Chargers Pre-Draft Talk: A Haiku for Igor Olshansky

Thomas CrismanContributor IApril 24, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 18:   Igor Olshansky #99 of the San Diego Chargers hits Rex Grossman #8 of the Chicago Bears after a pass during a game on August 18, 2006 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Chargers fans scream stop
Igor Hits; Blood comes out of ears
Igor we will miss you

Seriously? San Diego had the money to pay Quentin Jammer $30 million for six years, but not enough to pay Igor $18 million over four?

The guy was 26 years old and was one of the consistent (read: uninjured) players on defense last year. Plus, for those of you who have never been to a Chargers home game, yelling "Iggggooooorrrrr" after they announce his name on the loudspeakers is darn fun.

San Diego was 31st in pass defense last year but 11th in rushing defense. Opponents in 2008 scored 25 of their touchdowns through the air but only 11 on the ground.

They didn't "stop the run" like they had in years past, but they certainly didn't cave the way the pass defense did again and again. I know the team was hurt by the lack of pass rush, but there's no excuse for the secondary to be that bad when they're getting that much money.

Jamal Williams, one of the most underrated players on the sqaud, is nevertheless starting to show his years at 32. His might be a good roster spot to plan for.

There are still questions regarding Shawn Merriman's knees and Clinton Hart's ability. I for one doubt Hart's capacity to produce.

Issues on D are definitely priority No. 1, but there is another more, uh, sensitive issue on offense:

Is LaDainian Tomlinson reaching the end of his career?

Let me make myself clear about this, because I don't want to be misunderstood.

I think that Tomlinson should stay with the Chargers organization forever. I think they should offer him some kind of assistant coaching position, or at least a spot in the front office after his playing career is over.

Heck, when he dies, I think they should bury him at the 50-yard line in whatever stadium the Chargers are then playing in and put up some kind of "Ted Williams"-like bronzed statue of him somewhere in the Gaslamp district.

His best playing years are behind him, though, and it's clear something like that 2006 season will never be repeated again (by anyone, ever). It's especially unlikely in the era of splitting time in the backfield. Β 

I think his lack of effectiveness last year due to injury was a sign of greater wear and tear on his body. He may have one or two good seasons left, but then he's probably going to have to start sharing carries far more.

All this being said, I don't think Darren Sproles is a full-time answer, and I don't think they should be picking a new running back up just yet, either.

San Diego actually already has a possible future running back at the fullback position; the man's name is Jacob Hester. Maybe it's just the drop-off from Lorenzo Neal that has me doubting Hester's abilities at fullback, but there was something about the running game last year that was just plain off, and it didn't feel like it was coming from the O-line or Tomlinson.

For those of you that don't know, Lorenzo Neal blocked for a couple of guys by the names of Eddie George and Corey Dillon before he blocked for Tomlinson. If memory serves, they were alright at running the ball, too.

Hester always seems to find the holes, though. In the 2008 preseason game versus Dallas, he was the only one on the team who really seemed to know which way they were trying to go on the field.

I guess I can just blame Norv Turner, though. That's always easy enough. Anyway, I think the Chargers should be looking to draft a better blocking fullback and giving Jacob Hester more carries instead of seeking a new workhorse.

I don't expect the Chargers to find another Neal, but they should have been better in 2008 than their 20th ranking in rushing yards per game.

The best way to build a team is through an offensive line, and the Chargers should always be looking to improve there, especially now. I don't think this is as pressing a need as the lack of depth on the defensive line, but it's probably third on the list.

Draft Picks

I have a lot of faith that the Chargers will draft well, I'd make these reccommendations:

  • Defensive End

I think this is where the Chargers should go first. Brian Orakpo from Texas may still be available with the Chargers' first pick, and he's supposedly the top prospect at this position. Β 

I also like Robert Ayers from Tennessee because he played big at the Senior Bowl and was voted First-Team All-SEC by the coaches.

But there are plenty of others who could be argued to be the best pick here; Tyson Jackson from LSU may also be a good selection, as he's got the size and the bulk.

  • Strong Safety

These are really difficult to pick, as a lot of intangibles come into play. One of the best strong safeties in the league, Troy Polamalu, ended up on the Steelers because of a Pittsburgh draft day decision to trade down and get Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel in the draft.

The talent isn't particularly deep this year at this position, so a mid-round pick up of Patrick Chung from Oregon might should be where we set our sights.

  • Offensive Tackle

Michael Oher from Ole Miss and Eben Britton from Arizona are both great run blockers who hopefully will fall far enough for the Chargers to pick up.

If not, Phil Loadholt from Oklahoma is also good at creating push in that run game.

  • Guard

I think Louis Vasquez from Texas Tech will go low enough for the Chargers to nab him.Β  Recall that he was Third-Team All-American as a senior.

  • Fullback

Quinn Johnson from LSU is a great blocker (though not much else). I think whoever takes this guy is going to see a boost in their running game any time they have him in.

In my humble opinion, Johnson is the man to grab if they're going to give Hester more carries this year to judge his potential as a backup for Tomlinson.

  • Running Back

Knowshon Moreno is my first choice here, but the Chargers probably won't and shouldn't use a pick as high as their first rounder for a running back this year. The only way to get a good RB is to draft them, though, so they should start now.

I like James Davis from Clemson somewhere in the mid- to late-rounds. The Chargers should definitely go for a power runner to compliment Sproles.

  • Defensive Tackle

It's doubtful B.J. Raji is going to get all the way down to the 16th spot, nor is it likely that the Chargers will trade up to get him, since this position isn't a pressing need. But I think his partner at BC, Ron Brace, is decent.

Of course, you never know how much being next to Raji just made him look good, and he'll probably go earlier in the draft than the Chargers should be looking for.Β 

Terrance Taylor, a DT from Michigan who's expected to go somewhere in the mid-rounds, might be a good pick up. He's played in the 3-4 and lowered his 40 time on Pro Day from 5.27 to 5.08.

I also like Roy Miller from Texas; he's taller than Taylor (still undersized, though, at 6'1.25"), but he's already got good bulk at 310 pounds and has a great work ethic. He's another potential mid- to late-rounder.


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