LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Chargers addressed most of their needs during the 2020 NFL Draft, adding a prospect they believe can grow into a franchise quarterback, bolstering the linebacking corps, and adding depth at receiver and in the offensive and defensive backfields. However, the team did not acquire any reinforcements along the offensive line, an area decimated by injuries last season and one with few proven options behind the starters.
Yet, despite not drafting any offensive linemen in the draft, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco feels comfortable with the depth he currently has.
"We have some people in-house that we like," Telesco said following the draft. "The offense is going to change a little bit for how we do some things. I think it's going to fit a little better with some of the guys that we have. We're going to see how it plays out. The draft is what it is. I wish I had 20 draft picks and they were all in the top three rounds, but that's not how it works. It just kind of falls the way it falls."
Telesco invested considerable resources into the offensive line this offseason. He traded for Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner and signed offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga in free agency, filling two huge holes for the foreseeable future.
At the same time, the deal to acquire Turner cost the Chargers veteran left tackle Russell Okung, leaving Trey Pipkins, Sam Tevi, and Trent Scott competing for his job. Meanwhile, starting center Mike Pouncey has yet to receive full medical clearance to return to the field, potentially forcing Dan Feeney to shift back to center or force Scott Quessenberry to take over at the pivot until further notice.
With those concerns, the Chargers could have benefited from adding an offensive lineman during the draft. Instead, they turned their picks in the first, second, and third round into Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert and Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. Herbert will eventually ascend as the team's starter behind center while Murray adds athleticism and play-making to the middle of the defense. Given the departure of Philip Rivers and the need for more juice in the linebacking corps, those picks make sense.
At the same time, few would have batted an eyelash had the Chargers used an early pick on an offensive tackle. Telesco admits that could have happened, but the draft just didn't unfold that way.
"If there were someone in the draft we liked, in the spot we were or somewhere near it, it certainly would have been a possibility -- but your draft board is what your draft board is," Telesco said. "We're not going to manufacture players, either"
Opting to take a less talented player due to positional need might address a problem in the present, but it can lead to issues in the long term. Telesco clearly has no interest in taking shortcuts when constructing the roster. And while some mid- and late-round offensive linemen will inevitably develop into starters, they probably won't help their team in 2020 regardless. The Chargers still have time to add depth through free agency if they determine the line needs more competition.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH