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Chargers’ roster is a bit more ready

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by CoronaDoug, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Official Hater

    Feb 14, 2007
    SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2010 AT 12:25 A.M.

    Contact Nick:
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    All football men — some real good, some real incompetent — dream similar dreams in their NFL bedrooms. It’s a common offseason occurrence, but then the September alarm clock goes off and the same losers wake up with the same hangovers.

    But this isn’t the day for us to concern ourselves with other pigskinheads sleeping under a warm blanket of sweet thoughts.

    What we wonder now is if the Chargers are a better team the day after the draft than they were when the Jets beat them in the playoffs.

    Of course, they believe they are. And so do I. They did just enough right in this draft of collegiate talent to get better. Of course, that probably happened in many other places, but the Chargers only can worry about themselves, because if they get better, they’re still going to be better than most everybody else.

    The key is to avoid slippage. In this case, given their status as one of The League’s elite outfits, does this draft give them enough lift to take the extra step?

    “I think we’re better; we’ll have to see,” says General Manager A.J. Smith, the architect of San Diego’s draft. “We’ve added some outstanding players and we have some young players on this team. Play better. Grow together.

    “I hope success helps move you along. We have unbelievable injuries early on (in 2009) and we rip off 11 wins in a row, get to the playoffs, at home, and what do we do? We don’t go anywhere. All of a sudden, we’ve got to earn it again.

    “We’ve loaded it up. Now let’s hit the beach and go after it.”

    Head coach Norv Turner is even more convinced than his GM, maybe because he has no other choice.

    “This is a team that went into Dallas last year and won, went into some tough places and won 13 games,” he says. “And we’re going to be a better team this year. No question we’ve gotten better.”

    Smith had to do two things in this draft.

    No. 1, he had to somehow find a franchise running back to replace LaDainian Tomlinson, but picking 28th overall, it was going to be all but inconceivable. So the GM swapped places with Miami in the first round, gave up his second-round pick — 40th overall, his “gold bar” — and moved up to 12th to take Fresno State tailback Ryan Mathews.

    I’ve sat across the desk from Smith following each of the seven drafts he’s orchestrated here as GM, and I can’t remember him being as excited about a player as he is with Mathews.

    “He reminds me of Ryan Mathews, that’s who he reminds me of — a championship-level back,” Smith says. “He’s tremendously talented, but what he will become in the NFL is on him now. All I know is that, when I watch Ryan Mathews, I see Ryan Mathews.”

    Look, this kid has yet to take a snap, but the Chargers were last in yards-per-carry from scrimmage in 2009, so it’s hard to imagine them being worse. On his way out of town, Tomlinson placed the blame on Turner and his offensive line, conveniently airbrushing himself out of the photo. Whatever. Smith thought his O linemen good enough to not bother drafting any.

    No. 2, Smith had to get an enormous human being to play nose tackle. He found one in Saturday’s fifth round, when he drafted North Carolina State’s Cam Thomas, all 6-4, 335 pounds of him. They say he can lift tractor engines.

    Thomas slipped in this draft, primarily because he has been known to take time off during games. But that’s not unusual for huge college D linemen, who generally find themselves on the field much more than they are in the pros.

    “He was a bit inconsistent,” Smith says, “and, unfortunately for the young man it caused him to slip in the draft. I’m sure he’s aware of it and I’m sure the rest of the league is aware of it. But you shoot high and cover your bases.

    “The most important thing I learned from Jimmy Johnson — and I’ve learned a lot from Jimmy Johnson — is to get the player you want. We got the player we wanted.”

    Smith also wanted an inside linebacker, so he moved up to get Washington’s Donald Butler in the third round. He wanted a safety who can run, so he drafted Kansas’ Darrell Stuckey in the fourth. He wanted a No. 3 quarterback, so he took Tennessee’s Jonathan Crompton with his second fifth-round pick. He wanted a tight end, so he used his seventh-round choice on Miami’s Dedrick Epps.

    It hardly was an enormous draft in numbers. But Smith isn’t like New England’s Bill Belichick (12 picks), who stockpiles players and then just tosses the ones he doesn’t like.

    “With our roster what it is, I don’t know what I’d do with that many players,” Smith says.

    The Chargers are not without need, but their needs are fewer than the great majority of NFL teams. Now it’s a matter of getting out of the second floor and onto the roof.

    “One day,” Smith says, “I hope we can all say: “We got it right. Son of a gun. ”

    Guess that’s one dream worth living.


    AJ is funny!
  2. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

    Aug 14, 2008
    AJ Builds through the draft and I think he's very happy with his latest piece of work.
  3. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Aug 14, 2006
    I am too. Mathews and Butler alone project as future starters for years to come. Stuckey and Thomas have the ability to be at least upgrades at needed positions. Crompton is a perfect developmental project because according to his scouting report he already has sound mechanics and reads the field well.

    Other than Epps, I don't believe any of these picks were just bodies to fill a depth chart. We can get something from all of them.

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