San Diego Chargers

Chargers

NFL Team Column
By Scot Acocks
2009 NFL Draft Review

29 April 2010

San Diego Chargers 2010 Draft Picks

Rd 1 Pick #12: RB Ryan Mathews, 5’11” 220 lbs. Fresno State – Grade: C- I did actually pick the Chargers to take Mathews in the second round with the 40th overall pick. Instead they packaged it with the 28th pick in the first round and sent them both to Miami in exchange for the 12th pick overall to get the guy they fell in love with this off-season. Mathews does bring a new dimension to the offense with his blend of size, speed, and strength. He and Darren Sproles could be deadly. I just did not see the need to move up that high in order to get him. In this day and age I do not see one running back being worth two top 40 picks. With those picks they could have at least gotten both Jahvid Best and Toby Gerhart if they desperately needed to address the running back situation, or added another pass-rusher, such as Jerry Hughes or Sergio Kindle as well.

Rd 3 Pick #79: LB Donald Butler, 6’1” 244 lbs. Washington – Grade: B+ Nice addition to the defense. Butler has the size and natural ability to compete and could develop into a nice inside linebacker. He will also get a look outside to see if he can rush the passer and provide some depth in a variety of ways. At the very least they got a guy who can contribute on special teams immediately.

Rd 4 Pick #110: S Darrell Stuckey, 5’11” 205 lbs. Kansas – Grade: B Decent production in college and is a good athlete with a nice 39.5 inch vertical jump. He is a well-respected player with decent ball skills who should contribute in nickel and dime packages as well as special teams. At this point he has great value here.

Rd 5 Pick #146: NT Cam Thomas, 6’4” 331 lbs. North Carolina – Grade: A- A naturally strong and big player who many thought would be a second or third round pick. In most years he probably would have been but this year was deep on tackles. He needs a lot of work on his technique and conditioning but he should be able to contribute as a two-down and short yardage run-stuffer and some day may develop into a pro-bowl caliber player.

Rd 5 Pick #168: QB Jonathon Crompton, 6’3” 222 lbs. Tennessee – Grade: B Never really got it together in college until his senior season (27 TDs) but may still have a lot of upside. He could at least replace Charlie Whitehurst’s presence as the third QB and may just win the backup job outright.

Rd 7 Pick #235: TE Dedrick Epps, 6’3” 250 lbs. Miami – B Will compete for a backup spot but will have to contribute on special teams to stick. Who really knows what you will get out of a backup tight end from Miami in the seventh round?

Final Overall 2010 Draft Grade: B Despite panicking and reaching too high for a running back, the Chargers filled a lot of needs and got some quality players in the middle of the draft. There will now be a lot of pressure on Mathews as he needs to be a pro bowl player to justify trading up to get him in the first round. I really like the Butler, Stuckey, and Thomas picks as I believe they all add a lot more brick and mortar to the defense.

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15 April 2010

San Diego Chargers Mock Draft

            Head Coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith want the Chargers get tougher up front on offense and defense. They got out-muscled by the Jets the playoffs so expect them to take long, hard looks at the defensive and offensive line prospects that are out there. Just as much, a running back with the size and strength to eat up tough yardage and compliment the diminutive Darren Sproles is a high priority as well.

The draft is deep in defensive line prospects so reaching for one with a high pick should not be an option this year. Although the offensive tackle and center positions is somewhat weak overall this year, some good guards prospects should be plentiful later on. If they want to add a quality running back in this draft, however, the organization will have to do it with one of their top two or three picks because there are not many that seem ready to come in and contribute to a playoff-ready NFL team.

Having said all that it is worth mentioning that nobody truly knows how things will pan out in the draft until after it actually happens. For purely hypothetical purposes, let us take a look at how the Chargers may choose to exercise their picks in all seven rounds of the draft. The following mock is a reflection of the type of talent available just as much as it is an indication of the team’s needs on its depth chart.

Rd 1 #28: S Taylor Mays, 6’3” 230 lbs. USC – A freak of an athlete that blew up the scouting combine, Mays could be an imposing presence in the middle of the defense. He is a workout warrior that did not produce many big plays in college and could disappoint his coaches with his inability to quickly diagnose offenses but his potential is worth the pick here. The Chargers could opt for DT Terrence Cody to play the nose here.

Rd 2 #40 (from Seahawks): RB Ryan Mathews, 5’11” 220 lbs. Fresno State – Not the quickest player but has the vision and physical tools to be a type of runner that could help ease the transition out of the LaDainian Tomlinson era. Mathews can break some tackles, cut-back effectively, and catch the ball outside his body. He should compliment the diminutive Darren Sproles very well.

Rd 3 #91: DT Al Woods, 6’3” 312 lbs. LSU – Might at least have the size and strength to provide some depth at the nose. He was part of deep rotation for most of his four years with the Tigers but has enough potential to be big contributor, eventually.

Rd 4 #126: DE/OLB Thaddeus Gibson, 6’2” 240 lbs. Ohio State – A tremendous athlete that is built like a rock and plays hard enough but his lack of instincts and inability to disengage blockers allowed him to be shut down too easily. He should at least be a special teams dynamo.

Rd 5 #159: CB Chris Cook, 6’1” 212 lbs.Virginia – A decent athlete with good size and the ability to play either corner or safety. The Chargers have a decent trio of corners already but could always use the depth.

Rd 5 #168: OG Brandon Carter, 6’5” 326 lbs. Texas Tech – With his ability to maul defenders he could help the Chargers get those tough yards up the middle that they could not get last season.

Rd 7 #235: OL Alex Parsons, 6’4” 300 lbs. USC – A versatile player who is known to put in a lot of effort might end up being a good reserve in the NFL. He has enough size and skills to compete.

By Scot Acocks

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15 February 2010

Chargers Draft Needs

Offensive Backfield

This will be my first in a series of articles addressing what I feel like the Chargers should do in the draft.  I will break the articles down by position groups, and give my assessment on where the team stands today in each area.

Quarterback

This is an area in which I will not spend very much time. Philip Rivers, in my opinion, is an elite quarterback in this league and is well on his way to a great career.  He has come up short in the playoffs thus far, but he is a good young player with great years ahead of himself.  Billy Volek is a solid backup, but he is turning 34 this year and may consider retirement within the next few years.  Third stringer Charlie Whitehurst is a free agent and may explore his opportunities elsewhere since he has spent most of his time as a Charger on the practice squad/inactive list.  They could possibly use a late round pick on a player to replace Whitehurst if he chooses not to re-sign, otherwise they have other needs that are more significant.

Running Back/Fullback

            It seems inevitable to me that LaDainian Tomlinson will not be a Charger in 2010. I personally he could think he can still contribute if used in the proper fashion, but due to his recent comments it seems like he and the organization have decided they are both best fit to go their separate ways. I can see him being a valuable asset as the primary back in goal line situations, mainly because being a good goal line back is more about vision and instincts than it is about size and power, but I digress. LT and the Chargers both seem to be moving on, and it will probably be in the best interest for both parties.

RB Darren Sproles is set to become a free agent, and while General Manager A.J. Smith will most likely be looking to give the speedster a new deal, he is not the every down back this team needs. Head Coach Norv Turner and Offensive Coordinator Clarence Shelmon have found a way for Sproles to be extremely effective in the passing game, on special teams, and occasionally grinding out some tough yards on the ground, but he will not remain effective if the team does not address the need for a true between the tackles runner. I personally see no running backs that fit that mold having first round value, which is why I think the team would be best suited to find some value out of a guy like Stanford’s Toby Gerhart or Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

While a back such as Jahvid Best of Cal or Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech may be available in the 1st round, I don’t believe they will be worth 1st round money, not immediately anyway. Dwyer will get those tough yards between the tackles, but he comes from the Paul Johnson’s triple option system, which is nothing like carrying the mail in an NFL offense. Best is an exceptional athlete with a great burst and that extra gear that scouts look for, but his late season concussion has left a cloud of questions about how healthy he will be come draft day. Fullback is not an issue for the Chargers, even with Mike Tolbert potentially becoming a free agent. Jacob Hester is a solid young fullback, and although I’m sure they would like to re-sign Tolbert, this is not an area that needs to be addressed via the draft.

            This is a very solid offensive unit with an elite quarterback, but if the running game is not attended to, things could go awry quickly in Southern California. Running back should probably be the number one priority in this year’s draft, but it needs to be a smart pick. If there is no one of value available with the 28th pick, look to fix another issue or trade back and stockpile those valuable 2nd to 4th round picks. Stay tuned until next time when I will cover the wide receivers and tight ends. You stay classy San Diego.

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23 January 2010

The San Diego Chargers: Final Grades for 2009

On paper, this is the most talented team in football, with pro-bowl caliber players all over the depth chart. With this talent they should be winning games, and they did go 13-3 during the regular season. However, this team was a real disappointment in the playoffs, losing at home to the 9-7 Jets 17-14 to put an end to their season.

Coaching: B Head Coach Norv Turner guided the team through a great regular season, winning a weak AFC West Division. After the loss to the Jets, management gave him an extension, banking on the idea that Turner’s 3-3 playoff record with the franchise is as good as you’re going to find anywhere else. He and offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon basically share offensive duties and their offense was highly productive over the course of the year, ranking 10th in the league. They need to figure out how to be more physical when facing tough defenses though. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera has done a good job since taking over midway through the ’08 season, with his unit ranking 16th  in the league this year.

Quarterbacks: A Phillip Rivers is a stud. It would be easy to resent him as a fan while watching all the success that Drew Brees is having in New Orleans, considering the Chargers traded Brees to the Saints in favor of giving the job to Rivers in ’06. Billy Volek is one of the best backups in the league with a bit of starting experience but he may eventually be replaced by Charlie Whitehurst, who was a third round draft pick four years ago and possesses a strong arm.
Draft Outlook: Don’t expect too much action here in the draft with these guys on hand. However, Whitehurst may be gone in free agency to team that may let him compete for playing time. The team could opt to draft another guy later on to compete for the backup job.

Running Backs: B LaDainian Tomlinson is not the player he was just two years ago. All those carries he got in his first five seasons have definitely caught up to him. Darren Sproles has helped ease the pain with his big-play ability but nobody expects him to carry the load in the long run. Besides, he is a free agent this year and could be gone.
Draft Outlook: An eventual replacement for Tomlinson is needed but there really isn’t much talent to be had in this draft at running back. Stanford’s Toby Gerhart or Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer would be the best options for them in the first round. They would bring some toughness that is sorely lacking from this team in the running game.

Wide Receivers: B+ This unit was good enough for the team to trade away Chris Chambers to the Chiefs. Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson both are big enough to be tight ends. They form a nice duo that can simply over-power opposing defensive backs but they both are free agents this year. Legedu Naanee had 24 catches as the third man.
Draft Outlook: There will be a slew of decent receivers available rounds two, three, and four and the team will jump on the right guy if he’s available. Illinois’ Arellious Benn or Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard might be nice options late in round one.

Tight Ends: A- Antonio Gates continues to be one of the best in the game and he is in his sixth season.
Draft Outlook: The team could grab a talented guy to compete for a backup spot behind Gates in round two. Florida’s Aaron Hernandez, Oregon’s Ed Dickson, or Wisconsin’s Garrett Graham all could be available.

Offensive Line: C- These guys are really nothing special as the Chargers ranked dead last in average yards per rush and 31st in total rushing yards. Left tackle Marcus McNeil is also a free agent. They only gave up 26 sacks though, which is good.
Draft Outlook: There really doesn’t look to be much depth at offensive line in this year’s draft. Most of the top talent will be gone by the time the Chargers pick in round one and then it is all down hill from there. Idaho’s Mike Iupati would be a nice addition in round one and Illinois guard Jon Asamoah may be available in round two. That all may be wishful thinking as teams will look to jump on good O-line prospects while they are still available.

Defensive Line: C- The run defense, which won’t work without a formidable front line, ranked 20th in the league, giving up 4.5 yards per rush. That is a number that needs to change as it ultimately led to their doom against the Jets, who are averaging 4.3 yards per rush in the postseason.
Draft Outlook: An eventual replacement for nose tackle Jamal Williams would be nice. Luckily this is a great year for tackles and a big plugger for the middle might be found later on. Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody (6’5” 365 lbs) could still be there in round one and help out immediately on first and second downs, and Penn State’s Jared Odrick, another first round possibility, could play end in the Charger’s 3-4 scheme. Western Illinois’Abe Koroma (6’3” 317 lbs) or Georgia’s Kade Weston (6’5” 325 lbs) could both be late round sleepers that the team could develop to fit the role at nose.

