It is draft week in the NFL, so a lot of craziness is expected not only this week but during the draft as well. The Los Angeles Chargers have the 13th overall selection. If they want their offense to take the next level, they shouldn't stay there.
There has been a trend from the team since free agency. Maybe even before then, the Chargers knew they had to fix their offensive line. Quarterback Justin Herbert was sacked 32 times in his first season.
Even with all of the mishaps from the offensive line last year, Herbert broke numerous rookie records and scored 36 touchdowns. Imagine him with a top ten offensive line? Fuego.
The Chargers signed potentially three starters for the offensive line a right guard, all-pro center, and left guard. They already have a right tackle. So, they are missing a left tackle.
So, what must be done?
They will need to trade up. There are two top tackles in the draft in Oregon's Penei Sewell and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater, then there is a bit of a drop-off. The Chargers may need to trade up.
For which one?
Many draft experts have deemed Sewell as the best offensive lineman. He also has a relationship with Herbert. They both went to Oregon, and their relationship has grown tremendously.
"He's a really special player, and being able to watch him over the past three or four years," Herbert said. "He's about as good as it gets, and he's a special player. He's a great man off the field. So, we've gotten really close over the past couple of years. So, regardless of where he goes, I'm a big fan of his."
The media spoke to Sewell after his pro day a couple of weeks ago. So, has he spoken to the Chargers?
"I've been talking to the Chargers…conversations have been made," said Sewell with a huge smile.
The smile of Sewell was interesting because it was like he knew something, or maybe he would love to block for Herbert.
Sewell sat out the 2020 season due to the pandemic, so he decided to work on himself and look towards the draft. The last time he played in a real game was in the Rose Bowl of 2020, with Herbert as his quarterback.
What would it mean to have that same quarterback as his NFL quarterback?
"To block for Herb again, man," said Sewell. "I think it's another dream and another, I guess a vision that would be fun, just like you said I blocked for Herb throughout this whole time I've been here in Oregon, and to have that chance, again to share the same field as him would be a dream come true."
So obviously, Sewell has spoken to the Chargers. Have Herbert and Sewell kept close contact?
"He's really busy," said Herbert. "So, I've kind of sent him a couple texts here and there. We've talked a little bit. But I know what it's like last year and going into this process. You're really busy, and you know, I've told him anything he ever needs, I'd love to help him out."
One person that knows Sewell well is former UCLA head coach Jim Mora. He is an analyst for SI, and he said he understands the Oregon left tackle pretty well.
"I recruited him out of high school, and it was very obvious then that he was special," said Mora. "He's been well-coached at Oregon. Mario Cristobal (Oregon head coach) is an offensive line coach made his money this way. So, you're getting a guy that's ready to play. Then it gives them a guy that's going to protect Justin for years and years and years. I think Justin would probably like that."
The Chargers have their franchise quarterback now they need their franchise left tackle. In 2006, then general manager AJ Smith knew his young quarterback Philip Rivers needed a left tackle. He drafted Marcus McNeill from Auburn in the second round. That solidified the Chargers offensive line.
The Cincinnati Bengals control everything right now at number five. If they pass on Sewell and draft LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and the Miami Dolphins go another route too than the Chargers need to get on the phone.
If general manager Tom Telesco ends up moving up, it probably would cost him one of his third-rounders this year and a 2022 first-round draft pick because he would be moving from 13th to 7th overall. It is a risk that he needs to take to really solidify his offensive line for the 2021 season.
"He's a guy that you can plug and play," said Mora. "He's going to be there forever. He's going to be in the Charger Hall of Fame, he may someday be in the NFL Hall of Fame, you know, assuming that he stays healthy, and he continues to develop, and he performs like he did in 2019 and 18 in Oregon. The guy's a tremendous player."