Mike Pouncey is at the center of Chargers’ plan to improve the offensive line
As the Chargers prepare for the NFL draft, the Los Angeles Times will examine their roster. Part 5 of 8: offensive line.
Surround him with a veteran quarterback and veteran tackles or surround him with a set of young guards in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney, who are the future of the offensive line.
Either way, it’s not going to change how new Chargers center Mike Pouncey goes about his business.
“Honestly, for me it’s just coming in and being who I’ve always been my whole career,” Pouncey said. “I’ve always been a leader. I’m excited to help these guys out, since they are young guys. … When you’ve got young guys, you can kind of mold them into the way you want to, and I’m excited.
“I’m going to turn them into two young dogs.”
The Chargers added the Pro Bowl center via free agency after the Miami Dolphins decided he was too expensive to keep.
Already an emotional player with a strong work ethic, Pouncey said he’s still upset with how his exit from Miami went down.
“I understand it happens; it was just the way it happened,” he said. “I was there for seven years, and for them to not bring me in, set me down and let me know what was going on, especially the fact that me and my brother worked out there every single day this offseason, sat down and met with the coaches every single day, it just didn’t sit well with me. Guys come in and get cut all the time, but I was there for seven years. They could have at least brought me in, instead of texting my agent and ignoring my phone calls and texts all day.”
It just added more fuel to the fire for Pouncey, who said he landed with his first choice in the Chargers.
It’s another key move as the Chargers tore down and rebuilt their offensive line in the two offseasons since Anthony Lynn became head coach.
Last year, the team spent on left tackle Russell Okung before taking Lamp and Feeney in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft, adding tackle Sam Tevi in the sixth.
More help could be on the way if another offensive tackle becomes a target early in the draft.
If so, Pouncey will just have another young dog to mold.
Offensive linemen under contract: Russell Okung ($14.97 million), Mike Pouncey ($6.25 million), Joe Barksdale ($5.78 million), Forrest Lamp ($1.52 million), Dan Feeney ($865,158), Michael Schofield ($1.75 million), Sam Tevi ($595,451), Spencer Pulley ($630,668), Donovan Clark ($501,524), Brett Boyko ($480,000), Cole Toner ($555,00).
Free agents: At this point, the Chargers probably won’t be players on the market. . They had hoped to keep Matt Slauson, but his role would’ve been limited, opening the door for him to sign with the Indianapolis Colts. Same goes for Kenny Wiggins, who signed with the Detroit Lions. If — and it’s a big if — the Chargers do dip back into the market, it would probably be for more depth on the interior as insurance for Lamp, who hasn’t played an NFL game yet because of a knee injury suffered last year in camp.
Draft: Offensive tackle will definitely be in play on the first two days of the draft, when the Chargers could be looking for the tackle of the future. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey and UCLA’s Kolton Miller could be options with the No. 17 pick. There’s some depth at the position as well, with smaller school prospects such as Desmond Harrison, an intriguing gamble who was good enough to earn a spot at Texas before suspensions eventually led him to West Georgia.
Roster decisions: The line is fairly set n with the exception of right tackle, where Joe Barksdale is a high-priced veteran who could become a target for a team looking to shed salary. Barksdale is the best right tackle the Chargers have, though, and they were better with him on the field last year than when he was sidelined because of a nagging foot injury.
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