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2017 NFL Draft, Los Angeles Chargers: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

2017 NFL Draft Reset: Chargers really a team on the move

By
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers (17) passes in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California on December 24, 2015. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 23-20 in overtime. File photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers (17) passes in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California on December 24, 2015. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 23-20 in overtime. File photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

The Los Angeles Chargers were a team on the move this offseason, and that goes beyond moving from San Diego.

Stung by consecutive last-place finishes and a combined nine wins the past two seasons, the Chargers unveiled their vision of spring cleaning.

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Shown the door include these starters from last year -- linebacker Manti Te'o, left tackle King Dunlap, wide receiver Stevie Johnson, right guard D.J. Fluker and cornerback Brandon Flowers.

The Chargers' revolving door wasn't just spitting players out. Russell Okung, the former Bronco, will replace Dunlap at left tackle. Safety Jahleel Addae and running back Branden Oliver were retained.

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And in possibly the team's most important move, the franchise tag was slapped on pass-rusher Melvin Ingram. The outside linebacker will be paired with Joey Bosa, the NFL defensive rookie of the year, for the foreseeable future.

Head coach Anthony Lynn is anxious to see what the pair can do in new coordinator Gus Bradley's fresh 4-3 alignment.

"Knowing Gus's system and attacking style that we are going to play, those are two really good options," Lynn said. "You really can't slide the line in protection one way because the other guy is just as good. That is going to help our defense a lot."

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Among the things still on Lynn's wish list is an impact player at safety.

"There are some good safeties coming out," Lynn said. "I like Jamal Adams (LSU). I like (Jabrill) Peppers (Michigan). He could be a nice safety in the National Football League. Obi (Melifonwu), the young man from Connecticut, has a nice presence down in the box as a strong safety. (There are) some talented safeties.

"(Peppers) plays so many positions, I believe if you put him at one position he can be a superstar. It is just that simple. He has been a superstar his whole life. I don't think it is going to stop because of the National Football League."

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After missing the playoffs six of the last seven years, and now posing as the second-tier team in Los Angeles behind the populist Rams, the Chargers very much need to get back to postseason play in the first year and the second stint in L.A.

Here is a closer look at where the Chargers are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, at No. 7 overall.

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THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 4th AFC West (5-11)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 356.8 (14th)

RUSHING: 94.4 (26th)

PASSING: 262.4 (8th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 347.1 (16th)

RUSHING: 97.9 (10th)

PASSING: 249.2 (20th)

TEAM NEEDS

1. Offensive line: Russell Okung fills a big void with the release of left tackle King Dunlap. But the Chargers could also be seeking to upgrade the right tackle spot. Joe Barksdale as missed but one start in two seasons, but he's also been beat too much on the edge. Inside, the right guard spot must be addressed with the D.J. Fluker not being brought back. The Chargers do have some depth inside, but that doesn't mean they won't be looking to upgrade the roster, especially with new coach Lynn Anthony's preference for running the ball.

2. Wide receiver: Keenan Allen is an emerging star -- if he can stay on the field. That has been an issue for two straight seasons so can the Chargers really count on him to be availability with regularity in 2017? There fingers are crossed but the will also look for some more depth. Tyrell Williams became a 1,000-yard receiver last year and that was a pleasant surprise. But there isn't much behind him, especially with Stevie Johnson not being retained.

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3. Defensive end: The Chargers are ditching their 3-4 alignment in favor of new coordinator Gus Bradley's 4-3 approach. But to implement it, Bradley is going to need some more defensive ends. This position needs more talent and bodies as the team makes the switch. Some outside linebackers, like Joey Bosa, can drop down and play end. But there is only one true defensive end, Darius Philon, on the roster.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

SS Jahleel Addae: Potential UFA; $22.5M/4 yrs, $2M SB/$3.5M guaranteed, $2M injury only at time of signing.

QB Kellen Clemens: UFA; $1.08/1 yr, $80K SB.

RB Branden Oliver: Not tendered as RFA; terms un known.

DT Tenny Palepoi: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

NT Damion Square: UFA; $4M/2 yrs, $1.22M SB.

G/T Kenny Wiggins: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

LS Mike Windt: UFA; $4.41M/4 yrs, $620K guaranteed.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

RB Kenjon Barner: Not tendered as RFA by Eagles; terms unknown.

T Russell Okung: UFA Broncos; $53M/4 yrs, $10M SB/$25M guaranteed.

PLAYERS LOST

WR Jeremy Butler: Not tendered as ERFA/Bills; $625K/1 yr.

T King Dunlap (released).

CB Brandon Flowers (released).

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G/T D.J. Fluker (released).

LB Brock Hekking (released/failed physical).

WR Stevie Johnson (released).

LB Manti Te'o: UFA Saints; $5M/2 yrs, $600K SB.

RB Danny Woodhead: UFA Ravens; $8.8M/3 yrs, $2.25M SB/$4.25M guaranteed, $1M injury only at time of signing.

MOCK DRAFT

NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 7 overall)

Rob Rang:

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. The Chargers won big with Joey Bosa a year ago and could see another Buckeye as an ideal replacement for Eric Weddle, whom the club clearly missed in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Hooker possesses the range and ball skills to complement the Chargers' small but physical cornerbacks.

Dane Brugler:

Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State. Despite not being able to work out pre-draft due to injury, Hooker is absolutely worth a top-seven selection with his ability to impact the game in the deep half of the field. He is the playmaker the Chargers have been hoping to add on the back end.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team's current status, there are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate check out NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.

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--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.

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