Los Angeles Chargers: Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney revamp whole offense

Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Chargers drafted arguably the two best guards in the 2017 NFL Draft, Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney, and the offense will reap the benefits.

Looking simply at the win-loss record for the Los Angeles Chargers, you might assume that they were abysmal in 2016. Obviously they weren’t a top-tier team by any stretch. However, they were also one of the most injured teams in the entire league. In the secondary, at skill positions, in the defensive front seven, and on the offensive line they saw a plethora of debilitating injuries.

However, even when healthy, the latter unit up front for the offense was lackluster. Though Melvin Gordon turned the sophomore slump on its head by rebounding from a poor rookie showing, the offensive line was lacking in a big way in 2016. Thus, the Chargers front office was intent on addressing that in the offseason.

In free agency, they were able to pick up veteran tackle Russell Okung. Though he struggled last year, he still has a recent track record of being solid — or at least better than King Dunlap. The most important additions, however, came through the NFL Draft.

After using the seventh-overall pick on wide receiver Mike Williams, the Chargers looked to the interior of the O-line. In the second round (38th overall), they took the consensus best guard in the class, Forrest Lamp out of Western Kentucky. When on the clock in Round 3, they doubled-up at guard with Dan Feeney out of Indiana. With two picks, they changed the complexion of their offense.

By most accounts in terms of pre-draft scouting, both Lamp and Feeney are Day 1 starters at guard and project to be as much in Los Angeles in front of a filled soccer stadium. Not only are they that, though, they are significant upgrades from what the Chargers saw last year.

Even before being ravaged by injury, the Chargers offensive line last year was a wreck outside of Matt Slauson at center. Looking at their Week 1 starters, at left guard it was Orlando Franklin. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as just the 66th best guard in the NFL last season. D.J. Fluker was the starter at right guard, and he was admittedly better than Franklin when healthy. However, he was still graded as just the 54th best player at the position.

If Lamp and Feeney are even just average, they’re an upgrade from the Chargers initial starters. And that’s before you even get into the makeshift lines they had to put together throughout the 2016 campaign.

According to Football Outsiders, the Chargers had just the 23rd best offensive line in the league last season. And a large portion of that is due to both stuff percentage (times topped at the line of scrimmage or behind) and second-level yards (yardage from 5-10 yards). Melvin Gordon and Co. were stuffed 21 percent of the time, two points below league average. Meanwhile, they ranked 30th in second-level yards.

Looking at the film that plays out and largely due to the poor play at guard — and admittedly shortcomings at tackle. They weren’t able to push defenses around to create holes to get to that second level. What’s more, they often were pushed back themselves. At the very least, Lamp and Feeney will limit the number of times that happens in 2017 and beyond.

With that, though, the Chargers offense completely takes on a new look. Yes, Gordon somehow managed to still have a solid 2016 season. However, if the line is able to more capably block for him, he could be more of a weapon. And now that Philip Rivers has a revamped and reloaded group of pass-catchers, the passing game could then be balanced and be even more effective.

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Though there’s still plenty of offseason left, the Chargers are circled by many as a possible sleeper team. Looking at their defensive performance a year ago, they have the promise on that side. But it could be Lamp and Feeney that get them there offensively. The luxuries that they afford this offense could ultimately pay huge dividends.