Here are five top lessons learned about the Bolts after a week in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine:
1. NFL is Bullish on the Bolts – Before diving into draft analysis, it’s imperative to point out how high the entire league is on the Chargers heading into 2018. Other teams in last year’s postseason repeated how relieved they were the Bolts just missed out on the playoffs, confident they were primed to make a run to the Super Bowl. Pundits believe they are the class of the AFC West, while others think they should be considered an elite team in the conference. Of course, it is only March and we are six months away from a single game being played. So much will occur between now and the start of the 2018 campaign that it’s important to take this praise with a grain of salt. However, there’s no denying that the entire league is bullish on the Bolts.
2. To Draft a QB or Not to Draft a QB – That is the question. It’s one General Manager Tom Telesco has heard all six offseasons he’s been with the Chargers, and it’s only natural considering Philip Rivers will turn 37 next season. The consensus among most pundits is that the Bolts would be wise to add a young quarterback to the roster this offseason. However, they are all equally adamant that Rivers is nowhere near finished. In fact, any young QB the team drafts will likely sit for a number of years considering number 17 is showing no signs of slowing down. After all, with Rivers at the helm, the Bolts boasted the league’s number one passing offense a year ago. Finally, it’s also worth noting that Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn had high praise for one young quarterback in particular. He also happens to already be on the roster – Cardale Jones. This will be a big offseason for the 25-year old who was thrown into the fire immediately last year after being acquired days before training camp commenced.
3. Bolts Already Hit a Home Run in Free Agency – No, we aren’t talking about any players. After all, free agency won’t commence for another week. However, the team locked up two of the most important people in the building whose contracts were up in Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley. According to pundits, those two moves were absolute home runs that if didn’t get done, would have set the team back. These same media members were quick to point out how impressed they were by Head Coach Anthony Lynn’s progression throughout his first year in charge. They also said having the coordinators back with Lynn for another year provides the stability needed for the franchise’s continued growth.
4. Where Improvement is Necessary – While most are high on the Bolts, there is one area pundits universally agree must improve. That’s a run defense that finished toward the bottom of the league in yards against. It’s an area that Telesco and Lynn also agreed must improve with both men stating they are aggressively looking at ways to shore it up. It remains to be seen whether that means through the draft or free agency, but the depth along the interior defensive line as well at linebacker is considered one of the strengths of the draft.
5. Mystery Men – Draft experts have given up trying to guess who the Bolts will select. Telesco and company always keep their hands close to their vest as few knew of their interest in Joey Bosa and Mike Williams in recent years. Thus, if you ask 10 different pundits who they think the Chargers will select 17th overall, you may end up with 10 different answers. Still, some of the names most often linked to L.A. include S Derwin James, DT Vita Vea and DT Da’Ron Payne.
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