There is no more imperfect "science" than that of predicting the NFL draft. The only thing that could arguably be as difficult is predicting whether the player selected will actually succeed as a professional.
Nonetheless, the analysis and prognosticating have become an annual rite of spring. The Chargers have some definite holes to be filled. Union-Tribune columnist Kevin Acee has repeatedly noted that Philip Rivers does not yet have a line that will protect him any better than last season.
Is the reason that the Chargers have not elected to restructure Rivers' contract their hesitancy to commit more years to his deal? If 2013 is indeed, as Acee speculates, Rivers' final "tryout," then where are the reinforcements up front? He has joined every other interested observer in assuming that the draft will be the answer.
But although this appears to be a draft class deep with offensive line talent, there are also more teams than usual in need of blockers. Had the Chargers not picked a quarterback in 2004, they may very well have picked Iowa's Robert Gallery. He too was a "can't-miss" blue chip prospect.
So Tom Telesco will have his hands full with the 11th pick. He may have to opt for the "best player available" strategy instead of focusing on the line. The real suspense may very well be in seeing what the previous 10 teams do.
If you look at 20 mock drafts, you would probably see Johnson assigned to the Chargers in over half of them. However, many pundits now believe that Johnson could be gone before the Bolts can get him. They could trade up if they truly believe Johnson is worth it. At this point, nothing is known about Telesco's general managing style since he is yet to oversee a draft.
If Johnson or the rest of the line prospects are gone, Mingo might be the call. This was Pat Kirwin's call on Sirius XM's "Moving The Chains" and on cbs.com.
The defensive line was the biggest reason for optimism in 2012. However, there is always room for another pass-rusher. Melvin Ingram will need to step up his game this year, but Mingo would be a nice addition regardless.
Guards don't historically have the same value assigned to them that tackles do in the draft. But in the event that Warmack is available, Telesco could pull the trigger. Is Warmack worth it? That's a discussion for another day.
However, Warmack is another name turning up in many mock drafts for the Bolts.
Jones was the Union-Tribune's pick in its mock draft. The U-T also suggests that this would happen only if the tackles and Warmack are gone by the 11th pick.
"This is likely a nightmare scenario for Chargers fans," the paper suggests.
That is a pretty good assessment of how fans would react since the season would look hopeless without help up front. But Jones is certainly a good player. He appears to be an impact defender and would bolster a linebacking corps that will probably be replacing Shaun Phillips. Jones just wouldn't help fill the Bolts' biggest need right now.
I assigned the least odds to Cooper, since there seems to be little likelihood of the Chargers having to take him. Most scouting reports on Cooper suggest that he needs to get bigger. In other years, he might not be worth the 11th pick. But if he's there and Bolts have to take him, that could very well happen.