Marcus McNeill (Donald Miralle/Getty)
The NFL Combine is in full swing and the Chargers coaching staff wasted no time in grabbing a coveted offensive lineman for one-on-one time. Amberly Richardson reports from Indianapolis that the Chargers met with a tackle who can bring continuity to the line.
They say that he who plays with a tiger must expect to be scratched…and that’s exactly what the Chargers are hoping to see.
King Dunlap of Auburn met with the Chargers coaching staff Wednesday evening for a little face time. At a massive 6'8", 310 pounds, the Bolts only saw the budding gargantuan body and familiar stature.
“Marcus McNeill is a great tackle. With both of us being (almost) 6'9" with long arms, I got that comparison a lot down at Auburn,” Dunlap said.
“I played behind Marcus McNeill for a couple years, so I’m good friends with him.”
Dunlap, the tallest player in the draft, hopes to be reunited with McNeill in San Diego. Dunlap is proficient enough to play on either side of the line, so this left-handed player is ready to be McNeil’s right-hand man.
After being named to preseason watch lists entering his senior year, Dunlap found himself benched following nagging injuries to his elbow, knee and ankle. He started only four games in his final season with the Tigers and is banking on his junior success to get him drafted.
The Chargers are focusing on Dunlap’s potential as opposed to his production. The Bolts are hopeful that McNeill, who has been to two Pro Bowls in as many seasons, can be a positive influence on Dunlap. If McNeil instills his stamina and discipline on this nascent star, then the two could be a dynamite combo.
The Chargers offensive line could use a player like Dunlap. Shane Olivea struggles with top pass rushers and was demoted late in the season. Jeromey Clary stepped in to fill Olivea's role, but Clary has yet to prove he is the long-term solution.
Dunlap has the power and experience to challenge for playing time by Week 1.
“I wasn’t an offensive lineman all my life. I actually used to be skinny," Dunlap said. "Just watching McNeill, watching how he played the game and the techniques he used, it helped me learn the offense down at Auburn, as well.”
Dunlap’s impressive size still allows him swiftness and quick feet. Combined with his long arms, he has great pass-blocking potential. His natural athleticism gives him the balance and control to remain square to his defender. Opponents might be surprised with his clever and rapid pace off the snap.
Dunlap hopes his performance at the Combine will buoy his overall draft ranking. With a strong showing, he could find himself playing alongside McNeill once again.