The Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers completed an odd one player-for-player trade on Wednesday that involved the Chargers sending veteran offensive tackle Russell Okung to the Panthers for guard Trai Turner. Most of football media agrees that the Chargers got the better end of the deal considering Turner’s age and status as one of the NFL’s ascending talents at guard, but they also may have revealed their plan for the first round in the 2020 NFL draft.
While it’s true that GM Tom Telesco could decide to use the sixth overall pick on a quarterback like Oregon’s Justin Herbert, it seems more likely now that he’ll target one of this year’s top offensive tackle prospects to replace Okung.
Los Angeles’ offensive tackle depth chart is void of any legitimate starting talent. In fact, it’s a disaster-in-waiting for the offense if they don’t add a significant upgrade this offseason. The top veteran option available in free agency is Tennessee’s Jack Conklin, but the Chargers need more than just one, assuming they’re even in on the Conklin sweepstakes.
Sam Trevi and Trent Scott are the top two tackles on the Chargers’ depth chart right now. Scott had an atrocious 49.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2019, and Trevi wasn’t far behind with a 59.0 The third tackle on the depth chart, Trey Pipkins, scored a 63.3.
See what I mean?
The sixth overall pick will provide the Chargers with an instant upgrade at the position, and there’s a chance they could land the top offensive tackle in the 2020 draft. Only the New York Giants present as a team that’s likely to take an offensive tackle before them (at No. 4 overall), and with the sudden rise of Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons after his exceptional performance at the NFL Combine, his odds of being the Giants’ pick have gone way up.
The Chargers know this, too. That’s why they dealt Okung with little concern about what’s remaining at the position on the roster. They’ve studied the draft board and have analyzed the five teams selecting ahead of them. It’s basic math, really. With four legitimate starting-quality offensive tackles in this year’s class — Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Mekhi Becton (Louisville) and Andrew Thomas (Georgia) — they’re guaranteed at least one of them assuming quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are selected in the top five.
So, yeah, go get Trai Turner. And line him up next to the eventual blue-chip rookie who’ll be headed to Los Angeles in April.
It was a smart trade by a Chargers team that was able to flip an aging and injury-prone offensive tackle for a top-tier guard, not only because of the one-for-one value but because of the offensive line rebuild that will continue in the first round.