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To extend Philip Rivers’ career, he needs assistance. The chance to do that arrives during the upcoming NFL draft says Jay Paris. File photo by Bill Reilly
Community Sports

Jay Paris: When feeling the draft, protecting Rivers is Bolts’ top goal

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Super Bowl 50 came and went but not without a local impact.

The Chargers had to be watching, and we trust Philip Rivers wasn’t closing his eyes.

Denver linebacker Von Miller was a blur for most the game, spending as much time in the Panthers backfield as Cam Newton. The Super Bowl 50 MVP had 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and left Newton mumbling to himself — and the media — in the game’s aftermath.

The Broncos were the clear winners, making hay for what was likely Peyton Manning’s last rodeo.

The fallout for Denver is worrying about its quarterback situation next season.

The takeaway for the Chargers is being concerned on how to protect theirs.

Rivers isn’t getting younger, despite his boyish charm and stellar numbers. Rivers enters his 13th season and the clock ticks on what has been an amazing career.

The Chargers realize Rivers, 34, probably has three to four solid years left. Manning became the oldest winning Super Bowl quarterback at 39, thanks to his complementary parts. He didn’t claim his second Lombardi Trophy by flinging passes around like he had since his days at Tennessee.

But as the Chargers enter their offseason waltz, they can’t forget Miller’s moves.

And please, Bolts, remember Oakland’s emerging pass-rushing star in Khalil Mack — same goes for Kansas City, the Chargers’ other AFC West foe. It brings Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, a tandem which upsets quarterbacks more than throwing into the wind with a slippery ball.

To extend Rivers’ career, he needs assistance. The chance to do that arrives during the upcoming NFL draft.

That was also the Chargers’ goal in the last draft and they failed miserably. The plan was to climb the board, snag Melvin Gordon and let the Heisman Trophy finalist’s running keep Rivers from harm’s way.

But Gordon was a flop, and whether you flip that blame on him, the offensive line, coach Mike McCoy or two offensive assistants shown the door, is your call.

What isn’t up for debate is Gordon being a square peg in the Chargers’ big hole of running the ball. Before Gordon’s season came to a premature end, he didn’t collect a touchdown. And his next 100-yard rushing game will be his first.

Here’s how the Chargers strike gold with the draft’s third pick.

Snag another wide receiver, especially one with some giddy-up, to take defensive pressure off Keenan Allen?

Check, but that’s down the list.

Get a sack-master to call their own, one with more bite and consistency than Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attachou?

That does make our heart pitter-patter, but that’s No. 2.

Instead the Chargers can’t miss on a prospect from Ole Miss: left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Haven’t heard of Mississippi’s Tunsil? That’s good, because if you’re watching a quarterback’s blind side, your name only gets called when disaster strikes.

But the Chargers know about Tunsil and you can bet Rivers would love a 6-foot-5, 305-pounder, who allowed but two sacks in 28 games, protecting him.

To get Tunsil, the Chargers need a break and they are due, right?

The Titans, with the first pick, reach for Ohio State linebacker Joey Bosa. Maybe they think he’s their future Von Miller and let’s hope so.

The Browns, after fumbling with Johnny Football, need a quarterback. They pick between Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

Then the Chargers clear their tonsils and scream, “Tunsil.”

Chargers fans would likely shrug, but Rivers will undoubtedly smile.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.