The Chargers' offensive line could see a big shakeup behind the starting five next season. With all the linemen San Diego pulled aside during Senior Bowl week, the existing backups better be ready for a battle in camp.
Chargers' scouts spent time with Roy Schuening from Oregon State. Schuening can play tackle and guard, and is the personification of durability, setting a OSU record with 50 consecutive starts. His place on the Pro Football Weekly All-America squad is a testament to his ability.
"I'm a tough, hardnosed player who will do whatever he can to help the team out, be it on special teams or whatever it may be. I'm going to do what I can to help the team win," Schuening said.
San Diego scouts also spent face time with an Ohio State Buckeye, Kirk Barton, who was a four-year starter at tackle in college but could move inside to guard in the pros. He was named AFCA first-team All America as a senior for his tenacious blocking and relentless leadership.
Barton, a projected fifth-round pick, had a reputation for talking trash in college. That would make him a perfect fit with San Diego's group of renowned chatterboxes. However, Barton is determined to do his talking on the field.
"I'll be dedicated and focused to help the team in whatever way possible, whether it's starting or playing on special teams…whatever it takes. I'll work at it and I'll want to do it," Barton said.
Another lineman the Chargers interviewed privately is Nebraska offensive tackle Carl Nicks. He started in 11 games at left tackle as a senior, but has the ability to play either tackle position or inside at guard. He anchored a line ranked in the top-30 in sacks allowed in 2007 (18 in 12 games).
San Diego likes his size (6'5", 345 pounds), but was more impressed with his speed and versatility in Senior Bowl practices.
Nicks could be a great addition to the Chargers' line. He has the size and strength of a prototype right tackle and could give give Jeromey Clary a run for his money. The Chargers need Nicks to fall into the third round for them to give him serious consideration, but that is hardly out of the question.
Nicks, for his part, is working diligently to see if he can sneak into the bottom of round one.
"I want to cut about five pounds and get faster and stronger, the same things I've been doing," he said.
The Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams also expressed a keen interest in Nicks and both have more flexibility with picks.
Another offensive lineman on the Chargers' radar is center Mike Pollak from Arizona State. A Chargers scout was seen having an in-depth conversation with Pollak after practice on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Pollak started his final 31 game at ASU and was named first team All-Pac-10 as a senior.
Pollak is on the radar because San Diego's offensive struggled mightily when Cory Withrow was forced to start four games in the middle of the season. Perhaps a backup with more upside is in order, and Pollak certainly fits the bill.
Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of Shawne Merriman, Lorenzo Neal, Shaun Phillips and others for Sixthman Communications.
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