With departures such as Ladainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, and Jamal Williams; the Chargers had to draft well in 2010 in order to maintain their status as the best team in the AFC West, and a Super Bowl contender. Here's a look each individual pick, with analysis and a grade for each player selected.
Round 1- Ryan Mathews: The Chargers traded up 16 spots (from 28 to 12) to get Mathews, even though he wasn't projected to get picked until the Chargers original selection spot. While the Chargers did need to get a RB in this draft, the Chargers should have grabbed a player that they could not have selected with the 28th overall pick, like Tennessee DT Dan Williams. The Chargers’ need for a DT in their 3-4 scheme is of greater importance then their need at RB on an offense that was amongst the best in the league without a strong running attack. The Chargers do not need to find the next LaDainian Tomlinson, they just need to find someone they can rely on to carry the ball 20 times a game, and get positive yardage. Adding more confusion to the Chargers decision to move up, is the fact that this year's RB class had 5 or 6 solid prospects. The Chargers could have easily waited until the 28th or 40th pick to get a serviceable running back prospect such as Auburn’s Ben Tate, Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, or Tennesee’s Montario Hardesty.
PICK GRADE: C
Round 3- Donald Butler - The Chargers’ ILB corps has been shaky ever since the departure of San Diego native Donnie Edwards in 2006. Butler’s arrival will hopefully turn things around. Butler covers the field well, and is a good tackler. He deomstrated this ability on the national stage by having a very strong game in Washington’s upset of USC. He racked up 13 tackles, 10 of which were solo. He was also a 2nd team All-Pac 10 performer last year. Scouts say that his instincts are too slow, but his other attributes should make up for it. A steal of a pick for a team that badly needed ILB help to find a guy like Butler in the 3rd round.
GRADE : A-
Round 4- Darrell Stuckey- He was a first team all Big 12 player at Kansas twice for a good reason. He is a great tackler, and is a strong blitzer as well. Can use some help learning how to cover passes, but could be a star in a few years when he controls a grasp of the Chargers defense. The only thing that should concern Chargers fans is that instead of getting a free agent, the Chargers decided to draft another safety. The Chargers could use some immediate help at the safety position, and Stuckey will not be ready to take on NFL offenses for another couple of years.
Round 5- Cam Thomas - Another intelligent pick to fill a hole on the defense. By drafting North Carolina’s Thomas, the Chargers were able to please some of the fans who were upset that a DT was not taken with the 1st round selection. Cam Thomas has the size that you look for in a 3-4 DT at 6-4, 330, but he is not quick enough to provide help in the pass rush. His frame will come in handy on run stopping downs, and will help the DT unit that is nowhere near what is was in early to mid 2000s when the defense was one of the best in the NFL.
Round 6- Jonathan Crompton -The Chargers needed to pick up a QB to fill the void that Whitehurst left when he was shipped to Seattle. Crompton, however, may not have been the best choice. With other QBs such as Dan LeFevour and Tony Pike still remaining, they Chargers still selected the lower rated Crompton. While he showed he has a strong arm at Tennesse, his accuracy has been a concern and he did not put up good numbers until his senior season. Crompton has some potential, and he will have a couple of years to work on things before the Chargers need him to step into Billy Volek's #2 spot on the Chargers depth chart.
Round 7- Dedrick Epps- The Chargers needed another TE to take the spot of the departing Brandon Manumaleuna. Manumaleuna primarily served as a blocking TE, and while Epps is an athletic pass catcher, he will still fit into the Chargers offense because Chris Wilson can become the blocking TE in Manumaleuna's absence. Epps is a good player, but his true talents remain a mystery because he was 2nd on the depth chart at Miami, and is coming off knee issues. While Epps has a chance to be a contributor, he is not a offensive lineman, or corner back, two positions that the Chargers needed to go after. Grade- C+
The Chargers filled most of the positions that they needed to fill in order to stay a power in the AFC West. However, they did not prioritize their selections correctly. They could have easily traded for a RB like LenDale White, or drafted a running back later, instead they traded for Mathews. They really could have used more help in the secondary, but instead they chose to take the heir apparent to Billy Volek, and a tight end. . Overall I feel that this draft was strong in the middle rounds when the Chargers got Buter, Stucky, and Thomas, but the weak picks in the front and back ends canceled out the high grades for those selections.
FINAL GRADE- C+