Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 4/17/13
The month of April is a special time for all NFL teams, as each has return to work and officially begun their pursuit of capturing the Lombardi Trophy next season.Every team’s front office is finalizing their draftboard by numerically ranking every collegian available in the 2013 NFL Draft.This is an important draft especially for general manager Tom Telesco and the entire San Diego Chargers' front office, as he will finally have to show his cards in the high-stakes game of rebuilding a once proud franchise.How Telesco shapes the roster with his draft selections will tell how far the Chargers are away from being a serious playoff contender.Here are the Chargers pick-by-pick predictions for the 2013 NFL Draft:First Round Pick (11th Overall): OT Lane Johnson, OklahomaThis pick could be the safest prediction in the entire article, as the Chargers' biggest need at the end of last season was upgrading their offensive line.Selecting Lane Johnson is a no-brainer decision for San Diego; he’ll give Philip Rivers the added protection so desperately needed for him to return to the status of an elite quarterback once again. Johnson is the consensus best pass-blocking offensive lineman in this Draft, which is certainly a win-win situation for the Chargers.Second Round Pick (45th Overall): CB Robert Alford, Southeastern LouisianaThis is the perfect time in the Draft for the Chargers to add depth to their roster, as selecting CB Robert Alford will help offset the loss of two starters (Antoine Cason left via free agency to Arizona and Quentin Jammer is still unsigned) from last year’s secondary.Telesco has helped ease the pain by signing Derek Cox in free agency, but you never have too many defensive backs. Alford has the covering skills to shutdown opposing team’s top receivers and he isn’t afraid to take on a tailback running to the outside.Third Round Pick (76th Overall): QB Matt Barkley, USCNew regime, new quarterback, most NFL teams will follow this order of procession after making changes to the top of their front office. This seems to be the right time for the Chargers to start planning for life after Philip Rivers and draft a young quarterback.Calm down Bolt fans, this change doesn’t have to take place next season or in 2015, but the preparation and development must begin this year. The Chargers shouldn’t be comfortable with Charlie Whitehurst as their backup quarterback, and Matt Barkley perfectly fits in Mike McCoy’s offense, which emphasizes moving the ball downfield primarily through the air.Fourth Round Pick (110th Overall): LB/DE Trevardo Williams, ConnecticutThe Chargers' defense will lack a true edge pass-rusher with the pending departure of Shaun Phillips, who’s still unsigned and likely not returning to San Diego.They did improve last season with the emergence of Kendall Reyes and Cory Liuget from the defensive end position, but it’s still a work in progress under second-year defensive coordinator John Pagano.UConn's Trevardo Williams is an under-sized defensive end that collected 11.5 sacks last season in the Big East Conference, and could make a smooth transition to the outside linebacker position.Williams is a perfect fit in this defensive scheme, as he has outstanding speed to get around a tackle and create havoc in the backfield.Fifth Round Pick (145th Overall): WR Kenny Stills, OklahomaThe Chargers need an upgrade at the wide receiver position because they lack a true No. 1 threat, as Robert Meacham wasn’t the answer last season.Telesco needs to add a quality wideout to the mix to halt the rapidly decline of Philip River’s career, who has struggled badly throwing the football the last two seasons. Kenny Stills is the perfect selection for the fifth round, as he’s a great athlete that will bring a speed element to the passing game.  Sixth Round Pick (179th Overall): RB Marcus Lattimore, South CarolinaClearly, Ryan Mathews isn’t the long-term solution to the Chargers' running game woes, but they don’t have to solve this problem this season. Telesco can afford to take a gamble with Marcus Lattimore, as he isn’t expected to play this year, but the Chargers might be gaining themselves a stud back for 2014.Lattimore has the body frame and moves that make defenders miss him in the open field. Unfortunately, the Chargers have to be concern about his health, as Lattimore has endured two major knee injuries in consecutive seasons.Seventh Round Pick (221th Overall): CB Leon McFadden, SDSUYou can’t help but root for cornerback Leon McFadden, who has the skill set to defend the pass in the NFL. Unfortunately, McFadden’s size disadvantage will be the biggest challenge to overcome in his rookie season.McFadden's quick feet allow him to effortlessly change direction at a moment’s notice and still stick with a wideout downfield. Plus, he has the awareness to jump in and make the right play on underneath route passes.
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