Linebackers: Shawn Merriman returned after missing all of last year with a knee injury and recorded just four sacks. He is a free agent this year and his backup, Larry English, chipped in two sacks of his own. Shawn Phillips recorded seven sacks from the other side. The Chargers were 13th in the league in sacks with 35 overall. Stephen Cooper recorded 102 tackles from inside. Brandon Siler, who was the other inside man, made 67 stops next to him, not doing much to help the 20th ranked rush defense.
Draft Outlook: Finding another inside guy to compete with Siler and help the team improve on run defense would be nice, as well as another guy who could rush the passer on third downs. There will be a lot of 3-4 outside ‘backer-type pass-rushers outside of round one. If the team wants a quality inside man they may need to take one early.

Defensive Backs: The Chargers ranked 11th in the league with 209 yards per game allowed through the air but only nabbed 14 interceptions. The starters are all solid if unspectacular, and nickelback Antoine Cason is decent too.
Draft Outlook: Somebody to compete at safety would be great but not much is needed. This unit would benefit from improved play up front, especially in the sack department.

Special Teams: The team was 14th in the league in kick returns, which is decent, and they they were 21st in kick coverage. Nate Kaeding was tied for first in field goals making 91% of his attempts. The team was 31st in punting, which does not help in the battle for field position.

By Scot Acocks

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7 May 2009

The 2009 NFL Draft Review
                 
The San Diego Chargers managed to get into the playoffs last year and even win a game but they just didn’t have what it took to get to the Super Bowl.  This draft was a key draft for them because it would have allowed them to fill some of the holes that they had and while they managed to do that to a certain degree, they closed out the 2009 NFL Draft still in need of a few key pieces.

The following is a player look at the Charger’s draft this year.  At the end of the article there will be an overall grade for the Charger’s draft.

Larry English-DE/OLB-Northern Illinois picked 1st (16th)
The Chargers needed a compliment to linebacker Shawne Merriman and they got it when they made English their first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.  While it may have been a bit of a reach to take English with the 16th pick in the first round if he does develop he will give the Chargers one of the most dangerous pass rushing defenses in the NFL.  This could help get the Chargers closer to their goal of making the Super Bowl.

Louis Vasquez-OG-Texas Tech picked 3rd (78th)
The Chargers needed some help on the offensive line and picked one of the toughest and strongest players in the draft with their third pick filling a need that they had and drafting a potential starter.  If Vasquez picks things up quickly, he could contend for a starting spot in 2009.

Vaughn Martin-DT-Western Ontario picked 4th (113th)
The Chargers may have reached a bit here as well but Martin, who played in Canada, is a promising prospect with a lot of upside.  He is another player who, if he can develop, could be a real find for the Chargers in this draft.

Tyronne Greene-OG-Auburn picked 4th (33rd)
San Diego went for some additional depth on the offensive line by taking Green and Green has a great chance of making the active roster at the end of training camp.  The Chargers really did well adding some depth to the offensive line in this year’s draft.

Gartrell Johnson-RB-Colorado State picked 4th (134th)
The Chargers probably could have used a higher pick on a running back especially since it looks like this may quite possibly be LaDanlian Tomlinson’s final season with the team.  Johnson is a good backup but he doesn’t have starting potential so the Chargers will have to seek someone with starting potential out in next year’s draft.

Brandon Hughes-CB-Oregon State picked 5th (148th)
Hughes is a depth pick who can play in the nickel and on special teams.  He is an interesting prospect with a lot of upside.

Kevin Ellison-S-USC picked 6th (189th)
Ellison is a true student of the game and one of the better picks by the Chargers in this draft.  What he lacks in athleticism he more than makes up for in intelligence and ability and could be a potential steal for the Chargers at this point in the draft.

Demetrius Byrd-WR-LSU picked 7th (224th)
Somewhat of a questionable selection after Byrd was involved in a car accident shortly before the draft, the Chargers may have gotten a bit of a steal here if he can come back healthy and ready to play after his accident.

The Chargers may have needed to do more on their defensive line to help shore up some of the holes that will be there at the start of training camp in and in the next season or two.  As stated, Tomlinson isn’t going to be around for much longer so getting a good running back was a must in this draft.  They do have some leeway thanks to Darren Sproles being there but they should start developing the “heir apparent” right away.  If English manages to come on strong during his first season, he and Merriman could easily help make this one of the better defenses in the AFC.

Grade: B-

By Bryan Dietzler

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