2012 NFL Draft: Top 7 First-Round Prospects for the San Diego Chargers

Carlos CapellanContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Top 7 First-Round Prospects for the San Diego Chargers

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    Moving into the 2012 season, the San Diego Chargers have some very important holes to fill for next year.

    Their first and most important priority is to rebuild their offensive line. Secondly, they need to find a player on the defensive side of the ball who can be part of the front seven and have a strong impact.

    Lastly, they need to find a speedy player who can give them special teams playmaking ability. A.J. Smith has his hands full this upcoming draft.

    The following seven players could help solve these problems for A.J. Smith, Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers:

Left Tackle, Mike Adams (Ohio State)

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    With Marcus McNeill considering retirement as a result of his consistent leg injuries, the Chargers need to find a way to protect Phillip Rivers' blind side. Rivers had a hard time this year as a result of the inconsistent protection.

    Mike Adams is massive, standing at 6'6" and weighing 320lb. He is consistent and has leadership qualities. He started the last 23 games of his collegiate career and was a three-year starter at Ohio State and a team captain his senior year.

    He would be a solid replacement who can contribute his rookie year. 

Guard, Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State)

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    A strong replacement for Kris Dielman on the offensive line would be Iowa State Guard Kelechi Osemele. One thing that will happen for the Chargers in drafting this young man is that the play-action pass will become relevant again.

    Kelechi is a punishing run blocker who clears lanes and manhandles the person standing across from him. What allows him to beat a lot of his opponents is his quick step off the snap. He still needs to develop some discipline, but could potentially develop into a solid offensive lineman for any team.

Inside Linebacker, Luke Kuechly (Boston College)

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    Should the Chargers choose to address their defensive problems first, they should look to Inside linebacker Luke Kuechly.

    Antwan Barnes has solidified a starting spot for himself opposite of Shaun Phillips, but the Chargers could use some help on the inside. There was a steady rotation throughout the season in the middle, and Takeo Spikes is near the end of his career.

    Donald Butler is proving to be a solid inside player and still very much in his youth, but Kuechly has a knack for finding the ball and being in the right place at the right time. He had a streak of 33 games with double digit tackles, and would help out immediately with the Chargers' run-defense problems.

Guard, Cordy Glenn (Georgia)

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    Should Mike Adams and/or Osemele be off the board at this point, the San Diego Chargers should consider Cordy Glenn. Glenn is bigger than most lineman entering the draft this year, standing 6'5", 348lbs.

    He is a patient and smart pass blocker and also a solid run blocker. As a result of his size, his initial first step is at times a struggle. However, once this man gets moving, the defender needs to be careful because not many people will be getting around him.

    Glenn is another option for the Chargers to be able to rebuild an offensive line that is in transition.

Strong Safety, Mark Barron (Alabama)

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    Mark Barron is the top prospect at strong safety, and he is not projected to go until the second round. However, this could be a huge pick up for them to solidify their secondary.

    With 38 career starts for the Crimson Tide, this First Team All-American could be an impact player. There have been questions at the strong safety position for the San Diego Chargers since the departure of Rodney Harrison.

    Mark Barron bypassed last year's draft to return for his senior year, and now he is a National Champion.

Linebacker, Zach Brown (North Carolina)

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    Zach Brown is a versatile linebacker who is ideal for a 3-4 defense—he can play outside or inside.

    He plays the weak side of the field well because he has the speed to get across the field. He can also be rotated in at defensive end, providing a potent pass rush.

    The All-ACC First Team linebacker could be the impact player that the San Diego Chargers are looking for on the defensive side of the ball.

Wide Receiver, Juron Criner (Arizona)

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    Should the Chargers choose not to fill their holes but instead go shopping for offensive weapons, they could look at Juron Criner—a solid receiver who has the ability to make a big play.

    At pick No. 18, the other solid players at this position would be off the board and Criner would be the best available receiver. The Chargers might be inclined to pick a receiver, considering that Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Patrick Crayton are all free agents.

    With all of the drama surrounding Vincent Jackson's contract last year, it is a possibility that he may not want to re-sign with the Chargers. Should that happen, Phillip Rivers needs people to actually throw the ball to.

Make or Break

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    This draft could determine whether or not the Chargers get a complete face lift or they will be kept intact. The Norv Turner/ A.J. Smith regime will be determined by what gets done this offseason. Top three priorities:

    1. Protect Phillip Rivers

    2. Defensive Play-maker

    3. Special Teams Dynamo

    Best of luck, Chargers.