Player Interviews

Small-School Tackle Plays His Way onto the Bolts’ Radar


It is no secret the Chargers are in the market for offensive line help. GM Tom Telesco is searching high and low for any big man who can keep Philip Rivers upright and open holes for Melvin Gordon. It’s an exhaustive, ongoing search, one that has brought the Chargers to an unexpected place — Western Michigan.

The Broncos, who play in the Mid-American Conference, are not exactly an NFL farm team. But they do have one prospect who has piqued San Diego’s interests: Willie Beavers.
A three-year starter at left tackle, Beavers has the size (6’5”, 309 lbs.) and quickness the Bolts are seeking.

He got a chance to impress Chargers scouts at last month’s Senior Bowl and took full advantage.

“It’s an awesome opportunity. I’ve been watching [the Senior Bowl] ever since I started playing football,” he said. “It really gives me a chance to go up against the best of the best and prove I am one of the best.”

Beavers is correct in that the Senior Bowl is especially beneficial for small-school players. It gives them a chance to put to rest any concerns that their college productivity was the result of facing a lower level of competition.

Beavers has always been confident his skill-set translates well to the pro level.

“It’s [because of] my quickness off the ball and my athleticism for my size,” he explained. “Also, my ability to create movement in the run game.”

This is an odd situation where Beavers is considered both raw and experienced. He will need some time to adapt to the speed of the NFL game, yet he already has three years of starting experience under his belt.

All of Beaver’s experience has come at tackle. He played right tackle in high school and began his career at Western Michigan on the right side, as well. He made the switch to left tackle before appearing in his first collegiate game and immediately became an anchor on the Broncos’ blindside.

Despite this, some NFL scouts believe he is better suited to play guard in the NFL.
“I’ve heard [scouts say] any position and I feel comfortable playing any position on the offensive line,” he said.

Beavers is ready to make the change if asked and is confident he can do so seamlessly.

“Just [because of] my natural abilities,” he said. “It’s a challenge but I’m up for it.”

Offensive linemen who can play inside and outside are becoming increasingly valuable. Take one look at what happened to San Diego’s offensive line last season and it’s easy to see why. If Beavers can provide depth at multiple positions, it makes him that much more valuable and that much more likely to be active on game days.

Beavers certainly has the right mindset for a swing position.

“I’m willing to play any position any team needs me to play,” he said. “If it’s center, it’s center. If it’s catching a punt return, then it’s catching a punt return.”

The Chargers need help on punt returns, too, but that will have to come from somewhere else (see our piece on Harlan Miller, for example). As for the desperately needed help on the offensive line, Beavers seems fully capable of lending a (massive) helping hand or two.

Beavers is expected to be drafted anywhere between Round 3-5. So, if Telesco can resist the urge to trade away his fourth-round pick for the first time in his tenure as general manager, Beavers may find himself sporting lightning bolts come spring time.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

Recommended for you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *