It won’t surprise NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock if the Chargers use their first round pick on an offensive lineman next Saturday. He thinks running back makes a lot of sense as well. Maybe outside linebacker, maybe inside linebacker.
“I don’t think they have any one way where they’re saying, ‘We have to go in that direction,’” Mayock said Wednesday during a conference call.
Mayock sees the Chargers as a team that has some needs but not any glaring holes to address with the 16th overall pick in next weekend’s draft. That’s why he can make the case for San Diego going in many different directions.
“I think offensive line is an issue right now,” Mayock said. “They might want to upgrade the right side. After that, the whole running back thing is intriguing to me, whether or not they would use a first round pick on (Georgia’s) Knowshon Moreno. I think the safety situation (could be addressed) at some point.”
As he anticipates how the first half of the first round will pan out, Mayock sees the top four offensive tackles on his board – Virginia’s Eugene Monroe, Mississippi’s Michael Oher, Alabama’s Andre Smith, Baylor’s Jason Smith – unavailable by the time the Chargers are on the clock.
He doesn’t think the Chargers will take a safety with the 16th overall choice, and with Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji likely gone at 16, that brings Mayock back to running back and linebacker.
“They’ve got to be thinking about Knowshon Moreno,” Mayock said. “It’s too early for a safety. It’s too early for any of those nose tackles and then I think the outside linebacker issue comes into play. Merriman with one year left on his contract and the injury, would they take a rush linebacker at that point?”
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“I think it’s a little bit early for Maualuga, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they went in that direction,” Mayock said. “He certainly fits the profile.”
Regardless of whom the Chargers pick, Mayock thinks they’re in a good spot to get value for their pick. Mayock said Tuesday that every team in the top 10 of the draft would love to trade down because of the quality of players available as well as the high salary the top picks demand.
“Teams are looking to get down 15-25 because you can get the same kind of player at 20 as you can at seven and you pay one-third the money,” Mayock said.