Coming off a 12-4 season in 2018, the Chargers tied for the top record in the AFC and proved the window to contend for a Championship with franchise quarterback Phillip Rivers is wide open. With Rivers now 37 years old, the window could diminish quickly and making sure the infrastructure around him is sound should be a priority to maximize the opportunity. There is no need greater than fortifying the offensive line for Los Angeles to secure with its remaining assets this off season and the coming NFL Draft presents a great opportunity to do so.
Rivers’ astute ability to hit throws with anticipation and get the ball out of his hands quickly helps mask some of the weak links up front, but improving the offensive line talent keeps him upright and helps improve an average rushing attack. Sam Tevi is the incumbent starter at right tackle, who is upgradeable and the draft provides a deep pool of prospects that could improve the tackle spot opposite of Russell Okung. Let’s examine three options that would make sense.
Dalton Risner, Kansas State
A four-year starter in college, Risner is an easy projection to the next level where his blend of power, technique and mobility pop when studying his tape. A three-time first-team All-Big Twelve selection, Risner was named the conferences Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year for his senior campaign.
While I like him best at right tackle, Risner has the ability to play all five positions up front, offering rare versatility. Risner has been incredibly consistent throughout his career and checks so many boxes teams are looking for in offensive line prospects. Offensive linemen are rarely as “plug-and-play” as we expect them to be but Risner truly offers that potential.
Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
Every team wants blockers up front that are athletic, powerful and block with an edge - that's Cajuste. A 30-game starter at West Virginia, Cajuste capped his career by receiving Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year honors.
There is some technical development needed for Cajuste, but his foot speed, anchor, long arms, functional power and nasty demeanor serve as a strong foundation for him to build upon. Cajuste is a multifaceted blocker that offers high-impact upside and production on the move, in pass pro and blasting open holes in the run game.
Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
Playing for arguably the best offensive line and offense in college football, I have no idea why there isn’t more buzz around Evans. A 40-game starter for the Sooners, Evans has spent time at both left and right tackle and he features a loaded toolbox of traits.
I personally love how dominant he is with his hands which blends nicely with his length, mobility, core strength and tenacious style of play. There is some development needed with his footwork, particularly with his kickslide and set points in pass protection but Evans would be a wonderful Day Two selection.