The safe choice is also the most likely choice. Dan Williams would be the prized catch, but it would take a phenomenal string of events to land him in San Diego’s possession, which I do not see happening.
After Williams there are three trains of thought: Terrence Cody, Matthews, or someone outside the NT/RB ranks.
The third option is just as likely as either, but there is no front-runner from among the half-dozen potential positions, so picking from there becomes a simple guessing game based around predicting an unpredictable GM.
Split between Cody and Matthews, I think Matthews gets the edge. The team appears happy with how the rotation at nose worked out last year. That does not preclude them from looking for a pick, but it does make it easier to avoid reaching.
Matthews fulfills several needs for the San Diego Chargers to make him a solid option.
First, San Diego needs a lead running back. Darren Sproles is a solid talent, but he is a change of pace and not a tandem back. Giving him double digit carries in a split-load backfield will not improve his effectiveness.
Matthews has the build to handle a heavier workload. He won’t see a Martyball number of carries, but a 240-260 carry year should be in line with what the Chargers offense wants to see, and is more than the team should feel comfortable entrusting to next highest ranked back Jahvid Best.
Matthews has the size and strength to help push the team through in short yardage and goal-line situations as well as to help handle the extra contact afforded by a more pass-centric array of blockers (be they OL, TE, or FB).
The threat of a back that can run for power up the middle also becomes a great asset in the passing game. Defenses will be forced to choose their poison and respect the run, something a slower developing toss to a shifty scatback might not be able to do.
The final reason steps off the field. San Diego let an icon depart, and while great value is there to be had across the deep second-tier of running backs, it would be a good move for the team to net a player like Matthews for the fans to rally around. For a team that doesn’t make a lot of splashy moves, this might just be the time to make one.