Monday Mailbag: EDGE of 17 (look, it’s a movie title. I’m trying.)

Welcome to the Monday Mailbag! Thank you for sending in Twitter questions for me to answer, I will try to answer as many of them as I can. If you are here for The Athletic, I am sorry to say I will disappoint you. Here we go:

Gil Sery: Since the Chargers don’t seem to be getting a RT in free agency, what’s your best guess as to how they plug that hole?

The Duke Manyweather connection may hold strong here. For those who do not know, Manyweather is an offensive line coach and arguably the best and most well-known private coach out there. He worked with LT Rashawn Slater last draft cycle (that worked out pretty well). He has worked with RG Oday Aboushi and I believe still does.

The Chargers have three likely options at right tackle IF they do not add a starter in free agency. Here’s how Manyweather connects to all three decisions:

  1. Draft Trevor Penning at 17. The Chargers are likely S.O.L. when it comes to the top tier “Big Three” OTs (Cross being the potential faller). The right tackle draft options are Penning, a guy who is about to be 25 who has been sliding down boards since the Senior Bowl, and a 380-lb mammoth who may not fit their offensive scheme. Penning has been working with Manyweather this offseason and drew the praise of both the OL guru and Brandon Thorn, the “other” OL expert. If the Chargers have trusted Manyweather’s work and advice with Aboushi and Slater it is VERY possible they are comfortable with Penning at 17.
  2. Guess who joined Manyweather this offseason? That would be one former Sioux Falls third rounder Trey Pipkins. If there is any hope for Pipkins to become a starter in his final year, sending him to a crash course in excellence with Manyweather is not a bad way to go.
  3. Matt Feiler (to my knowledge) does not work with Manyweather. I am bringing him up here because of the discussion surrounding his potential move back to right tackle. Do you know what Manyweather despises? Moving players around the offensive line. Now, there’s a difference here: Feiler has done it before and he is NOT a rookie being shifted around like Alex Leatherwood. But I am willing to bet Manyweather would advise keeping Feiler where he excels and, more importantly, where he excels next to Slater at left guard.

Riley Williams: How do you see the D line rotation working out? Especially curious where Fehoko and Covington fit in.

In some mix-and-match order, the starting trio is Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, and Jerry Tillery. Given SJD’s athletic profile I could see the group looking like Tillery-Johnson-SJD.

Tillery is not going anywhere this year. They forced him out there last year and they will do it again this year. He is a golden boy. The commotion about either the coaches or Telesco/Spanos forcing him out there is real, trust me. Most feel it is a Telesco/Spanos thing, but I hear it is just as equally a coaching “accountability” issue.

Christian Covington was initially brought onto the roster to be a NT2 behind Linval Joseph. Breiden Fehoko dropped weight and moved all over the defensive line for the Chargers following the injury to Justin Jones. I think Joe Gaziano is out and those other five make up your IDL room. They do not have the luxury of taking a backup defensive tackle who would start over any of these guys, in my opinion.

For reference, the final Week 18 game snap counts were:

Joseph (Johnson): 40%

Tillery (same): 72%

Jones (SJD): 72%

Covington (same): 29%

Fehokko (same): 16%

Gaziano did not see action, but was on the roster.

Mitanx: Hypothetically speaking, if you knew the Chargers were going to trade back, how far back would you trade back and be in comfortable position and what picks would you want for trading back?

I would love to trade back with the Pittsburgh Steelers given the low-risk nature of the move. The trade back would look like:

Chargers GetSteelers Get
20 (1), 84 (3), and 208 (6)17 (1), 123 (4), 160 (5)
Value: 1026.6Value: 1024.8

Bolt Up with Ukraine: Who will be the “core” player we move away from first? Not this year but coming. A lot of people saying Allen.

Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will be the team’s starting duo (barring a massive collapse from either this year) for the next two seasons in my opinion. I think Allen is going to retire a Charger.

Hard to define what a core player is in this instance. I think Drue Tranquill goes next year. I think Tillery is gone too. Michael Davis is the front-runner cut candidate for 2023.

BollyHood Raised Me: Would you trade a future first, or a 2nd and 3rd, to get DK?

No.

Baego!: Does the Chargers fans prejudice to draft a WR at 17 come from the Burrow to Chase success last season?

There may never be another moment in NFL history where a former National Championship winning quarterback gets paired up with the No. 1 wide receiver in the next class who was with him on that championship team. And oh by the way, the Bengals had one of the easiest schedules in the league last year with a division collapsing around them.

What I am trying to say is that we should not expect anything close to that connection.

But, Chargers fans (myself included) REALLY want to see Justin Herbert get more easy layups. Herbert led one of the best offenses in the league while having to hit half court shots with a deflated basketball. I would love to see him get the opportunity to dump the ball down to a Treylon Burks or Jameson Williams and watch them run for 75 yards after the catch. I think that is what fans really want more than anything.

H: Do we have enough depth to go deep in the playoffs? And do you see Staley changing up his scheme on defense with the new additions in FA?

The Chargers’ depth situation is currently pretty terrible, particularly when it comes to defense. Corner and EDGE depth is horrendous. I think that changes, but ask me again after the draft. Staley’s scheme: Put Murray and Tillery in the best positions to succeed.

Boy is that a juicy topic for a future article…

Daniel Thibault: The Patriots often used their CB1 to lock down their opponents’ WR2 and use double coverage on their WR1. Do you think that’s how we’ll use CJ Jackson or will he be charged to shut down their WR1?

Staley looked at Jackson and rattled off the No. 1 WRs he had to cover while reading his scouting report. One of them was Mike Evans. Jackson followed Evans all over the field, inside or outside, all game. I think Staley will do that with Jackson this year.

Andrew Donnelly: Will Gabe Nabers stick as the FB?

Stephen Anderson just announced he will not be returning to Los Angeles, which is a whole other thing I do NOT like we can save for a later discussion. Gabe Nabers burned a hole on the roster that could have gone to another…well, anything else. Even Darius Bradwell might have played more on offense than Nabers did.

I believe the Chargers are going to rock with Tre’ McKitty in that role, especially after bringing on Gerald Everett to pair with Donald Parham as that TE one-two punch. Nabers does not hold much value and barely saw the field after the first quarter of the season.

I heard Bobby Holly was the better NFL fullback in training camp (which we heard in 2020 too). Just saying.

Bollywood Herbert: How would you feel about drafting an EDGE at 17?

The Chargers are in desperate need of a third edge rusher and I would be for it at 17. I believe an edge rusher at 17 is a more pressing need than a wide receiver at 17. EDGE is a position you take earlier, not later.

I would not rule out Penn State EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, who is both a likely first-round player and a player who just jumped David Ojabo on boards following the latter’s injury. Check out NFL Mock Draft Database for the rise: Ebiketie has jumped from going about 80th in mock drafts to 39th, and is currently the player most frequently mocked to the Chiefs at 29.

Brian LeRoux: Can we safely assume Tillery will be gone after this season?

The Chargers will painfully force feed us Tillery until his contract is up, then punt him into the sun like the rest of their former draft picks.

In all seriousness, I DO believe he is gone. Tom Telesco has exercised the fifth-year option on every single one of his first rounders so far. I think Tillery is the first player he will not do that for.

JB: After watching Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd tape, do either suit the Chargers at LB?

They are both fantastic players who would thrive with the Chargers (I hope). But even Utah-worshipper Steven Haglund wouldn’t take Devin Lloyd at 17 over a handful of other positions. The Chargers will take a linebacker on Day 3 (as always, barring a massive fall from someone else early).

Gbz2020: How much do you think we really improved in the interior?

Jerry Tillery is a starter. It will be about the same, truthfully, at least comparing the 2021 starting lineup to the 2022 starting lineup. Tillery is a serious liability in the run game and not the most productive as a pass rusher. I do not believe he is taken off the field for any non-injury reason and there are people in the building who feel the same way.

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