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2009 Chargers NFL draft review

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Loren Casuto
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    Another day, another draft and another bunch of picks that have led Charger fans to want to tear their hair out. This draft more then anything will be A.J. Smith true scout draft. A.J. was put on notice and admitted as such that he hasn't picked well over the last few years, he also said he had to draft better. As such, the pressure is entirely on him, and if this draft doesn't pan out in the next few years, it could spell the end of A.J. Smith's time as general manager. With that said, here are the picks.
    <strong>
    First Round: Larry English DE/OLB Northern Illinois</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://images.athlonsports.com/d/14671-1/Larry+English+N+ILL.jpg"><img title="Larry English" src="http://images.athlonsports.com/d/14671-1/Larry+English+N+ILL.jpg" alt="Larry English" width="144" height="188" /></a></div>

    There were a lot of very unhappy and confused Charger fans when this pick was made. With Rey Maualuga and Michael Oher on the board at the same time, both fan favorites, the Chargers took a road unexpected. English is a two time conference MVP, the first time that has happened, more unexpected considering he's a defensive player and most astonishing that only had around 37 total tackles. He's very mature, very clean cut, very high motor and plays with a nasty chip on his shoulder. He's also a very good pass rusher and very solid against the rush. There are some questions about his durability (though it's also a positive as he played through pain) and he needs to learn more about coverage as well as how to play upright. Charger fans can think of him as a faster version of Steve Foley; powerful, angry and willing to take someone's head off in the run or pass. There's talk of him playing at both OLB and even of him bulking up and playing at DE in the 3-4.

    This is considered to be a shot across the bows of both Shawne Merriman (coming back from injury, in contract year) and Shaun Phillips (can't be a playmaker on his own). AJ Smith also, in a press conference, noted how important pass rush is and how the Chargers of 2008 had none. Let's face it; without Merriman we became a mediocre, at best, defense who had quarterbacks stand in the pocket and just shred us to pieces. If Merriman or Phillips misses time this year, as they have in the past, then AJ sees a team that becomes very vulnerable. As a fan I understand why this pick was made, but unless English turns into a very good pass rusher, this will go down as a bad pick.

    <strong>Third Round: Louis Vasquez OG Texas Tech</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://www.nationalchamps.net/2008/sub/pics/small/texastech_louis_vasquez.jpg"><img title="Louis Vasquez" src="http://www.nationalchamps.net/2008/sub/pics/small/texastech_louis_vasquez.jpg" alt="Louis Vasquez" width="141" height="139" /></a></div>

    I thought the Chargers would go into the draft with the guard position set and the tackle position to be addressed. The Chargers had resigned Kynan Forney, had Scott Mrzucowski under contract and thought highly of Corey Clark, so three players for one spot whereas it was just Clary at right tackle. Obviously the Chargers thought the exact opposite as they took Vasquez and another guard in the next round. But first to Louis Vasquez, who is the opposite of what you might think. At 6'4 333lbs, you might think he's a powerful run blocker. While he does run block well, he's actually a better pass blocker because of Texas Tech's spread pass offense. He had more chances to pass block then to run block, although this year Texas Tech was as balanced as a spread offense can be. He's good in a phone booth, very aware and very nasty in the trenches. He needs to learn to play better with his hand on the ground (he stood up more in college) and needs to learn better hand placement in both run and pass blocking. Nevertheless he's a very big, very tough and very powerful guard who could give some much needed physicality and power to a weak right side. He will compete with Kynan Forney and Scott Mrzucowski for the right guard spot and could conceivably start. Also this fits in with A.J's philosophy of lining up the players and let them compete for a job.

    <strong>Fourth Round (1): Vaughn Martin DT Western University (Ontario)</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://media.scout.com/Media/Image/36/367325.jpg"><img title="Vaughn Martin" src="http://media.scout.com/Media/Image/36/367325.jpg" alt="Vaughn Martin" width="150" height="200" /></a></div>

    For the team that has everything, a Canadian. This was one massive head scratcher at first as no one had anything about this guy. Upon further review with my sources (aka Google) I found one incredible potential talent. He's 6'3, weights 331lbs, ran a 5.04 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225lbs 32 times. His teammates named his "Vicious", that's not important but it is impressive. He is known for having a quick first step and a powerful thrust into the line, and with his size he could easily occupy two blockers. Supposedly he also has an incredible work ethic and is willing to work hard at everything he does. The Chargers are looking at him as both a DE now and as a future nose tackle, but he is still a project. He has played at a low level (probably lower then a I-AA pick) and needs a lot of work on technique and hand placement, but AJ is clearly looking to the future with this pick. And like another player with ridiculous talent that no one else saw, a guy named Antonio Gates, this could turn into the find of a life time. Some might wonder if this was way too early for such a raw prospect, but the other team believed to have interest in him were the Colts, who were on the clock a few picks after the Chargers.

    <strong>Fourth Round (2): Tyronne Green OG/C Auburn</strong>
    The Chargers double dipped on interior line help with another big guard who can play center. Signed as a defensive tackle Greene switched to the offensive line two years ago and has held an interior job ever since, first as a center then as a guard. He shows above average awareness and agility with a good mean streak but remains primarily a technician. He's solid in both the run and pass game but needs to show better lower body strength and consistency. But he remains a very well balanced, technically sound interior lineman who can play both guard and center. He will compete with Louis Vasquez, Scott Mrzucowski, Kynan Forney and Corey Clark for the right guard spot, but is thought of initially as a backup center, something the Chargers need since Jeremy Newberry moved on.
    <strong>
    Fourth Round (3): Gartrell Johnson RB Colorado State</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://theredzonereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/gartrell_johnson.jpg"><img title="Gartell Johnson" src="http://theredzonereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/gartrell_johnson.jpg" alt="Gartell Johnson" width="150" height="161" /></a></div>

    It was well known from the start that the Chargers would draft a running back somewhere in the seven rounds, and some pundits (like me) thought a back would come somewhere in the three fourth round picks the Chargers had. Johnson is considered the leader, heart and soul of the Colorado State Rams team. He's a big back at 219lbs and plays hard from the start to the end. He's a willing blocker and considered to be a decent cutback runner. He plays similar to former Charger Jesse Chatman; not the most athletic player or the fastest but does not stop and can run through people with decent enough speed. Johnson is a good complimentary back to the quicker Tomlinson and Sproles, and with Hester can form a good jumbo set. This is a good pick, but it remains to be seen if he's either a complimentary player or will be the heir to Ladanian Tomlinson.

    <strong>Fifth Round Brandon Hughes CB Oregon State</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://media.scout.com/media/image/58/580303.jpg"><img title="Brandon Hughes" src="http://media.scout.com/media/image/58/580303.jpg" alt="Brandon Hughes" width="124" height="165" /></a></div>

    A depth pick and a challenger to Cletis Gordon and Dejuan Tribble, Hughes honed his skill playing in the competitive PAC-10. At 5'10, 182lbs Hughes has good speed but doesn't have great bulk for his size. However that hasn't stopped him from willingly mixing it up with bigger receivers in bump-and-run. He has great closing and recovery speed. Hughes is a hard charging competitor that doesn't quit until the play is over and is willing to mix it up in run support. However he has to work on both his ball skills (namely turning his head around a'la Quentin Jammer) and his footwork. Pursuant to the AJ Smith philosophy, Hughes will compete for a dime back spot with Cletis Gordon (who is still burnt from the Divisional Playoff game), DeJuan Tribble and possibly Paul Oliver. There's also talk that this could be a shot across the bow of Antonio Cromartie; the Chargers have one up and coming cornerback in Antoine Cason, and if Hughes can stick, he might steal the nickel back spot. If Cromartie has another bad year where he's constantly burnt, then he might not even be able to secure a third corner spot.

    <strong>Sixth Round Kevin Ellison S/OLB USC</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sWNltaRN-HM/RtO13jHid0I/AAAAAAAAAUA/FmFFScVus74/s400/Kevin+Ellison+at+Arkansas+2006.JPG"><img title="Kevin Ellison" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sWNltaRN-HM/RtO13jHid0I/AAAAAAAAAUA/FmFFScVus74/s400/Kevin+Ellison+at+Arkansas+2006.JPG" alt="Kevin Ellison" width="130" height="178" /></a></div>

    Kevin Ellison is an interesting player, he did not run well at the combine and is considered to be far too slow to be a safety and has had numerous surgeries on his legs and knees. Even with that Ellison is considered to be a very intelligent, very nasty football player. Ellison was known to be an incredibly hard hitter with incredible instincts and the ability to close well and jar the ball carrier. While he tackles well he does have some trouble with open field tackles and has only adequate ball skills. It is unknown whether the Chargers plan to use him at safety or linebacker but Ellison brings something to the safety position we haven't had in nearly eight years; physicality. If he sticks and the Chargers think he's faster then his playing time, he could be a powerful compliment to FS Eric Weddle.

    <strong>Seventh Round Demetrius Byrd WR LSU</strong>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://photos.al.com/photos/alphotos/020b07fe334f0555ebf2d2620599bbae.jpg"><img title="Demetrius Byrd" src="http://photos.al.com/photos/alphotos/020b07fe334f0555ebf2d2620599bbae.jpg" alt="Demetrius Byrd" width="127" height="160" /></a></div>

    Of all the picks, this is an honorable one. At this writing Byrd is still in the hospital after being in a traffic accident in Louisiana, at one point this past week he was in the ICU. Byrd is expected to make a full recovery but it is not known when he will be able to get on the field. He is considered to be a talented deep threat with incredible speed off the line and goes flying by defenders. He is also willing to go over the middle and risk his body there as well as in blocking. He has good hands as well but needs a lot of work on route running and needs to expand his game as more then just a deep threat. There are also questions regarding his ego that need to be answered. The Chargers picked up a good sleeper who now has an even stronger reason to get well as fast as possible.

    Draft Grade: B-
    This was dramatic only in terms of fan reaction. People have responded with everything from "good draft" to cursing and screaming. This was a very unique draft in who and where the players were chosen. However there is one uniting adjective amongst all the players; ‘nasty'. All these players are considered to be hard charging, tough and play until the end of the play. This is a team that went from 2006 being a very tough team to 2008 where they were considered to be soft and finesse. A.J. added a lot of players known for being tough and hard charging; maybe the shot in the arm the Chargers have been missing recently. In terms of needs the Chargers did pretty well; they finally got a backup running back and a backup nose tackle, they got another pass rusher, two guards, a safety, a wide receiver and a cornerback. Basically they met all their needs with the exception of defensive end and offensive tackle, both of which the team apparently doesn't consider a need.

    The Chargers have added something that fans and draftnicks have been demanding for years; beef. There's nearly half a ton of fresh new beef, including two huge linemen. And all of the new drafts bring passion and fire to a team that is gaining its most fiery competitor back. If the draft picks can come in and provide help to our current starters, then the Chargers can become a very special team again.
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