The Thin Line

The draft is over. The images of Eli Manning looking to all the world like someone had just shot his dog and then run it over a few dozen time with a tractor trailer when the San Diego Chargers called his name have faded to memory. All in all the Chargers had a good draft. They got a franchise quarterback, an upgrade in the kicking game, and a gigantic Russian that eats backs, quarter and running. But there is one thing I'm forgetting.

They also got an additional first round pick next year and still have the possibility of nabbing a top-flight receiver if the NFL holds a supplemental draft. Nope, that wasn't it. I know there's one little thing that seems to have slipped my mind. But what can it be?

Oh, Yeah! Someone to keep our franchise quarterback upright and open holes for our all-universe running back. An offensive tackle of some description. Yes, we drafted them. Of course we did, they were a high priority. Let me see, here. I know we drafted two. In the…uh…seventh round? Hmmm. That's not good.

What about the plan, AJ? What about push years and winning games, man? Come on!

Before we all begin to burn AJ Smith in effigy once more let's look at the facts. Robert Gallery was available. He is a mammoth man with a great motor and work ethic. The type of player you can base a franchise on. But our offensive line has more holes in it than an ice flow in Mission Bay. Unless Robert Gallery can contact the Enterprise and manage to replicate himself into a right tackle as well he wouldn't be enough to plug the holes.

The team will definitely be looking at the June 1st cuts and possibly a trade or two to address its offensive line woes. I don't foresee the Chargers going into the season with the tackle situation as it is. But I also don't foresee them making any big moves as far as the offensive line goes.

The reason for that is that the team is working toward the long term. The way they are drafting and getting free agents is based solely on the long-term strategy. Those who claim Schottenheimer and Smith's jobs are in jeopardy are sadly mistaken. The Spanos' feel they have the coach they want and are happy with their new GM. If either man felt their job was in danger the strategy would be more short term. Win now at all costs a la the Redskins. That clearly is not the idea behind the Chargers' moves.

Although the Chargers did not draft offensive line or receiver look for those moves to come next year with their twin draft picks in the first round. For now, look for some lower cost veterans to be brought in to temporarily plug some holes.

Jesse Hayner can be reached at

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