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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, May 1, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>
    <div class="intro-copy">The Chargers attacked weaknesses by snagging a cornerback, left tackle and quarterback in the first day of the NFL draft.</div>
    <p class="intro-copy">And among the other news was a player who wasn't leaving San Diego. Despite offering productive inside linebacker Donnie Edwards to other teams, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn't receive a compelling enough offer to swap the Chargers' leading tackle over the past four season.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But while Edwards stays, eight other new players are just arriving in San Diego. Smith has said it takes three seasons to grade a draft, but the anxious Chargers are hopeful to see dividends from their picks much sooner than that.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"> DRAFT REVIEW: How appropriate. In a week in which Las Vegas told the Chargers it would be interested in helping them relocate to Sin City, Smith rolled the dice.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Smith gambled on various fronts during the NFL draft, his fourth since taking over as the Chargers' general manager.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie was Smith's first pick, coming at 19th overall. There's no doubting Cromartie's athletic ability, but he started but one game for the Seminoles.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">That's right, Cromartie converted a single start into a top 20 pick.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"We really think he has everything we are looking for," Smith said. "He didn't have a large body of work and had an injury; I would prefer to have someone who played for three straight years. But we all got together and went with our years of experience and instincts. He is a very talented player."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Talented, but where's the proof? Cromartie, who also returns kicks, last played in the finale of the 2004 season. He tore an ACL in the summer workouts leading to last season and didn't play a down.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But Smith and other Chargers officials swear grabbing Cromartie so high isn't a reach. Although this pick goes against what Smith has preached leading to his previous three Chargers drafts: don't fall in love with a player's workout, look at what he did on the field.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Cromartie, well, hasn't done much.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Smith blew on the dice again when drafting Auburn left tackle Markus McNeill. By all accounts, McNeill will fill a need - especially with concerns over starter Roman Oben's foot ailment.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But McNeill comes with his own red flags. He has stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal cord. Again, the Chargers are confident he will be fine.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The third round brought Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Somewhat of a surprise with the Chargers so eager to break the bottle of champagne against the HMS Philip Rivers to christen him taking over for starter Drew Brees.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Whitehurst has the size and smarts that Smith longs for, but he was hardly anything exceptional at Clemson. In his final two seasons at Clemson, he threw 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers key pick on Day Two was Iowa State inside linebacker Tim Dobbins. It's a selection with an eye to the future as its possible none of the team's top four inside linebackers will be with the club next year.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Where that club might play in the future is also unknown. If it's Las Vegas, the city will have a man it can appreciate in Smith.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">A closer look at the Chargers' picks:</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 1/19 - Antonio Cromartie, CB, 6-2, 208, Florida State.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Has a player ever started but one college game and become a top 20 draft pick? Good question, just like there are countless questions about Cromartie - he's talented and athletic, but doesn't have much of a resume.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 2/50 - Marcus McNeill, LT, 6-7, 336, Auburn</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers are desperate to add bulk and depth at left tackle and they did that with McNeill. The massive All-American hasn't allowed a sack in 43 straight games. He could see action quickly if starter Roman Oben (foot) is ailing.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 3/81 - Charlie Whitehurst, QB, 6-4, 223, Clemson</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">A bit of a surprise here, but the Chargers had but two quarterbacks - Philip Rivers and A. J. Feeley - on the roster. Whitehurst is a classic drop-back quarterback, but many recall his junior season when he threw seven touchdowns and 17 interceptions.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 5/151 - Tim Dobbins, ILB, 6-1, 246, Iowa State</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">One has to scratch below the surface to justify this pick. Both starters, Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey are playing their final years for the Chargers and backups Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper have one-year deals. Dobbins is a savvy and classic run-stopping inside linebacker.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 6/187 - Jeromey Clary, T, 6-6, 304, Kansas State</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers continue to build depth at the line's most important spot. Clay, though, isn't expected to add much early on as he needs to get bigger and stronger to wrestle with the NFL's defensive ends.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 6/188 - Kurt Smith, K, 6-0, 184, Virginia</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">A bit of a mystery pick here with the Chargers pleased with the kicking of third-year pro Nate Kaeding. But Smith could be brought aboard exclusively as a kickoff specialist - an area where Kaeding has struggled.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 7/225 - Chase Page, DT, North Carolina</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">With Jamal Williams, Jacques Cesaire, Ryon Bingham ahead of Page, don't look for much here. But he could challenge Bingham for his roster spot.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Round 7/227 - C Jimmy Martin, Virginia Tech</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">This pick supplies depth, although the Chargers are hoping he pushes starter Nick Hardwick. But look for a lengthy learning curve as Martin played left tackle at Va. Tech. He could also get a look at guard.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-The Chargers peddled their fourth-round pick at No. 113th overall to the Rams for TE Brandon Manumaleuna. He started 14 games last year, being used mostly as a blocker. The Chargers let TE Justin Peelle flee in the off-season.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-The Chargers are free to speak to other cities on Jan. 1 about relocating; Las Vegas and San Antonio have already expressed an interest in talking to the Chargers. Two San Diego County cities - Oceanside and Chula Vista - might also be involved. The financially strapped city of San Diego has told the club it is unable to join with the Chargers in the club's quest to replace Qualcomm Stadium.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Dolphins coach Nick Saban isn't among those doubting the Chargers taking a first-round flier on Antonio Cromartie. "Had Cromartie had a little better body of work in terms of playing more, he may have been a guy who may have risen from where he was, as well because coming off an ACL and not having played that much prior to that or played since probably created a question mark in some people's minds, certainly not in ours. We think he's an outstanding player and we'd have been happy to have him on our team."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who isn't chummy with Smith, said his voice was heard in regard to the drafting of Antonio Cromartie. "Absolutely," Schottenheimer said. "I'm excited about it. I've always said at the outset I like big, physical corners."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and new quarterback Charlie Whitehurst face each other twice; Rivers played for North Carolina State and Whitehurst for Clemson. Rivers went 2-0. "I thought I was done seeing him," Whitehurst said. Whitehurst's dad, David, played quarterback for the Packers from 1976-83.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "Any pick you make in the draft is a gamble." - Coach Marty Schottenheimer regarding the Chargers' risk in burning a first-round pick on CB Antonio Cromartie.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">TRANSITION PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Jamar Fletcher.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): WR Drew Haddad.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: LB Howard Hodges; RB Calvin Murray.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: LB Stephen Cooper; OG Kris Dielman; S Clinton Hart; WR Kassim Osgood; DE Jacques Cesaire; LB Carlos Polk; FB Andrew Pinnock; LB Matt Wilhelm.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS ACQUIRED: TE Brandon Manumaleuna; S Marlon McCree; TE Aaron Shea; CB Raymond Walls; WR Rashaun Woods.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS LOST: QB Drew Brees; WR Reche Caldwell; CB Sammy Davis; OG Bob Hallen; LB Ben Leber; TE Justin Peelle; DE DeQuincy Scott; OL Courtney VanBuren; S Jerry Wilson.</p>
     

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