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2013 NFL Draft primer: San Diego Chargers

Florida State defensive back Xavier Rhodes stands on

Florida State defensive back Xavier Rhodes stands on the field during the second half of the Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois. (Jan. 1, 2013) Credit: AP

The future stars of the NFL are almost here. The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 11th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2012 record: 7-9

Key offseason acquisitions:

Derek Cox, cornerback

Danny Woodhead, running back

King Dunlap, tackle

Chad Rinehart, guard

Mike McCoy, head coach

Key offseason departures:

Antoine Cason, cornerback

Quentin Jammer, cornerback

Jared Gaither, tackle

Louis Vazquez, guard

Antonio Garay, defensive tackle

Aubrayo Franklin, defensive tackle

Shaun Phillips, linebacker

Takeo Spikes, linebacker

Antwan Barnes, linebacker

Norv Turner, head coach

Biggest holes in roster: Offensive lineman, cornerback, wide receiver, inside linebacker

For teams such as the Arizona Cardinals or the Kansas City Chiefs - those who filled more holes than they lost in free agency - there are teams such as the San Diego Chargers.

A team that already had its fair share of issues entering the offseason, the Chargers only added to their shopping list by letting some key players walk and cutting others. Most of San Diego's free-agent signings were relatively minor - ex-Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox was the closest to being considered "big." Unfortunately, the Chargers are in an awkward spot in the draft - too far back to draft an elite player at a main position of need, but too far up to draft most second-tier players.

Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times in 2012, only two behind Aaron Rodgers for most in the NFL. As a team, those 49 sacks were the fourth-most in the league. All of that was before Jared Gaither was cut and Louis Vasquez joined the Broncos.

The Chargers desperately need to address their offensive line, but they may not get a chance to do so in the first round. Barring a trade up, the Chargers will probably miss out on the Big Three tackles (Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson) and top guard Chance Warmack, There's only a slim chance that North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper falls to this point. Alabama's D.J. Fluker will be available, but he projects as more of a right tackle. It may be best for the Chargers to wait until the middle rounds to shore up the offensive line (yet another Alabama lineman, Barrett Jones, could be their man in the second round).

Even if San Diego addresses their offensive line woes later in the draft, they could use a few more pass-catching weapons for Rivers. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and West Virginia's Tavon Austin are options here, but the Chargers can go elsewhere in the first round and still pick up a solid late-round option such as Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers or Oklahoma's Kenny Stills.

So now we turn to the defense. San Diego lost both of their starting cornerbacks in Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer, but picked up Cox. They could use another cornerback, but Dee Milliner should be gone by this pick. If a team such as the Jets or Titans doesn't take Xavier Rhodes before San Diego picks, the Chargers would have to think long and hard about taking him. Rhodes is a big corner who can get physical with his receiver as well as make plays on the ball. Washington's Desmond Trufant may be an option if Rhodes isn't available, though he'd probably be a reach at 11.

The Chargers lost two of their starting linebackers (Shaun Phillips, Takeo Spikes) plus backup Antwan Barnes. Melvin Ingram, a 2012 first-rounder, may be ready to take over Phillips' spot, but they could still use one more pass-rusher. LSU's Barkevious Mingo, if he's available, would be a good fit. He clocked a 4.58 40 at the Combine and has the flexibility to play both on the line and in coverage. Georgia's Jarvis Jones is also worth a look if Mingo is gone by this point.

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