Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Free Agency Impact: Since the 2012 season concluded, it's safe to say that almost every expert out there was predicting that a left tackle would be San Diego's first pick in April, but free agency has made things a bit complicated.
For starters, there's only three prospects with first-round potential at the left tackle position in 2013. You've probably already heard the names before—Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson—but what some people tend to forget is that these guys have become so popular on draft boards that none of them may even be available when San Diego goes on the clock at pick No. 11.
Next, there's the issue of what the Chargers lost in free agency. On the offensive line, San Diego is not only devoid of a starting left tackle, but now, they are also without a right guard thanks to the departure of Louis Vasquez to Denver.
Then take a look at the defensive line. The Chargers lost three big contributors in Antonio Garay, Aubrayo Franklin and Vaughn Martin this offseason. That leaves Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes and Cam Thomas as San Diego's starting defensive linemen in 2013—not a terrible showing, but it could be better.
Those are all pretty big losses that are going to require some immediate attention in the draft, which is why free agency has made some changes to what San Diego might do in Round 1.
Prediction: If Joeckel, Fisher or Johnson is there at No. 11, then it's a no-brainer; take your franchise left tackle and give Philip Rivers the protection that he so desperately needs.
However, if all three are off the board, then it's time to make a decision. Either you opt to move back in the draft and possibly find another starting left tackle while accumulating more picks or you opt to select another position of need—which in my opinion would be a guard or defensive lineman.
ESPN's Bill Williamson discussed this similar scenario on his blog, but he believes West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will be the deciding factor in who San Diego lands with the 11th overall pick. It's a crazy equation but it makes sense.
Personally, I see Johnson being the pick if he's still on the board. Otherwise, I like Utah's Star Lotulelei as a fit to replace the hole left in the middle of the defensive line or Alabama's Chance Warmack to come in and play right guard.