Chargers QB talk just talk?

The buzzword for the San Diego Chargers in conversation is quarterback, but behind the scenes they are looking at, turning over and studying another position on the field intensely. While they have 60 interviews to play with, a good portion of them are spent on one area of the field that is in desperate need of an upgrade…

…the offensive line.

AJ Smith has created quite a stir among writers from all parts of the country with his latest outcry concerning quarterbacks.

But the truth is the team is looking at many of the offensive lineman in this years draft with the hopes of finding an anchor at left tackle.

The top guy on everyone's board is Robert Gallery. While he did not post the pure strength numbers many expected on the bench, he has wowed in every other category. His size, weight, athleticism and demeanor have made him a hot commodity.

"Fundamentals, including strength and quickness are all factors in determining which prospects is upper-echelon and what prospects is fringe, depth type players. When evaluating a player, such as Robert Gallery, you need to watch the films to see what he does well and what needs improved upon, like any other prospect," one player personnel evaluator said.

"With Gallery, here is a kid that has grown into the left tackle position and has the athletic ability to play the game at the highest level. He moves his feet well, from the waist down he could be stronger, which getting under a plan at the professional level should take care of, but when you watch him, he has tremendous hip-movement, he is controlled and he knows how to extend and use his arms to minimize leverage from an oncoming defensive lineman. Lifting a bar 24-26 times really is not a concern to us, the kid is in very good shape."

Nat Dorsey is also on the radar. The natural left tackle came in at the weight he said he would, 322 pounds, and looks to be in great shape. As one of the youngest juniors coming out, Dorsey has what is considered more room for growth.

The team views Dorsey as being mature. He does not have the weight concerns that Toniu Fonoti had when he entered the league at the tender age of twenty, and he has shown that he has the will to succeed by setting a weight goal and attaining it.

He also has immense talent. Had he stayed in school, Dorsey would have likely earned a top fifteen spot in the Draft, but after deliberating all season thought it was best to come out early. Above all, he is confident in his skills.

"I think I can (run block and pass block) equally," Dorsey said. "I'm pretty athletic, but my build would lead people to think pass protection, but I think I do both pretty good."

The Chargers are also mulling over Jacob Rogers, a three-year starter at left tackle for USC. He came into the combines strong as ever, 30 reps on the bench press. He is also came in lighter than he played, dropping some 20 pounds.

The concern on Rogers has been his upside potential. Not nearly as dominant as the top left tackles, Rogers could be effective at the point of attack with the right coaching. The Chargers believe they have that.

Vernon Carey has also drawn interest from the club. Listed as a guard, he believes he is still a right tackle unless told otherwise. His versatility is one of the main reasons the Chargers are enamored with him. With injuries forcing linemen out on a weekly basis, that versatility could earn him a spot on the team if the other tackles who dominate the left side are gone.

Stacey Andrews has climbed up the draft boards with a superb workout. A week before the combines, Andrews' agent, Rich Moran, told us that Stacey would surprise everyone and he has. The brother of Shawn, Stacey has climbed a good round or two. Coming into the combines his heart for football had been questioned, but he has since quelled such arguments.

"Stacy Andrews has the physical size and strength to be a player at the next level. The question remains, does he want to play in the NFL?" an AFC team scout said Thursday. "When he wants to play, he can dominate the opposition, at other times he appears uninterested, which has led to the time he spends on the bench.

"From our film-work and talking to his coaches down at Mississippi, Andrews is a kid that needs his fire lit at times, when he is motivated, he can be tough. Right now, Stacy is a late-round pick."

Stacey is just the type of player that Hudson Houck has been known to get the most out of. Houck believes he can spark his players and the results from the past two years, where the offensive line in San Diego has been shoddy at best, has been remarkable.

If Houck is ever able to up the talent level on the squad, he could build a line that would rival the Kansas City Chiefs in terms of dominance.

Franchise left tackles are a hot commodity in the NFL. Just ask Walter Jones who is on pace to be franchised for the third consecutive year. Most of the top left tackles have come in the first round of the draft.

The Chargers appear to be setting themselves up to take one by the top of the second round, that is if it isn't just another case of smoke and mirrors.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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