After the New England Patriots selected Alabama running back Mark Ingram with the 17th pick, the San Diego Chargers now take their turn on the clock with the 18th overall selection. But at this stage in the draft, we find ourselves in uncharted territory.
To date, no offensive linemen have been selected. If this were to hold true, it would make NFL Draft history. Since the inaugural draft in 1936, the latest that the first offensive lineman has been selected was in 1987, when John Clay was chosen 15th overall. In recent history, only once since 2000 has an offensive lineman failed to be picked in the top ten. So perhaps the slide for the big uglies continues all the way to the 20's, or perhaps the Chargers decide the value for a top-grade protector is too good to pass up.
But the Chargers have many more pressing needs than the offensive line. Despite ending 2010 with the No. 1 ranked offense and defense, the Chargers failed to make the postseason for the first time since 2005 (they also had a historically inept special teams). Perhaps the team's most pressing concern is a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Larry English was drafted in the first round in 2009 to be the heir apparent to the now-departed Shawne Merriman, but English has disappointed, notching only five sacks in two years. The Chargers haven't given up on English, but they wouldn't mind bringing in another talented youngster to foster competition. Along those lines, Missouri's Aldon Smith, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Georgia's Justin Houston could all be considered options.
Up front, there is a need for a 3-4 defensive end with Jacques Cesaire nearing the end of the road and set to be a free agent. The draft's premier player at that position, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, is off the board, but there is growing buzz that Ohio State's Cameron Heyward could be a perfect fit in San Diego. Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson is another option at the position.
On offense, wide receiver could be the team's biggest glaring hole, though Phillip Rivers has certainly proved that he can get it done with whoever the Chargers throw out wide. Combine that with a lack of a true No. 3 wide receiver in the draft class, and it would be surprising to see the Chargers pull the trigger on wideout at this selection.
With growing pressure on head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith, this is a very important pick for the Chargers. Who will they select? You decide.
Needs: OLB, DE, WR
All-Good: QB, TE, RB
Previous PicksNo. 1 - Carolina: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
No. 2 - Denver: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
No. 3 - Buffalo: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
No. 4 - Cincinnati: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
No. 5 - Arizona: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
No. 6 - Cleveland: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
No. 7 - San Francisco: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
No. 8 - Tennessee: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
No. 9 - Dallas: DE Cameron Jordan, California
No. 10 - Washington: QB Jake Locker, Washington
No. 11 - Houston: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
No. 12 - Minnesota: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
No. 13 - Detroit: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
No. 14 - St. Louis: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
No. 15 - Miami: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
No. 16 - Jacksonville: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
No. 17 - New England: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama