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Inside Slant - 04/28/08

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AqZMxb6BZwdJ73SPJebjlRWU2bYF?slug=teamreports-2008-nfl-sdg&amp;prov=sportsxchange&amp;type=team_report" target="_blank">Yahoo Sports</a>

    <img class="alignright" style="float: right;" src="http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080428/images/sp-cason.jpg" alt="SCOTT LINNETT / Union-Tribune" width="167" height="220" />DRAFT REVIEW-The Chargers entered the draft in an enviable position: They were looking for depth, not starters, to add to a squad which reached last season's AFC Championship Game.

    So they attacked those depth issues with their first pick, choosing to go cornerback instead of offensive tackle in selecting Arizona's Antoine Cason at No. 27 overall.

    The Chargers just as easily could have reached for a tackle, but that pool of talent was drained quickly with six being selected before the team got its only pick of the day. So with that position picked over, the Chargers went defensive and got Cason.

    General manager A.J. Smith, conducting his fifth draft for the Chargers, wasn't shocked by the run on tackles and felt comfortable with Cason.

    "No. not at all because it was the strength of the draft and we knew that," he said. "This might have been the easiest and most comfortable (draft) because of the fact that we were going to be in the tackle business or the cornerback business.

    "Right out of the gate we were going to be happy with a tackle or a corner. We just didn't know name or how we were going to do it. That makes you very, very comfortable."

    In Cason, the team has a potential replacement for Drayton Florence. He left as a free agent to Jacksonville and the team isn't sold on Cletis Gordon being able to assume Florence's job.

    Gordon will get the first crack at it, but the Chargers expect Cason to compete for the position as well.

    In Jacob Hester, the Chargers drafted a running back to serve as LaDainian Tomlinson's caddy and possibly someone to groom to eventually take the future Hall of Famer's place.

    Hester, acquired through a trade with the Patriots, is versatile as he rushed for 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 106 yards and a score last season for LSU.

    Later the Chargers added to the running backs depth with Marcus Thomas at of the University of Texas-El Paso.

    "You can say this about a lot of players, but Jacob Hester is a football player," said Buddy Nix, the assistant GM. "He won't wow you with the workout numbers and all, but he gained over 1,000 yards in the SEC. He's been extremely productive and we're excited to have him."

    It was somewhat surprising the Chargers didn't tackle their lack of bodies at tackle, choosing to wait until their final pick at No. 234 to snag Corey Clark, a massive man out of Texas A&amp;M.

    The Chargers are somewhat rolling the dice that Jeromey Clary, despite having but six NFL starts, will be able to man the spot at last through next season.

    Before drafting Clark, they got speed-burner DeJuan Tribble, a cornerback from Boston College.

    Tribble was still available, the Chargers hope, was because he missed the final three games of the season because of a knee injury.

    The Chargers won't be looking for Tribble to work his way into the pass-defense packages, not with Cason being selected first and Paul Oliver taken last year in the supplemental draft.

    But his speed is intriguing and that could mean him seeing time on special teams before seeing the field on defense.

    Overall, it appears the Chargers' addressed their shortcomings at three spots that weren't as deep as Smith prefers. What the Chargers have working for them is that none of the picks are being counted on as being significant contributors early in their careers, unless injuries force the team to fast-forward their development.

    Best Pick: Antoine Cason appears to be just the type of corner the Chargers seek: good ball-hawking skills and the ability to stick his nose up in there for run support. If Cason can win the nickel role, the Chargers' top three cornerbacks would be first-round picks: Quentin Jammer, Antonio Cromartie and Cason. It appears Cason has his head screwed on straight.

    Could Surprise: Everyone will look at Jacob Hester, the third-round pick, as LaDainian Tomlinson's main backup. But at some point Marcus Thomas, a fifth-round selection, could prove to be more of a pure running back with Hester taking on more of the fullback duties. That 5.0-yard average Thomas had last year can't be ignored.

    A closer look at the Chargers' picks:

    Round 1/27-Antoine Cason, CB, 6-0, 190, Arizona

    With a gapping hole at the nickel spot with the defection of Drayton Florence, the Chargers snag someone built in the same mold-a good cover guy who doesn't shy away from contributing in the run defense.

    Round 3/69-Jacob Hester, RB, 5-11, 230, LSU

    When the team looked behind LaDainian Tomlinson, it didn't see much. That changes now with Hester. Darren Sproles, Tomlinson's backup before the deal to draft Hester, is more of a specialty back and not capable of playing every down because of his size. With Hester, he's built to run inside as well as find the edges. But he didn't come cheap as the Chargers surrendered a fifth-round pick this year and a second-rounder next year. Hester can also play fullback; the Chargers didn't bring back Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal this season.

    Round 5/166-Marcus Thomas, RB, 6-1, 215, Texas-El Paso

    In tipping their hand at how fluid the running back situation is-behind Tomlinson-the Chargers add to their stable of backs with Thomas. He rushed for 1,166 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, averaging more than 5 yards per carry.

    Round 6/192-DeJuan Tribble, CB, 5-9, 190 Boston College

    The team usually likes its corners bigger, but the Chargers couldn't pass on this speed-burner-despite his slight frame. Tribble can scoot, returning three interceptions last year for touchdowns. He could get a look as a returner as well.

    Round 7/234-Corey Clark, OT, 6-6, 330, Texas A&amp;M

    With the run on premier tacklers in the first round, the Chargers decided to wait to address this need until their final pick. If nothing else. Clark has NFL-size and was a three-year starter for the Aggies. Clark was an honorable mention All-Big 12 last year and will probably make at least the practice squad with the team's lack of personnel at tackle.

    Notes, Quotes

    • The Chargers considered trading out of the first round and had some preliminary discussions with teams regarding a move. But the morning of the draft, GM A.J. Smith decided to stay put. "I decided I wasn't going to get cute and bail out of the first round and hope something popped up in the second and third round."

    • Instead Smith waited until day two of the draft to pull the trigger on a deal. Eager to find a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson after Michael Turner left as a free agent to Atlanta, Smith gave the Patriots his second-round pick of 2009 and their fifth-round selection this year to move into the third round at No. 69 and select RB Jacob Hester of LSU.

    • It was tough for Smith, who loves holding a bushel of draft picks to use or deal, to potential sit tight through most of the first three rounds. The Chargers had the 27th pick and weren't suppose to hear their name called again until No. 160-until he swung the deal with the Patriots to draft Hester. The Chargers were low on picks because their second-round selection went to the Dolphins last year for WR Chris Chambers and the No. 3 to the Bears last spring in the trade to move up and draft S Eric Weddle. The No. 4 was burned in the supplemental draft last year for CB Paul Oliver. So with no picks in those rounds, Smith put up those three players names on the Chargers' draft board.

    • Cason made a name for himself on off the field at Arizona. His 15 interceptions at Arizona is the fourth-best total all-time at the school and he hasn't raised about $4,000 through his Cason Cares charity work. "This guy is a great character kid," assistant Buddy Nix said. "When we visited the school the first thing they told us was, "He has been the face of the program since we got him,' He's that kind of leader and that kind of character."

    • The Chargers hope a mended DeJuan Tribble, the team's sixth-round pick, can rebound and be productive. He intercepted 15 passes at Boston College and was among the top cornerbacks in college before 2007 season. But a sprained MCL knee injury, kept him out of the final three games late in the season. "That may have hurt him in the draft, but he worked his way back and we saw him in the Senior Bowl," said Buddy Nix, the team's assistant GM. "He's a little short, but he's got a stocky build. He's a physical guy and he'll hit you."

    • The team claimed QB Casey Bramlet off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. Bramlet, 27, will give the team another arm in training camp and him coming aboard isn't a sign that the team has lost confidence or is eager to deal No. 3 QB Charlie Whitehurst. Bramlet, 6-4, 230, entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2004 NFL Draft and has never played in a regular-season game.

    Quote To Note: "We're pretty excited. Now he has to earn his stripes"-GM A.J. Smith on landing CB Antoine Cason.

    Strategy And Personnel

    Franchise Player: None.



    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

    • RB Tyronne Gross (not tendered as ERFA).




    • LB Derek Smith: FA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.


    • OT Jeromey Clary: ERFA; terms unknown.

    • WR Malcom Floyd: ERFA; terms unknown.

    • CB Cletis Gordon: ERFA; terms unknown.

    • CB Steve Gregory: ERFA; terms unknown.

    • LB Marques Harris: RFA; tendered at $1.47M; terms unknown.

    • DT Brandon McKinney: ERFA; terms unknown.

    • G Scott Mruczkowski: Potential RFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

    • QB Billy Volek: UFA; $9M/3 yrs, $3M SB.


    • CB Drayton Florence: UFA Jaguars; $36M/6 yrs, $12M SB.

    • S Marlon McCree (released).

    • FB Lorenzo Neal (released).

    • OT Shane Olivea (released).

    • K Dave Rayner: Not tendered as RFA/Dolphins; terms unknown.

    • RB Michael Turner: UFA Falcons; $34.5M/6 yrs, $15M guaranteed.

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