Fluker's Versatility Creates O-Line Options

The Chargrs have a decision to make with D.J. Fluker: Do they keep him at right tackle or slide him inside to guard? But there is no rush to make that decision. Fluker's versatility gives GM Tom Telesco more options in free agency and the NFL Draft.

It is no secret the Chargers need help on the offensive line. First and foremost, the team must re-sign starting left tackle King Dunlap, who has quietly emerged as the anchor of the offensive line. After that, Telesco will go in search of outside reinforcements.

The search will begin in free agency. There are a few offensive tackles available who could represent major upgrades for the Chargers, including Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay), Michael Roos (Tennessee) and Doug Free (Dallas). Byron Bell (Carolina) could also be a consideration. The Chargers will have to do their homework, as Roos and Free are both coming off injuries, but if healthy they would be surefire starters in San Diego.

If the Chargers sign one of these tackles, they can move Fluker inside to left guard and instantly upgrade two-fifths of the offensive line.

"I think [Fluker] would be a pretty good guard, I really do," Telesco said. "He's a talented player. His future is probably at right tackle or guard."

The other option, of course, is to leave Fluker at tackle and target a guard in free agency. The top name on the market is San Francisco's Mike Iupati, a classic road grader who could provide an instant boost to San Diego's struggling running game. The catch is that Iupati will cost a lot; he will likely become the highest paid guard in league history. Not only that, but the Chargers would have to substantially outbid the 49ers to convince Iupati to relocate.

"It's going to suck if I do go somewhere else," he said. "This is my home. I really want to stay here and I'm sure we'll try to work something out."

Two other free-agent guards that make a lot of sense are Erik Pears (Buffalo) and Daryn Colledge (Miami). If the Chargers sign one of them, it could also impact the future of Chris Watt, who can play guard or center. If San Diego is not convinced Watt is ready to be the everyday center, it could target Colledge's Miami teammate, Samson Satele.

Said Telesco of Watt: "He can play either guard or center. It's up to us to decide where his best spot is for our team. Those are things we'll talk about this offseason. Some of those things may depend on who's on the offensive line and where."

Whatever offensive line holes the Chargers do not fill in free agency, the team will look to plug in the NFL Draft. The team could address the offensive tackle position as early as the first round, with candidates including Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M), Ereck Flowers (Miami), T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) and La'El Collins (LSU), the latter of whom is similar in style to Fluker.

Guards who could step in and start from Opening Day include Arie Kouandjio (Alabama), A.J. Cann (South Carolina) and the Florida State duo of Josue Matias and Tre Jackson. None of them are likely to make it past the third round, however.

If the Chargers choose to draft a natural center to compete with Watt, options include Hroniss Grasu (Oregon) and Reese Dismukes (Auburn). Another interesting name is Nick Martin, the younger brother of Cowboys 2014 first-round pick Zack Martin and a former college teammate of Watt and Trevor Robinson.

Prospects to watch in the middle rounds include OT Brandon Shell (South Carolina), OG Shaq Mason (Georgia Tech) and C Jake Smith (Louisville).

What is D.J. Fluker's best position? Join the debate inside our new message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com team. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since '03. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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