After a disappointing 2010 season, the Chargers will have to reload the team through the NFL draft for 2011. The Chargers will have one first round pick, two second round picks, two third round picks and one sixth round pick. This is excluding the compensation picks for Brandon Manumaleuna, Jamal Williams and Kassim Osgood from them leaving via free agency.
Last offseason, San Diego made some key moves to obtain additional draft picks. San Diego traded CB Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets for their second round pick. They traded former third-string QB Charlie Whitehurst to the Seattle Seahawks for their third round pick. The Chargers do not have a seventh round pick, as this pick was traded to Dallas for WR Patrick Crayton.
Nate Solder, Offensive Tackle out of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Solder is clearly one of the better tackles in this year's draft, and the Chargers will not pass him up. He has beastly size (6'9", 315 lbs) and has a large wingspan, which makes him tough for defenders to get around. He has quick feet for such a large man and is both a very good pass blocker and run blocker. Solder was named to the 2010 All-America team and will be a first round pick this Spring.
While Jeromy Clary was decent in 2010, the Chargers are upgrading with this pick. The offensive line will be strong at the tackle position with McNeill playing LT and Solder playing RT.
I don't see the Chargers drafting an offensive tackle for at least the next five years after drafting Solder this year. Good pick up for the Chargers here.
Cameron Heyward falls to the Chargers in the second round and the Chargers get a steal.
Heyward would have been a top 15 pick last year had he entered, but after deciding to return to school, his stock has slightly dropped due to him not having an amazing season like those of Nick Fairley or J.J. Watt. Heyward is 6'6" and weighs 288 lbs, but has a decent first step and above average speed for a big man.
It's not hard to visualize Heyward and Garay tearing up opposing offensive lines in the future for the Chargers. After Heyward's performance against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, there's no doubt that he would be a perfect fit in San Diego.
Casey Mathews has raised his draft stock extremely in these last couple of months.
Matthews is somewhat undersized for a linebacker, as he is 6'2" and weighs 237 lbs, but he makes up for it with his athleticism. He’s also an extremely intelligent player who never takes a play off and gives it everything he has.
Casey has all the fundamental tools a team could ask for in a linebacker. He is a sure-tackler, plays exceptional zone coverage in the pass and is also underrated at rushing the passer.
The Chargers passed on Casey's brother Clay in 2009 and that has shown to be a huge mistake on A.J. Smith's part, but there is no way San Diego doesn't select Casey if he is still available for them. With several of the Chargers' linebackers being free agents, selecting Casey here is a very good move. Pair him with Burnett (he will be back next year), and the Chargers have one of the best linebacking cores in the NFL.
The Chargers secondary was above average last year, there's no doubt about that, but the strong safety position could be upgraded with this pick. Gregory is not the answer at strong safety. He is decent in the playing the run but is somewhat a liability in the pass defense. San Diego doesn't give up big plays in the pass game most of the time, but with the addition of Black the long ball will be taken away from opposing offenses completely.
Ahmad Black has been making plays for Florida's defense over the last four years and helped the Gators win 2 BCS National Championships. He is listed at only 5'9" and 190 lbs, but has a knack for always being around the ball. He is also one of the most athletic defensive backs in this years class. Black has very good speed for a safety as he runs a 4.41 in the 40 yard dash.
Weddle and Black would be an incredible safety duo for the Chargers and lock down the safety positions for many years to come.
Leonard Hankerson is exactly the type of wide receiver the San Diego Chargers normally go for. He's a physical receiver with a huge frame and is measured at 6'3", 215 lbs. He has good speed for a big receiver, as his lowest 40 yard dash time was a 4.45, but he is normally around a 4.52. Hankerson also has large hands and is great at pulling jump balls away from defensive backs. Hankerson has been a huge receiver for Miami and has put up great numbers (134 receptions, 2160 receiving yards, and 22 touchdowns).
With Vincent Jackson, Buster Davis and possibly Legedu Naanee all leaving during this offseason, the Chargers will definitely draft a wide receiver at some point in the draft. Other than Buster Davis a few years ago, Smith doesn't normally take a WR in the first two rounds, but I look for him to make a splash with Hankerson in the third round.
Tall receivers almost always have a home with the San Diego Chargers and would be just one more big target for Phillip Rivers to throw the ball to.
It's almost impossible for A.J. Smith to bring back Darren Sproles at his asking price of close to $7M a year, so it should be almost certain for him to be gone before next season.
Ryan Mathews is now the feature back in San Diego and had a breakout performance in the last game of the regular season against the Denver Broncos, as he rushed for a career-high 120 yards and three TDs. He finally looked like what the Charger nation thought he would be, though he was a huge disappointment due to injury and Mike Tolbert taking his carries. He still will need another back to go alongside him.
That's where Evan Royster comes in. He is a great value and need pick here in the sixth round. Evan is 6'1" tall and weighs 213 lbs. He has 4.4 speed and is elusive in the open field. Royster accumulated 3,932 yards while at Penn State and scored 29 touchdowns.Combine his catching ability, his speed, his quick cuts and his good lateral movement and he would be a great secondary back to Mathews
The Chargers end the draft with a solid pick in Royster.