SAN DIEGO (AP) Philip Rivers should be stoked about the Los Angeles Chargers’ draft.
Melvin Gordon, too.
Dan Feeney certainly is. He’s one of two offensive linemen who joined the Chargers in the draft and one of three offensive players taken with the team’s first three picks.
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The Chargers have a whole new fan base to win over in a crowded, demanding market. The best way to make a positive first impression with Angelenos will be by scoring lots of points and doing much better than the nine wins they had the past two years combined.
The Bolts, who have missed the playoffs six of the past seven seasons, addressed one of their most troublesome areas by drafting guards Forrest Lamp and Feeney in the second and third rounds to help block for two of their marquee players, Rivers and Gordon.
Although he’s from the Chicago area and played at Indiana, Feeney already sounds like a SoCal bro.
He said he’s looking forward to helping to protect Rivers.
”I think he’s one of the greats,” Feeney said. ”I’m excited to be blocking for him. My job is to keep him safe. I’m stoked for this opportunity.”
Feeney said he got to know Lamp at the Senior Bowl and combine.
”He’s a great dude, a big-time player. I’m excited to get to work with him,” Feeney said.
Spoken like a local.
”I’m stoked, man,” Feeney said. ”I’m excited to go to L.A. and be a Charger. Definitely a dream come true.”
Things to know about the draft by the Chargers, who remain based in San Diego until June 30:
BIG BOYS: Lamp is 6-foot-4, 300-pound and Feeney is 6-4, 310 pounds. Lamp played left tackle for the Hilltoppers, and he became the highest-drafted player in school history. He is likely to be a guard for the Chargers, who signed free-agent left tackle Russell Okung to a four-year deal last month. Feeney has also played some tackle, but will be used as a guard.
”When you have a chance to shore up an O-line with two good young players like that, you do it,” said coach Anthony Lynn, who was a backup running back and special teams player in his NFL career. ”I still think the game is played up front, O-line, D-line. There was value there, there was talent there, so we made the move.”
BIG NEED: The Chargers struggled on the offensive line last season because of inconsistent play, injuries and too many penalties. They released left tackle King Dunlap and right guard D.J. Fluker earlier this year.
Lamp and Feeney are expected to contribute immediately. The incumbent left guard is oft-injured Orlando Franklin and the incumbent right guard is Chris Hairston.
FROM KENTUCKY TO CARSON: Lamp was a four-year starter and two-time captain with the Hilltoppers. ”Hopefully I can be a leader out there, a guy who leads by example and does the right thing at the right time,” Lamp said. ”And hopefully an athletic guy who can give Philip Rivers more time and give Melvin Gordon a few more yards per carry.”
They would appreciate that. Gordon bounced back nicely from his miserable rookie season, rushing for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns, with two TD catches, before missing the last three games with hip and knee injuries. Rivers threw for 33 TDs, but also led the NFL with 21 interceptions.
THE FIRST-ROUNDER: Receiver Mike Williams, taken with the seventh overall selection, got a look at the Chargers’ petite new home stadium in Carson.
While StubHub Center seats 51,500 fewer fans than Death Valley, the former Clemson star is eager to get started with the Chargers and Rivers.
Williams said Rivers texted him shortly after the selection. ”I said to him, `Let’s get it,”’ Williams said. ”`I need to learn this playbook so I can catch a few balls and have some fun.’ I feel like I’m pretty lucky having a quarterback who can get me the ball.”
WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSE? Lynn said the Chargers would address defense in the final rounds.
”At some point we’re going to have to get some defense or the defensive coaches are going to jump off the building,” Lynn cracked.
General manager Tom Telesco said the Chargers were simply following their board in drafting all offense the first two days. He said he went down to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s office ”and tried to soothe him a little bit. He understands. He’s been through it before.”
The Chargers’ draft picks Saturday:
-No. 113 Rayshawn Jenkins, S, 6-1, 216, Miami.
-No. 151 Desmond King, S, 5-10, 201 Iowa.
-No. 190 Sam Tevi, OT, 6-5, 311, Utah.
-No. 225 Isaac Rochell, DT, 6-2, 280, Notre Dame.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed.
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