San Diego would likely have to trade up to nab him.
Don't forget the offense
On the offensive side of the ball, San Diego is in relatively good shape at both the wide receiver/tight end and running back positions. Having had a number of woes on the offensive line in recent years, the Bolts could target someone like Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio or Notre Dame product Zack Martin. There are several other offensive line options, though the Bolts would once again have to move up into the Top 10 in order to secure one of those players.
Lastly, is it ever a bad time to draft a quarterback?
Yes, Philip Rivers continues to be the heart and soul of the team, but he's certainly not getting any younger. While getting Kellen Clemens (Rams) was a good insurance policy in the off-season, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Bolts were looking at drafting and developing Rivers' successor in a few years.
Among the possible options if the Chargers go in the quarterback area include Fresno State product Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger of LSU.