San Diego Chargers: "Don't Get a First Round Running Back!"

Heneli IongiAnalyst IMarch 18, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers walks on to the field prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Jets at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

To start thing off, I'm just going to say, I'm sick of hearing people talking about the Chargers drafting a running back in the first round of this year's draft.

I'm tired of seeing all of these Mock Drafts saying the Chargers will draft Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews.  I honestly believe the Chargers will draft a 3-4 nose-tackle in the first round, but I'll save that argument for another article.

My statement is pure and simple: The San Diego Chargers will NOT draft a RB in the first round due to being a passing team, a deep RB draft class, having other needs to address on the team, and that it's not a "feature back" that the Chargers need but a "diverse committee" of RB's to help out what the Chargers are good at, which is passing the "rock".  

It's no secret, the Chargers are considered amongst the elite passing teams in the NFL.

If you look at the top ten elite passing teams in the league, eight out of those ten teams made the play-offs.  The Chargers win games on passing the ball.  Their record proves it.

I mean I'll take a 13-3 record passing the ball any day.  If the point is to win games and passing the ball gets you those wins, why bother even running the ball?  If you look at the Colts, they got to the Super Bowl by doing what they do best, and that's passing the ball.  The Saints got to the Super Bowl by passing the ball.

Hell, both teams went on 13-0 at one point by passing the "rock" around like it's nothing.

The Chargers have Philip Rivers and he's good at distributing the ball around just like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.  We're a pass first and run later type of team.  Knowing this, why should we draft a RB in the first round if we're a passing team?

This year's RB draft class is the deepest I had ever seen it.  Look, we don't need a first round RB for the following reason: we aren't looking for a running back to carry the load.

Passing teams that draft a RB in the first round are usually unsuccessful at achieving what most people expect from them.  Do you honestly think that the Chargers will run more this year if we draft a running back in the first round?

The Colts drafted a RB in the first round twice in the last couple of years and they still pass the ball as if they didn't draft a RB in the first round.

The Saints drafted RB Reggie Bush in the first round but they don't even run the ball with him.  He's a situational guy and very diverse but the Saints can win without him.

Most passing teams that I've seen that draft a RB in the first round tend to not change much.  I do know that most teams that do draft a QB in the first round tend to pass the ball more.  I don't see that happening with passing teams that have a great QB changing their game plan to a running team cause' they drafted a RB.  Look at Beanie Wells of the Arizona Cardinals.  The Cardinals still pass the ball.  

Let's look at the "first round" RB's to supposedly go first are CJ Spiller, Jahvid Best, and Ryan Mathews.  In so many Mock Drafts, they have the Chargers taking Ryan Mathews.  Don't get the wrong idea about me not liking this pick or Ryan but I feel we don't need him considering the type of offense the Chargers run.

Ryan Mathews played for a smash-mouth football program at Fresno State.  All they do is run the ball.  He's good at it and gets many carries.  The Chargers are, like I stated many times, a passing team.  If Ryan Mathews get drafted then he'll likely be getting the same amount of carries that L.T. had which was in the low 200's.  In a 16 game season, that isn't many carries.

Out of the top ten elite passing teams in the league, only three out of those ten teams had a 1,000-yard-or-more running back.  The Chargers can pick up a good RB in the late rounds.

Available RB's include Jonathan Dwyer, Toby Gerhart, Joe McKnight, Dexter McCluster, Montario Hardesty, Ben Tate, Anthony Dixon, LaGarrette Blount, Stafon Johnson, Joique Bell, and my underdog favorite, Matt Asiata just to name a few.  Any one of these players can come in and produce with the Chargers as well as those I didn't have a chance to name.  

The Chargers are in need of a run-stuffing nose tackle that'll be able to plug holes in any opposing team's running game.  Their are very few quality NT's in this year's draft and I don't think the Chargers, who are a passing team remember, can afford to get a RB without addressing that need.

Everyone thinks the Chargers are getting a RB but let me explain why the Chargers, due to this reason, won't get one.

Last year, everyone had different feelings about who the Chargers were going to draft.  Some said the right tackle position needed fixing and a lot had Rey Mauluga going in the first to the Chargers.  No one saw Larry English being a first round pick to the Chargers.  The reason why he was drafted is because, although we had other needs, we lacked major pass rush during that previous season when Shawn Merriman was hurt.

It's the very same reason why the Chargers won't draft a RB this year, due to the fact the Chargers didn't do so well against the run last season and it showed during the play-offs against a tough Jets team.

When Jamal Williams went down for the season, the Chargers tried their best to patch up that hole left by Jamal Williams season-ending injury.  Everyone that knows the 3-4 defense also would point out that the key to the 3-4 defense is the NT.  Without that "wall of a player" being able to plug up the middle running lanes, the linebackers won't be able to do their job.  This is why the Chargers will go after their ultimate need, not a RB that won't be able to run the ball that often.  

I hear everyone over-using the term "feature back".  When you look at the Chargers, they can either go two ways: the Colts way of getting to the Super Bowl, who lost, or the Saints way to the Super Bowl, who won.

The Colts, like I've already mentioned, drafted a RB in the first round twice in the past couple of years.  It didn't panned out for them for the simple fact that, on a passing team, you have to have a RB that can do it all.  If you look at the Saints RB's, they have a committee of RB's.  They don't have a do-it-all RB but they have different RB's with different types of running style.

Imagine the Saints getting ready for the Colts and besides worrying about the Colts passing game, they don't have to worry about the running game because they mostly use two running backs with nearly identical styles of running.  They didn't do much for the Colts during the season and during the play-offs.  The Saints on the other hand had Mike Bell, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas.

Included with those RB's is one hell of a potent passing game.  How does the Colts defense game plan against that?  Who do you get ready for?

The Saints don't have a "feature back" or try to make it out like they have just one.  The Saints have three different "feature backs" that have different running styles and abilities to compliment their passing game.

The Colts always try to look for that "feature back" in just one player.  By the way, the Saints were ranked sixth in rushing to go with the fourth in passing offense in the league.  Why should the Chargers try get a "feature back" when only three out of the ten top passing teams have a "feature back" with a 1,000-or-more yards?  

So I ask all of you.  Which route do we take?  The Colts route, like all of you think we should go in, by drafting a RB in the first round who can supposedly do it all.  Or should we take the Saints route and have a "diverse committee" of RB's with different abilities to compliment our passing game.

The Chargers had that "Saints" approach before the Saints ever had it a couple of years back.  Back when the Chargers had L.T., Michael Turner, and Darren Sproles.  During those years, the Chargers were always ranked in both rushing and passing in the top ten.  I hope that is the route we're taking.  

In closing, I honestly believe we're going in that route by the way I see the Chargers adding different types of depth at RB.  AJ Smith started by adding Marcus Mason who brings youth and a ability to run the ball effectively in a shotgun oriented offense much like the one he ran in college.

The Chargers so far still retain Darren Sproles although I feel we're only tagging him only to get a draft pick(s).  If Darren Sproles end up staying with the Chargers for another season then we can continue to utilize him in certain running situations and especially in the screen game.  No one in the NFL run screens better than Darren Sproles.

The only thing the Chargers are truly missing is a power running back which the Chargers have been without since losing Michael Turner to the Free Agency.  Like I said earlier, this is a deep draft with different types of running backs.

You folks must remember that we already have some capable power running backs with Jacob Hester and Mike Tolbert.  I hope this will make some of you think about the many reason I believe the Chargers won't draft a RB in the first round and why they shouldn't.  I hope the Chargers continue to make good decisions this upcoming draft just like they've always had.


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