Heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers surprisingly don't have too many holes to fill, as their roster is filled with talent but ultimately underachieved in the 2011 season with an 8-8 record.
This is likely the last straw for head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith as they barely survived this past season and will have to improve on their mediocre record from a year ago.
With that being said, the Chargers do have some holes to fill such as at offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, wide receiver, cornerback and strong safety.
Taking those areas of need into consideration, here are five players that San Diego should target with their 18th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Depending on how free agency goes and if the San Diego Chargers are unable to re-sign their starting left tackle Jared Gaither, then they could simply find his replacement via the draft with Iowa's Riley Reiff.
Reiff will enter the draft standing at 6'6" and weighting a solid 300 pounds. He's certainly got decent size to succeed at the left tackle position at the NFL level while still maintaining great footwork.
Reiff is the ideal athlete for an NFL left tackle as his long arms give him an advantage along with his natural athleticism.
With the 18th overall pick, drafting Reiff would not be a terrible decision by A.J. Smith and the Chargers.
Nick Perry would be a perfect fit for the San Diego Chargers in their 3-4 defense and would ultimately be the replacement to former great pass-rusher Shawne Merriman.
Perry flourished during his time at USC as he was an absolute sack machine—which can be considered a weakness as he gets so caught up in getting after the quarterback that he gets beat on the run quite a few times a game.
Perry is gifted player that should develop into a stud pass-rusher for many years to come.
Vincent Jackson has had contract issues for the past couple of seasons with the San Diego Chargers and there's a very good chance that they'll simply let him walk this offseason as the two parties tend to clash heads at times.
If Jackson signs elsewhere, then Notre Dame's Michael Floyd could be a perfect replacement for Jackson.
Floyd spent his college days with Notre Dame and he proved to be quite the physical wide receiver, as he stands in at 6'3" and weights an impressive 220 pounds.
With Floyd being so large and muscular, his biggest weakness is that he doesn't have the elite speed to beat defenders running deep—which is certainly something that he makes up for with his physicality at the snap of the ball.
So long Steve Gregory and Bob Sanders and hello Mark Barron.
Alabama's Mark Barron is by far the most well-rounded safety prospect that the 2012 draft class has to offer.
Barron possess elite size and is extremely physical, as he's not afraid to use his large 6'2", 225-pound frame.
The biggest weakness for Barron is that sometimes he struggles in pass coverage, like when a receiver runs past him, he doesn't have the elite recovery speed to make up the ground.
Other than that, Barron is a solid prospect that is a pretty stout tackler and is great against the run.
If the San Diego Chargers are going to win football games then they're going to have to protect Philip Rivers—it's just that simple.
Rivers has all the talent in the world and has the potential to be one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but he wont be able to if he's getting pressured on every single pass play—much like last season.
As previously stated, Jared Gaither is set to become a free agent, which could open the door for the Chargers to draft Stanford's Jonathan Martin.
Martin did a phenomenal job during his career at Stanford protecting Andrew Luck's blind side, and he could do the same thing for Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.