With the NFL Draft a little over a week away, analysts are scrambling to release their best attempt at a mock draft. The majority of them out there have the San Diego Chargers taking Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews with their first round pick. While it seems like the most logical pick because it is the Chargers' most glaring need, is he really the best fit for this team and their philosophy?
The Chargers capped off last season with a 13-3 record and one of the hottest teams at the end of the season by finishing with an 11-game winning streak.
All of this while having one of the worst running attacks in the league.
So why should they fix something that isn't broken, right? Sure, a little depth is needed at the position with LT's departure, but with the way the head coach Norv Turner runs this offense, the position is not of dire need.
The more apparent need this year is in the defensive front seven. They lost Igor Olshansky to free agency last year and never replaced him. They lost Jamal Williams for the year the first game of the season and allowed over 100 yards in rushing in all but three games last year. That is something that you can't allow teams to do at will.
Now with the release of Jamal, the team intends to go younger on the defensive front. This is why the defensive line should be more of a focus this year than running back. The defense tackle class is deep and probably the best draft for this position in years and the Chargers can easily come out of this year’s draft with two of the nation's top defensive tackles that fill two big needs.
Brian Price (6'1" 301 lbs) has the size and strength to convert to a great defensive end for the Chargers 3-4 zone scheme. He posses great hand techniques, uses them well with his size and low center of gravity to contain blockers and and not to mention the great burst he has to get off his blocker and wreak havoc in the back field.
He would be an immediate upgrade over Jacques Cesaire and it gives the Chargers great value late in the first round as well as bringing a new spark to this defense.
With this pick it also opens up the door for different options for the rest of the draft. The Chargers would have the 40th pick and almost a whole 24 hours to decide where to go with this pick.
Will they go offense and draft a running back (Jahvid Best)?
Or will they draft a complement to their newly-acquired defensive end?
The latter seems like the better value for AJ Smith doesn't it? Draft another tackle that can play the nose and solidify the defensive line for the next few years.
If AJ drafts the way he usually does, which is very unpredictable, then I predict he will go with a reach in the second round and draft Cam Thomas. He has great size (6'4" 330 lbs) to play at the nose and is very capable at using his leverage to maintain double teams and push blockers back into the pocket.
With Thomas and Price coupled up with Castillo up front stuffing the run, it would create more opportunities for the linebackers and defensive backs to make plays against opposing offenses.
And it would create one of the deepest and most experienced rotations in the league with basically all the starters from last year becoming depth if Price and Thomas can step in and start right away.
The Chargers need a smart, dictating defense to compliment their aerial attack on offense. They don't play the time of possession game, so they don't need to have an attacking defense. Playing smart football and not letting the other team run the ball at will helps win games and eventually push this team over the hump.
The secondary did a great job last year and with the changes and additions, it has potential to be better as well as create more takeaways.
The front seven is where the issues were last year (mainly the front three). With the additions of two top prospects to the defensive line, the Chargers will be able to contend with any team by dictating what they can do on offense and Philip Rivers carving up their defense.
No Charger fan wants to suffer another heart breaker in the post season after another great season.
By selecting Price with the 28th pick, the Chargers are addressing their need to stuff the run which will hopefully allow them to cash in a championship at the end of the year.
The Price is Right.