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Chargers

Remotely speaking, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has views on draft

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn speaks to the media during the NFC/AFC coaches breakfast last season.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn can’t wait to see the new team pieces on the practice field.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Anthony Lynn was born in the 1960s, began his college career in the 1980s and, late in the 2020 season, will turn 52.

As with so many people in his age range, these COVID-19 pandemic working conditions have represented a learning experience.

“Hell, I’m still a memo guy,” the Chargers coach said this week on a media conference call. “You know, most people get emails. I want paper. But for these kids, this is how they grew up. I don’t think it’s anything for them to meet this way and develop relationships. But it’s been eye-opening for me.”

Similar to all NFL teams, the Chargers have been conducting pre-draft interviews remotely, often meeting prospects face-to-face but doing so from great distances.

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The I.T.-based arrangements will continue for the foreseeable future, including during the draft April 23-25.

“I’ve been on conference calls, virtual meetings, Zoom meetings, FaceTime,” Lynn explained. “You name it. We’ve done it all. Guys have been really engaging. … We’ve had some very good meetings, very personable meetings.”

The Chargers have the No. 6 pick in the first round and are expected to take a quarterback, a development significant enough that it could alter the course of the franchise for years to come.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn downplayed the notion that the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly impacting the Chargers’ medical evaluations.
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Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love are the primary targets after Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow, who is forecast to go first overall to Cincinnati.

The Chargers’ decision also could greatly affect the futures of Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco, both of whom are attempting to bury a 5-11 finish in 2019.

Whatever the Chargers do, they’ll be forced to move forward with a bit of blind faith, something to which NFL teams are hardly accustomed.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) scrambles for yardage during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississipi State.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (13) could make the Chargers multi-dimensional at quarterback.
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)
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“You’re going to have to rely more on your sources, your scouting department and what you see on tape,” Lynn said. “Everyone’s in the same boat. So you just have to figure it out.”

Scott to guard?

In the process of rebuilding his offensive line, Lynn indicated that Trent Scott could move from tackle to guard.

“There’s a good chance,” he said. “I can’t wait to get all these guys back so that we can start piecing this thing together.”

Scott signed as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State in 2018. Because of injuries the past two seasons, he has played more — 10 starts and 25 games — than the Chargers anticipated.

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They moved Michael Schofield from tackle to guard before the 2018 season and he started 32 consecutive games there.

“To our surprise, he played extremely well,” Lynn said. “The same thing could happen with Trent. We’ll see.”

Schofield is a free agent and remains unsigned. The Chargers traded for five-time Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner this offseason and also added right tackle Bryan Bulaga in free agency.

They anticipate center Mike Pouncey coming back from neck surgery and figure to acquire a left tackle, either in the draft or on the open market.

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Lynn said Trey Pipkins, a third-round pick a year ago out of small-school Sioux Falls, will be among the candidates competing for the left tackle job, although the Chargers would prefer to develop him at a slower pace.

Quarterbacks expert Greg Cosell talks with L.A. Times reporter Sam Farmer about top prospects in the upcoming NFL draft in this Zoom chat.

“Trey’s a young left tackle,” Lynn said. “Had no intentions of Trey getting on the field last year. But I think the experience that he did have … it’s definitely going to carry over and help him this year. That learning curve for him will happen a little sooner.”

Lynn also mentioned the possibility of Sam Tevi, the former starting right tackle, moving to the left side. He said Bulaga also has the ability to switch.

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“We have some good pieces to work with,” Lynn said. “We’ll figure out what the best combination is once we get all those guys on campus and we get into some practices.”

Chief concern

Among the many obstacles facing the Chargers in 2020 in the fact that the reigning Super Bowl champions also reside in the AFC West.

Lynn was asked if adding top-tier slot cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was in response to having to combat Kansas City’s speed twice a year.

“You have to look at your division before you sign anybody,” he said. “Absolutely a team like Kansas City plays a role. If you ever want to win this division, that’s who you gotta beat right now.”

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Primary secondary

By bringing in Harris, the Chargers made their secondary notably deeper and more talented.

They also have safety Derwin James, cornerback Casey Hayward and the versatile Desmond King, each of whom, as with Harris, has earned postseason honors.

Almost forgotten in the group is Nasir Adderley, a second-round pick in 2019 who missed most of last season because of hamstring problems. A playmaking safety, Adderley is expected to contribute too.

“I wouldn’t bet against the young man,” Lynn said. “We just need to get him on the field. I believe when he gets on the field things will work themselves out. But we gotta get him on the field.”

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