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2016 NFL mock draft: Cody Whitehair the pick for the San Diego Chargers

Whether he's playing guard or center for the Chargers, the Kansas State blocker is the smart choice.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

In the first round of the SB Nation NFL writers mock draft, the Chargers added the splashy star player on defense by selecting defensive back Jalen Ramsey with the No. 3 pick. Although the Chargers still need some pieces on defense, the team will always live and die by how well the offense plays. John Gennaro of Bolts from the Blue is here to make a move that gives a boost to the offense.

35. Chargers: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

Gennaro: The San Diego Chargers need some help on the offensive line. Last season, they had trouble just fielding a starting offensive line with five healthy bodies, which led to them giving up 40 sacks and and averaging a league-low 3.5 yards per carry.

While the team is pretty much set at the starting tackle and guard spots (assuming everyone is healthy), center is a major question mark for this team and has been since Nick Hardwick’s sudden retirement after Week 1 in 2014. Whitehair would be the team’s best option at center and would seemingly have the skills to take over where Hardwick left off.

A four-year starter who has scouts raving about his leadership, Whitehair is exactly the type of player that this front office has shown a penchant for drafting. At No. 35, he’s a tremendous value at a position of need.

Analysis: It's easy to criticize running back Melvin Gordon, San Diego's first-round pick in 2015. He didn't score a touchdown and had just 641 yards on 184 carries as a rookie. Considering the line play, though, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he struggled. Adding Whitehair -- and probably another lineman or two this draft -- will go a long way toward maximizing Gordon's considerable talent. It's not a sexy choice, but a necessary one.

Dan's Top 5 players remaining

  • 20. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
  • 24. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
  • 33. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
  • 35. Joshua Perry, OLB, Ohio State
  • 36. Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

Chargers picks

  • 1-3: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
  • 2-35: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

One more pick for the day is coming up at 3 p.m. ET with Baltimore Beatdown making pick No. 36 for the Ravens.

Complete draft results:

First round

1. Tennessee Titans - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss (Link)
2. Cleveland Browns - Jared Goff, QB, Cal (Link)
3. San Diego Chargers - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State (Link)
4. Dallas Cowboys - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (Link)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Link)
6. Baltimore Ravens - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Link)
7. San Francisco 49ers - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (Link)
8. Philadelphia Eagles - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (Link)
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (Link)
10. New York Giants - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (Link)
11. Chicago Bears - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (Link)
12. New Orleans Saints - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (Link)
13. Miami Dolphins - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Link)
14. Oakland Raiders - Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (Link)
15. Los Angeles Rams - Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (Link)
16. Detroit Lions - Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (Link)
17. Atlanta Falcons - Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (Link)
18. Indianapolis Colts - Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (Link)
19. Buffalo Bills - Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama (Link)
20. New York Jets - Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (Link)
21. Washington - Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (Link)
22. Houston Texans - Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (Link)
23. Minnesota Vikings - Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (Link)
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (Link)
25. Pittsburgh Steelers - William Jackson, CB, Houston (Link)
26. Seattle Seahawks - Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida (Link)
27. Green Bay Packers - Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (Link)
28. Kansas City Chiefs - Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech (Link)
29. Arizona Cardinals - Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss (Link)
30. Carolina Panthers - Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson (Link)
31. Denver Broncos - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (Link)

Second round

32. Cleveland Browns - Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (Link)
33. Tennessee Titans - Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
34. Dallas Cowboys - Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville