The Chargers have struggled mightily along the offensive line since the years of Kris Deilman, Nick Hardwick and Marcus McNeil. In those days, Ladanian Tomlinson was in his prime, with multiple 1000 yard rushing seasons, and helped him to break so many records. Since then, the Chargers have not faired quite as well, especially in the Tom Telesco era of teams, often ranking as one of the worst lines in many consecutive seasons. Insert James Campen!
James Campen is a former player, who played Center to Bobby Hebert in New Orleans in 1987, and a revolving door full of signal callers in Green Bay. He would play is his final season snapping to Brett Farve, before retiring in 1993. For an un-un-drafted free agent, you could say he had a pretty successful career, playing 7 years in the National Football League. Campen, while a decent professional player, would later make a bigger mark as a coach years later.
Campen joined the Green Bay staff in 2004, and eventually took over as the teams offensive line coach 2007. In his time with the Packers, he helped the offense be a top-10 best in 9 of 11 seasons and won a Super Bowl. He has coached Pro Bowl caliber players, such as David Bakhtiari, Scott Wells, Chad Clifton, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang. It seems like the Packers have had strong offensive lines the entire career of Aaron Rodgers, and a large part of that is attributed to Campen.
The Chargers have some young players who Campen will be instrumental in getting more out of. Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney are players from the same draft class and both were graded as the best interior lineman that class had to offer. The Chargers drafted them back to back, and neither player has lived up to their pedigree. Trey Pipkins was drafted to eventually take over the Left Tackle position when Russell Okung’s contract is up next year. Scott Quessenberry may end up the starting Center next season. All these players are 25-years-old or younger and all are expected to be contributors to this team.
Another thing your getting with Campen is a wealth of knowledge. Campen is well liked by his former players, and he has been around the league a long time. If you don’t think that effects free agent lineman, think again. It significantly increases the likelyhood of a player coming to a team like the Chargers, knowing that a coach of his caliber will be able to get the most out of his players. Campen will be a magnet this season for great players on the offensive line. Jack Conklin should be the primary target, but Bryan Bulaga might end up being the signing.
Bryan Bulaga played Right Tackle under Campen from 2010-2017. Its more likely that if the Packers do move on from Bulaga, that Campen would likely push for a player he is familiar with. There is a monstrous need for a Tevi replacement, and Bulaga makes a ton of sense as a player to lock down the right side for the next 2-3 years. Bulaga graded as the 16 best tackle on either side and 7th best Right Tackle on the season. While turning 31, he is an above average player who would upgrade the right side significantly.
The Signing of James Campen is the type of signing that can change a culture. The Chargers have been flat out embarrassing, and with so many young lineman on the team, the Chargers could really use the knowledge and expertise of a coach like James Campen. This might turn out to be more important then any signing over the off season. Good job from Anthony Lynn in luring Campen from Cleveland to Los Angeles!