San Diego Chargers: The Ryan Mathews Effect

Kyle MillerContributor IAugust 25, 2010

As you should know, Ryan Mathews was selected 12th during the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Chargers had to trade up to this spot to select him but it definitely was a good move. The Chargers were in need of a new running back after last season they when they were 31st in the league in rushing yards.

Darren Sproles really wasn't a good every down back so the Chargers needed someone new following the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chargers were looking toward the draft to pick up a quality back for the future.

Coming into the draft there were two very highly regarded backs, C.J Spiller and Mathews. Spiller was selected a few picks earlier at the ninth spot by the Buffalo Bills.

The Chargers are said to have traded a little too far up for Mathews but it was truly needed. No other running back in the draft lived up to these two and the Chargers truly needed to obtain one of them.

Mathews has been a Chargers fan his whole life. He was born in Bakersfield. He attended Fresno State for three seasons setting many school and WAC records. Just like Tomlinson, he also attended a WAC schoo.

He also wore No. 21 in college mainly due to his love for Tomlinson. It's safe to say that he probably would have loved to have played and have been mentored by Tomlinson.

Mathews has the looks of the next big thing and I can see him following in Tomlinson's footsteps. The Chargers have lost a lot of talent during the offseason and All-Pro left tackle Marcus McNeill is currently holding out. The Chargers still possess a strong offensive line with players such as Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick.

But, McNeill's absence really leaves a hole on the left side of the line.

If McNeill finally reports to camp and he does suit up for the first week of the season, Mathews could truly have a breakout season. Luckily for Mathews, Vincent Jackson is suspended for the first four games of the season so the Chargers may rely on the run more than usual if it is effective.

In the first two preseason games, Mathews averaged around 4.5 yards-per-carry each game. He played mainly with the starters so those were fairly decent numbers for playing exclusively in the first half. He is similar to Tomlinson in his playing style. He can run it inside and it can break loose outside.

Obviously Mathews isn't as explosive as Tomlinson was in his prime but he could become close to it. He isn't as good in the open field but he can still break tackles in the open field. He isn't an easy player to bring down and he isn't too slow either.

Mathew is a nice combo of a guy like Michael Turner that can break tackles and he can also break loose like Chris Johnson but he isn't as good as either of these guys as of yet.

He has still yet to prove his true worth in the NFL. He truly does seem promising though. Mathews gets to work behind a pretty good offensive line unlike Spiller which will make it easier on Mathews.

I can see him averaging around 4.6-4.7 yards per carry, which would be very good for a rookie. His potential is out of this world. He reminds me a lot of Tomlinson and I feel that he will be the running back in San Diego for many years to come.

I hope he has the kind of impact that Tomlinson had on San Diego, but that will surely be a very tough thing to do.