NFL Draft Focus: San Diego Chargers

DraftAmerica talks with Kevin Acee, Chargers beat writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, about the Bolts’ plans for the 2011 draft. San Diego went 9-7 and will pick 18th overall.

Chargers 2010 Team Rankings


Total Yards:            1st (395.6)

Rushing Yards:        15th (113.1)

Passing Yards:        2nd (282.4)

Points Scored:         2nd (27.6)

Time of Possession: 1st

Sacks allowed:         T-17th (38)


Total Yards:            1st (271.6)

Rushing Yards:        4th (93.8)

Passing Yards:        1st (177.8)

Points Allowed:        10th (20.1)

Interceptions:            T-14th (16)

Sacks:                     T-2nd (47)


Passing Yards:         Philip Rivers (4,710)

Rushing Yards:         Mike Tolbert (735)

Receiving Yards:       Antonio Gates (782)

Sacks:                        Shaun Phillips (11)

Interceptions:            Antoine Cason (4)

Tackles:                    Eric Weddle (96)


2010 Ryan Matthews, RB (2010 stats: 158
car., 678 yds., 7 TD)

2009 Larry English, DE (2010 stats: 2
starts, 17 tackles, 3 sacks)

2008 Antoine Cason, CB (2010 stats:
Team-leading 4 interceptions)

2007 Craig “Buster” Davis, WR (2010
stats: 21 rec., 259 yds., 1 TD)

2006 Antonio Cromartie, CB (No longer
with team)

DA: Is there a consensus of one position or
area of need that the Chargers need to address? And is it far-fetched to think they may address special teams in the early rounds?

KA: They need a playmaker, whatever that
consensus is. It’s defensive end or safety, be that in draft or free
agency. They’re not usually players in free agency. They may step out
a little bit more this year, but don’t look for it to be huge. The
draft, that’s how you build the team according to the general
manager. They were the number one defense but that was something of a
paper tiger, a lot of short fields. I’m not saying they weren’t good,
but statistically it didn’t tell the whole story. They need game
changing sacks and turnovers, which they didn’t have enough of. And
so one name everyone likes and that I think fits and could be
available in the first round is Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue. I believe
he’s a true D-end in a 3-4. They have five picks in the first three rounds –
a first, two seconds, and two thirds. A guy that they missed last
year was their third-round pick Donald Butler out of Washington. He
was a good linebacker having a great camp. Here’s a guy that played
special teams all four years at Washington and would have been big for
them, but he tore his Achilles during training camp. In the second,
third, and fourth rounds, whether it’s a linebacker or a safety, if
he’s a real special player, he’s going to pay his dues on special
teams. Last year the Chargers brought it so many veterans to shore up
their special teams throughout the season and spent so much money,
they don’t plan to do that this year. They got a new special teams
coach to coach young guys.

DA:How does Vincent Jackson’s future
impact whether they address the wide receiver position?

KA: There should be a franchise tag of some
sort in a new CBA, so they’re going to keep Vincent Jackson for one
more year and that’s good because this guy is an amazing player.
Malcolm Floyd doesn’t have the durability and he’s going to be an
unrestricted free agent too, as is Legedu Naanee. The problem with
drafting a wide receiver, you look at Jackson his first couple years, people
would tell me he’s a bust, but I knew he wasn’t. That’s a tough
position to make the move in from college to the NFL. But no matter
what happens with Vincent in 2011, I look for them to draft a
receiver to make a project to groom to take over for him.

DA:Is there any discontent over the last five
first-round picks?

KA: I hate post-draft grades. In my
opinion, three years you’ve got to give a kid. The Chargers are the fourth-winningest team in the NFL over the last six years. They should
have done better in the draft over the last several years, but they
brought in a lot of these guys with the intention of them being
projects. They didn’t expect Larry English to take over. Even though
he was hurt this last year and Shawne Merriman was around, they
thought [Merriman] was going to be around until 2011. 2011 is the first time
they expect English to be an impact player. Antoine Cason, everybody
thought he was a bust because he couldn’t play the nickel. But the
nickel and the corner are two different positions. And Cason had a
really good season as a corner, so that’s a good pick. And they got a
second-rounder for Cromartie, so is that a bad pick? Not really. And
make this distinction [about Buster Davis]: A bust is a player who
can’t play. Now the bottom line is the poor kid is going to be seen as a
bust. The kid is very talented but he can’t stay on the field, so
unfortunately it was a wasted pick. I’m pretty sure they are going to
release him before 2011 and let him go get a fresh start somewhere
else. And then there’s Matthews. Personally I would have gone defense
last year, but this kid is going to be a very good player. He was
bothered by a high-ankle sprain he suffered in the second game. He’s
going to be a fine player who is going to help this team immensely.
What I’ve slammed [general manager] A.J. Smith for recently is that
he only has 15 of his last 26 picks still on the team, and that
includes Davis. Now, most of those picks that didn’t stick around
were fourth-round or later. Generally good teams don’t keep many of
their fourth-rounders or later. But you look at his ’04 draft, which
was one of his best drafts, and the ’05 draft which at least looked
great at first… this is absolutely going to be a gigantic draft for

DA: Is Smith’s philosophy more of a draft
for need, or best player available?

KA: It’s need. [Take for example 2007], going into ’07 they had no
wide receivers, and they went and traded for Chris Chambers [mid-season]. Without
him I don’t think they make the playoffs [that year]. I think they
definitely have to draft for need this year as they did last year.

Be the first to comment on "NFL Draft Focus: San Diego Chargers"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.