The San Diego Chargers enter the draft with running back as a glaring need. They are virtually assured to draft a running back within the first two or three rounds in an attempt to find a new lead-back to replace LaDainian Tomlinson.
In addition, it would not be altogether surprising if San Diego were to spend one of its later picks (four through seven) on an additional running back who can compete for snaps, provide some insurance, and generally round out the team.
Finding a good tandem can go any number of ways. For the sake of argument this look at good pairings will focus almost solely upon the two draftees, looking at one mid-round and one late-round possibility.
1.Ryan Matthews: (6’0", 217 lbs)
A blend of solid straight-ahead speed and good power, Matthews is a draft climber who has a good lead-back build. Because of his power-leaning, balanced size, there is no single obvious complimentary style to have to pair with him.
LeGarrette Blount: Projected rounds—Late Fourth, possibly Fifth
Would serve to help preserve Matthews by giving the team a 238-pound bulldozer to handle the wear and tear of short-yardage and goal-line carries. He could also serve as a great value as a third-round talent whose turmoil in his final year cost him dearly in draft position.
(Note: two to three backs, including Blount would fit into several scenarios but are omitted from other slides to limit repetition.)
Deji Karim: Projected rounds—Late Fifth to Early Sixth
While still within that mid-sized range at 210 pounds, he’d be the team’s smaller, faster option after peeling off a 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash.
2.Jahvid Best: (5’10", 199 lbs)
A versatile back whose forte is speed, Best would be a great, elusive option to add to the team. However, his size necessitates more of a combination backfield workload, as well as someone to handle tough inside carries.
Montario Hardesty: Projected round—Fourth
With a decent 40-yard dash time and good size (6’0", 225), Hardesty could handle short yardage and goal-line carries while also giving the team a solid second option that could handle starting should Best go down with injury.
Charles Scott: Projected round—Six
A 232-pound load, a season-ending broken collarbone dropped his draft value about two rounds. In a full junior campaign, he showed a nose for the endzone with 18 touchdowns, filling out that goal-line back role.
3.Jonathan Dwyer: (5’11", 229 lbs)
Dwyer started the offseason as a leading candidate for the team to grab with its first-round choice. Following the offseason workout circuit his star has fallen and may just drop to the third round. Because of his falling status, some insurance in the team’s second back should be prevalent.
James Starks: Projected round—Five
He is within that mid-size range at 6’2", 214 lbs, which makes him a good build to handle a varied workload should Dwyer falter. He has also shown great hands, putting up big reception numbers at Buffalo, which makes him a good fit within San Diego’s aerial offense.
Joique Bell: Projected round—Five or Six
Bell was a do-it-all back whose on-field performances outweigh his measurables. His versatility could make him useful in a variety of facets should Dwyer secure the starting role soundly, but he will be able to fill out a heavy workload if the team needs a fallback option. With the same numbers at a bigger school, he would probably be a fourth-round pick.
4.Toby Gerhart: (6’0", 231 lbs)
Early in the offseason, Gerhart would have been listed among the mid-round complimentary players rather than a first-back possibility. A strong Combine raised his stock considerably, and he may just get sooner consideration than expected. Gerhart is very much a power back who makes the secondary choice quite obvious.
Joe McKnight: Projected round—Three or Four
It's something of a stretch since he is the highest of the "complimentary" players listed; however, it makes sense, as Gerhart is likely the lowest-projected lead back on the list. McKnight gives the team a speed/explosive back who has better size than a pure scatback, which could make the two much more of a tandem than lead/backup pairing.
Jake Sharp: Projected round—Seven
Something of a stretch as the smaller/quicker backs aren’t as easily found as balanced/power backs in the later ranks. At 5’9", 194 lbs, with a 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash in his Pro Day, he could give the team a speedster bargain just a few choices away from Mr. Irrelevant.
These are some running back prospects that don’t fit within the constraints of a slide show but could be valuable under-the-radar pick-ups.
Ben Tate: Projected round—Three or Four
He falls into the Joe McKnight range of being a bit high of a choice for a second back, but low for the team’s first choice. If San Diego takes the less expected route of two mid-round choices at running back instead of a first- or second-rounder, then Tate would comprise a great piece of that combination. He has great speed for his size, and looked great in his position drills.
Anthony Dixon: Projected round—Three or Four
Another power runner (along with basically the entire second tier of backs), Dixon is a late second-round talent who could potentially be had in the fourth, thanks to the depth of second-tier backs. He has decent hands and a similar frame to Toby Gerhart, but could be had a full round later thanks to going .12 seconds slower in the 40-yard dash.