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2013 NFL Draft: San Diego Chargers spotlight

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/

This is the 11th of a team-by-team series, analyzing five prospects that each team should consider in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Every team in the NFL hopes to get younger and more talented on draft day. The San Diego Chargers didn't wait for the draft, opting to put the future of the organization in the hands of general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy, each 40 years old.

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2013 NFL Draft

While this is the first time in positions of this much authority for both Telesco and McCoy, make no mistake, they've earned the opportunity.

Telesco began his career in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers in 1995 before rising through the ranks with the Indianapolis Colts for the past 15 years.

McCoy emerged as one of the hottest names in the coaching ranks after tayloring the Denver Broncos' offense two years ago to fit Tim Tebow's unique game and adjusting it back to a more traditional pro-style attack a year later with Peyton Manning at the helm.

The duo takes over an aging Chargers roster with plenty of holes, most notably on the offensive line.

McCoy addressed San Diego's concerns up front at the combine.

"The great thing is we hired a great offensive line coach (Joe D'Alessandris)," McCoy said. "So that's where it's going to start. We're going to do the best job we can, Tom Telesco and myself, of acquiring talent, bringing people in, figuring out by the opener who are the best five guys to play.

"Everyone's going to start with a clean slate in our organization. There will be some transactions that will happen over time. We're going to do whatever we can to do the best things we can to get the best 53 guys to help build that success.

And it's not just the offensive line. The running backs will be involved in protections. The tight ends being involved. The receivers getting to the right spot. Getting there on time, being where you're supposed to be. We'll help them in the passing game doing certain things. And a good running game will help that also."

Former general manager A.J. Smith thought he had the makings of a good running game by selecting Ryan Mathews in the first round in 2010. The former Fresno State star is clearly talented, but has missed 10 games due to injury over his first three seasons and has been limited in a number of other contests.

McCoy is known for his ability to work with quarterbacks and he inherits one of the league's most talented in Philip Rivers. That fact, in itself, gives the Chargers hope for a quick turnaround.

However, after making only one significant splash in free agency -- signing former Jaguars' cornerback Derek Cox to a four-year, $20 million deal -- San Diego appears to be committed to rebuilding the roster through the draft.

San Diego's biggest concern is clearly at left tackle. The team would love to see Oklahoma's Lane Johnson still on the board but with only seven picks to work with the team can't afford to move up to guarantee getting him.

As such, perhaps it was wise that San Diego's top brass is young. A significant overhaul of the roster appears necessary for the Chargers to re-emerge as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

San Diego Chargers 2013 draft picks: 11, 45, 76, 110, 145, 179, 221

Primary needs: OT, OG, RB, CB, WR

General manager: Tom Telesco, first season

Five draft picks that clicked:
-- DL Corey Liuget, 18th overall, 2011
-- OG Louis Vasquez, 78th overall, 2009
-- CB Antoine Cason, 27th overall, 2008
-- S Eric Weddle, 37th overall, 2007
-- OT Jeromey Clary, 187th overall, 2006

Five players who should be on the San Diego Chargers' draft radar:
Player, school (overall rating, position rating)

OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (7, 3): The Chargers' inability to provide a consistently safe pocket for Rivers has been the team's greatest failure since engineering the draft-day trade which landed the former North Carolina State quarterback. Johnson has emerged as a potential top 10 pick despite having only played offensive tackle for two seasons, with only his senior campaign being at left tackle. Because he remains a relatively unpolished player, there is a chance he's still on the board for San Diego at No. 11. Unfortunately for the Chargers, everyone else in the league knows that the team has a glaring hole at the position and will likely select Johnson if he falls to them, making the Tennessee Titans one pick earlier a potential trade-down candidate. Should the Chargers not land their left tackle here, the team could focus on a talented defensive lineman (since a player at this position is likely to be the best available) or fill a greater need at cornerback.

CB David Amerson, North Carolina State (50, 6): Cox was signed to take over one of the starting cornerback positions that became open with the Chargers electing to move on from former first round picks Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason, but there isn't an obvious candidate to take over the other position. Amerson, 6-1, 205 has the length and athleticism to be effective in defensive coordinator John Pagano's press-zone scheme and is a natural playmaker, leaving NC State as the country's leading pass thief (18 career interceptions) despite entering the draft as a junior.

RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (77, 3): Whereas Smith and former head coach Norv Turner had a lot invested in Mathews, the new regime in San Diego won't necessarily feel the same loyalty to the talented but oft-injured back. The Chargers already proved as much in signing former Patriots' standout Danny Woodhead to a two-year deal and will likely add another back in the draft. The 5-10, 205-pound Franklin left UCLA as the career rushing leader and has enjoyed a strong pre-draft season, impressing at both the Senior Bowl and combine. He's a durable, well-rounded back who could be drafted in the second round and certainly would rank among the best talents available if available to San Diego in the third.

OL Oday Aboushi, Virginia (122, 12): The greatest misconception about San Diego's offensive line is that the club is set other than at the left tackle position. In reality, the Chargers have multiple holes up front and the issue was only made worse with the free agent defection of right guard Louis Vasquez. Aboushi played left tackle for the Cavaliers but doesn't have the athleticism to remain there in the NFL. He is a highly physical player who would quickly boost the toughness and dependability of San Diego's offensive line.

CB/S Sanders Commings, Georgia (181, 22): To make strides in the AFC West, the Chargers must focus on beating the two most talented teams in the division - the Broncos and Chiefs, each of whom feature huge receivers. Commings, 6-0, 216, primarily played cornerback for the Bulldogs and ran well enough at the combine (4.41) that some will be convinced he can remain there. He's faster than he is quick, however, which might make him a better fit in San Diego as a strong safety candidate to complement Weddle, the Chargers' best defensive player.

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