Everyone likes a GM who commits the team to ‘building through the draft.’ And then early March rolls around, and those same fans wonder why the team isn’t shelling out massive coin to the sexy free agents.
Well, Chargers fans, this is what building through the draft looks like.
Tom Telesco may take chances on a few more free agent signings as he digs himself out from under the financial rubble that is AJ Smith’s legacy. But, for now, he is seeking to re-sign proven Chargers commodities and add depth from the free agent wire, while counting on young talent to play right away.
When it works out, no one bats an eye. Telesco signed Chad Rinehart, Max Starks, and King Dunlap — unproven, over-the-hill, and inconsistent, respectively — in the hopes that they might plug the gaps in 2012’s leakiest unit. He added D.J. Fluker to the mix early in the Draft. The unit made the coaches’ decisions easy: Jeromey Clary slid over ably in place of the departed Louis Vazquez; Rinehart filled in at left guard; the wheels came off Max Starks in the preseason; King Dunlap showed signs of full-time ability; and Fluker held his own at right tackle. Combined with a new approach on offense, the unit was a strength in 2013.
This year, Telesco is hoping that he’s found a few uncut gems in the secondary that can buy him time to infuse the unit with young talent. Richard Marshall and Jahleel Addae will have to build on their strong play from last year. Steve Williams must return to health, and newcomer Brandon Ghee may have to do more than keep the training staff employed. If Telesco can add a contributor from this year’s draft class, the unit may soon be considered a strength. It won’t be pretty, but it may be effective.
Other notes on the week’s signings:
–David Johnson may see as many snaps as anyone the Chargers added this week. He moves more like a fullback than a tight end: he’s great blocking in short spaces, even to the second level, but he will never wow anyone with his athletic ability or speed down the seam. That said, he has soft hands in the passing game and is big and powerful enough at 6’2″, 260 to take on defensive ends (seriously). He adds thump in the running game and a lot of versatility to this offense overall. Chargers fans, think Brandon Manumaleuna.
–Hopefully, Kavell Conner sees limited snaps this year. If he does start, he’s not much of a drop-off from the number one. He can play a bit.
–The aforementioned Brandon Ghee is more of a gamble than either of the other two. He’s ripe with athletic talent, but in addition to his injury history, he’s looked lost at times in his young career. Ball skills don’t seem to be his forte.