NFL Draft projections are like, well, a certain body part. Everybody has them, and all of them stink.
I've posted my to date 2010 Mock Draft, but while doing so, I realized just how little I know about a few teams and what they need most of all for next year and beyond. One team I was not confused about, however, is the San Diego Chargers.
If I know any set of team needs, this is it. I hope this can go out to those who know little about the Chargers, to help with your future mocks (If all my Charger-fan brethren could agree on this analysis, that would be nice).
If not, well then I'm no different than anyone else.
San Diego Chargers' Needs:
With Ladainian Tomlinson gone, and Darren Sproles likely to follow via trade, RB is easily the top need in San Diego. Expect two to be picked in the draft, but do not expect a trade up for C.J. Spiller, and even drafting one in the first round is far from guaranteed. A.J. Smith is slightly too confident in his ability to find players late in the draft (Michael Turner in the fifth, Sproles in the fourth), so he may pass on a top-five back to shore up other positions.
Jahvid Best does not project well, while Ryan Matthews and Jonathon Dwyer are both suitable first round picks. West coast native Toby Gerhart can be had in the second round, and would compliment Darren Sproles nicely if he were to return. Watch for the former Stanford Cardinal to become a Charger
In the later rounds, LeGarrette Blount, Javarris James, and Anthony Dixon are also good fits if they keep Sproles.
If Sproles is no longer with San Diego, Joe McKnight and Dexter McCluster fit in for the Chargers in the second or third rounds.
The Jamal Williams era may be over, as he is due $6 million this upcoming season, and regardless of whether he plays this year, he is definitely gone next. Ryon Bingham, Ogembi Nwagbou, and Ian Scott are all backups, despite the promise Nwagbou showed before getting injured last year. Expect a NT in the first first rounds, or none at all.
Terrence Cody is the one to watch in the first, or early second via trade up, while North Carolina's Cam Jones may fall to them in the second round.
At first glance, a team with an awesome passing game last season, that has all of its key WRs and TEs returning for minimal pay raises, would not need a WR. However, this could turn into a top priority very quickly and very plausibly.
While restricted free agent Malcolm Floyd is almost guaranteed to return (likely with a multi-year deal), as will TE Antonio Gates and SB Legedu Naanee, restricted free agent and Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson is on thin ice in San Diego.
While a top notch talent, Jackson has character issues. Recently pleading guilty to his second DUI, Jackson very well may be shown the door alongside other headcases, Antonio Cromartie and Shawne Merriman.
Although this draft lacks the tall, possession receivers with sneaky speed the Chargers most covet, the best option in the late first round has to be Demaryius Thomas. Later rounds can bare fruit in the form of Brandon LaFell, Riley Cooper, Carlton Mitchell, and little known Patrick Simonds for Malcolm Floyd version 2.0.
Cromartie is publicly on A.J. Smith's scatlist: he will not be a Charger in 2010. While the Chargers are more than happy to play Antoine Cason as the No. 2 CB, their depth falls off the planet right after that. They would need a NB, so expect a DB somewhere in the mid-round range.
Jerome Murphy, Brandon Ghee and Trevard Lindley are all good fits.
With problems at other positions, the Chargers may have to settle with Jerome Clary starting at RT. He is a decent lineman, but hardly the top level tackle that the team needs to get its running game back on track. Expect a late round flier on a small school tackle.
Heard it Through the Grapevine
Here is a section I hope you all will enjoy, explaining why some rumors floating around just don't make sense. Whether they be positions or players, they are officially discredited here.
I have seen many experts place this as a first or second round need for the Chargers. This just makes no sense. Of course they wouldn't be talking about replacing Pro Bowler Kris Dielman, so they must be talking about no-longer-rookie Louis Vasquez. Well, that just doesn't make sense, as Vasquez may have been the top rookie lineman during the 2009 season and shows great promise for the future of this line.
For the first time in a very long time, I am not lamenting the Chargers' safeties. Eric Weddle is a budding star, while 2009 sixth round pick Kevin Ellison played well beyond his draft stock and can develop into a fantastic pickup for A.J. Smith. Ellison and Weddle both could improve their man-to-man coverage of TEs, but the way they play zone, and the way Weddle plays the run, I see no reason to pick a safety all draft.
This Chargers draft can be a very interesting one, and projecting the players now is a dangerous call. As one of the top beneficiaries from a cap-free season, the Chargers can bring in multiple first, second, and third round picks from trading the likes of Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles and Shawne Merriman, as well as Antonio Cromartie.
This will be an interesting offseason, but the list of needs likley will not change all too much.