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2013 NFL mock draft: Star Lotulelei to San Diego Chargers

We've got our first big surprise pick of the mock thanks to Chargers blog Bolts from the Blue.

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The San Diego Chargers are desperate for a left tackle after the enigmatic Jared Gaither left the team with a mess at the position in 2012. Yet here we are with the Chargers on the clock in the SB Nation NFL bloggers' mock draft, Bolts from the Blue is up, and he's taking... a defensive tackle? John Gennaro explains...

Team Player Position Height Weight Class
11. San Diego Chargers Star Lotulelei, Utah DT 6'6 311 SR

John Gennaro: "The common choice here is Lane Johnson, as the San Diego Chargers struggled to protect Philip Rivers last season. However, Jared Gaither is still on the roster (even after the team cut Takeo Spikes, Atari Bigby, Antonio Garay and Randy McMichael) and the Chargers have already taken a few steps towards improving pass protection for Rivers.

"Aubrayo Franklin signing with the Indianapolis Colts put the Chargers in a bind with their defensive line. They have four defensive linemen on the roster, one of which (Damik Scafe) has spent almost his entire career on the practice squad. Cam Thomas has never really been considered to be a starter at nose tackle, but is now the only real choice. The problem, besides a total lack of depth at a position where John Pagano likes to rotate players to keep them fresh, is that Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season.

"Star Lotulelei fits what new GM Tom Telesco has been preaching as his draft strategy in that he’s the best player available with the No. 11 pick. He provides much-needed depth to the defensive line, which will help take pressure off the Linebackers and Secondary (both lacking talent and depth), while keeping the Chargers from having to use valuable cap space on Cam Thomas next offseason."

Here's our own Dan Kadar to break down the pick:

It’s true, everyone thinks that if Lane Johnson is available that he’s the pick for the Chargers. It would be an excellent choice. Maybe the perfect choice. Gaither hasn’t been cut, it’s true. But in two years in San Diego, he’s only played nine games. In fact, those nine starts are all Gaither’s had since 2010. It’s a dangerous gamble to rely on him.

Lotulelei would help the Chargers’ defense. But a player like Johnson could have a bigger impact. The talent at tackle takes a decided drop after Johnson. After Lotulelei, there are still a lot of good defensive linemen that could be found.

We've got one more pick coming your way today at 3PM ET, when The Phinsider will choose for the rain-making Miami Dolphins. Stay tuned!

Top 5 Players Remaining

# Player Pos. College Ht. Wt.
5 Sheldon Richardson * DT Missouri 6'3" 294
11 Bjoern Werner * DE Florida State 6'3" 266
12 Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina 6'2" 311
13 Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma 6'6" 303
15 Arthur Brown LB Kansas State 6'0" 241

2013 SB Nation NFL Writers' Mock Draft Results

No. Team Player Pos. College
1 Kansas City Chiefs Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M
2 Jacksonville Jaguars Geno Smith QB West Virginia
3 Oakland Raiders Sharrif Floyd DT Florida
4 Philadelphia Eagles Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan
5 Detroit Lions Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU
6 Cleveland Browns Dion Jordan OLB Oregon
7 Arizona Cardinals Barkevious Mingo OLB LSU
8 Buffalo Bills Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia
9 New York Jets Chance Warmack OG Alabama
10 Tennessee Titans Dee Milliner CB Alabama
11 San Diego Chargers Star Lotulelei DT Utah