The San Diego Chargers haven't been able to close the deal. That has to be their motto for the past 20 years. From Stan Humphries and a no-show performance in the 1995 Super Bowl, to Drew Brees and the failures of Marty Schottenheimer, or the latest debacles of Norv Turner.
You can even kick it back to Dan Fouts. No matter the era, countless talented Chargers teams just haven't been able to get over that hump.
However, with so much talent, every year brings more optimism. The Chargers are stacked, people. They have an absolute stud at just about every position. They can compete with anybody. There's just something intangible that isn't there. Maybe it's toughness. Maybe it's leadership. Maybe it's swagger.
All we really know is that San Diego generally starts slow and ends hot, but in 2010 just was a slow, hot mess. With Turner likely on his last leg as head coach, 2011 is officially time for this roster to put it's money where it's mouth is.
But before they have to face the pressure again, they get reinforcements, and the new guys could bring the extra push this team needs. And that's not just hopeful blabbering. The Chargers have a whopping five selections in the first 89 picks. Even if they're moderately successful, they should pull one or two 2011 starters from this class.
Round 1 (Pick 18) - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The Chargers badly miss Igor Olshansky and Jamal Williams. Their defensive line has been the only part of their defense that opponents can push around, so adding a beast up front is probably objective A heading into this draft. Heyward has a fantastic blend of size, strength, and talent, making him the perfect first pick for this team. The only problem is, he's good enough to go earlier than the 18th selection.
Round 2 (Pick 50) - DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson
With any talented players in a mock, you naturally run the risk of your chosen player being long fun when the real picks start rolling in. Regardless, Mcdaniel is a second-round grade with first-round potential. McDaniel can make plays and lay the hits on thick, and would be immediately upgrading San Diego's only major weak link in the secondary.
Antonio Gates is still one of the best tight ends in the game today (if not the best), but he's over 30 and constantly dealing with foot/leg injuries. That's not good for a guy who makes plays with his lower body. Gates can still be an elite tight end for a few more season if he can remain fairly healthy, but now would be a good time to start looking for his eventual replacement. Kendricks, size, quickness and reliable hands make for a good under-study.
San Diego still has a good pass rush and overall defense, but they've clearly felt the void that the formerly explosive Shawne Merriman left. The Chargers could use some fresh blood to throw at the quarterback, and the versatile Matthews has the skills and potential to be a very solid edge rusher in San Diego's system.
Round 3 (Pick 89) - Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State
Vincent Jackson is expected back for at least one more season, but with his future uncertain and Malcom Floyd and Legadue Naanee both possibly out the door, San Diego needs to start thinking about bolstering their receiving corps. Even if one or two of those guys stay, the Chargers could still use a quick receiver who can work the slot effecitvely. Brown is a hometown player who fits the bill.
Round 4 - No Selections
Round 5 - No Selections
Round 6 (Pick 178) - Chris L. Rucker, CB, Michigan State
San Diego's secondary is probably one of it's strengths, but it's never a bad thing to add depth to an area where you're already doing pretty well. Rucker is a physical corner who can add solid depth in nickel and dime packages.
Round 7 - No Selections
Per this mock, San Diego misses out on beefing up their offensive line, and that's unfortunate, but if they trade one of their third rounders for a package of any assortment of third, fourth, or fifth round picks, they could add some more value and attack the depth of that position.
However, as it sits, the Chargers could be in for a stellar draft. This mock offers them a stud defensive end, which they sorely need, an eventual replacement or insurance policy for Antonio Gates, an impact pass rusher, and some depth at receiver and corner. Overall, the Charger fan base would have to be fairly pleased.
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