Knowshon Moreno: No LaDainian Tomlinson

Eric GomezAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2009

The NFL Draft is 65 days away.

While AJ Smith and 31 other general managers travel long distances to weigh the pros and cons of prospective draftees, measuring size, speed, strength, and a bevy of intangibles, they must also weigh in factors like sign-ability and how the possible addition of certain players will affect the role of guys already on the roster.

What seemed unthinkable this time last year is today a very real possibility.

LaDainian Tomlinson—with all intents and purposes—could start the 2009 NFL Season with a team other than the San Diego Chargers.

Though it's clear to anyone with access to mass media and a passing interest in sports that LT wishes to remain a Charger, there is still speculation as to whether the team wants to keep him.

Should LT's contract renegotiation go awry, several names have been thrown around to ensure that the Chargers will have a potent running attack in the near future.

Knowing Smith's preference to have the free-agent market be a secondary factor in his building of a roster, the draft is then is the main hub of attention.

Analysts have singled out Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Beanie Wells as the players that the Chargers could potentially target. With this in mind, the following question arises:

Should the Chargers draft Moreno, Wells, or another RB with a high draft pick, does that mean LT will be released?

Following the PR nightmare that was Smith's statements, behavior and overall behavior towards Tomlinson during the offseason, such a move would be hard-pressed to sell to fans and media alike.

While several explanations can certainly be produced following a selection of Moreno or Wells, the most likely odd man out would be Tomlinson.

San Diego's draft needs go far beyond obtaining a running back. An offensive lineman to cover the right side is a priority. An agile defensive tackle will be needed to replace Igor Olshansky and potentially Jamal Williams in the near-future.

Despite having two of the best outside linebackers in the NFL in Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman, the inside line backing corps is weak beyond last year's starters Tim Dobbins and Stephen Cooper.

Strong safety Clinton Hart has been targeted for his inability to commit to being a coverage back or an enforcer—putting added pressure on free safety Eric Weddle to make plays.

In light of this, utilizing a high draft pick to select a running back would seem almost irresponsible, especially considering that Darren Sproles was assigned the team's non-exclusive franchise tag recently.

Would the Chargers risk alienating their fan base and their greatest opportunity for filling holes in their lineup, just to have Smith fulfill his grudge match?

As sensational as that might sound to you, I'd probably have an easier time convincing Rodney Harrison, Donnie Edwards, and Drew Brees that it is very possible.