2010 NFL Draft: Ryan Matthews a Nicer Fit Than CJ Spiller or Best For Bolts

Eric GomezAnalyst IApril 22, 2010

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ryan Matthews #21 of the Frenso State Bulldogs runs with the ball during the game against the UCLA Bruins on September 27, 2008 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Soon, the likes of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay will either bow or boast to the blogosphere.

The NFL Draft is less than 24 hours away, and while technically there are 32 mysteries regarding who each team will select, not many of those are harder to predict than A.J. Smith's San Diego Chargers.

While not developing an Al Davis-like reputation for draft day unpredictability, Smith and Co. have done their share to bust draft boards during the past few seasons.

Last season, when many were pegging San Diego to pick a running back or an offensive lineman, Smith selected LB/DE Larry English with the 16th pick of the draft.

Granted, no one was quite ready for the precipitous decline that LaDainian Tomlinson would have in 2009, but it was apparent that San Diego had to brace for a changing of the guard at some point or another.

Well, that point has arrived.

Ultimately, whether it be in the first round or in later selections, the San Diego Chargers will definitely select their running back of the future in the next three days. Most likely.

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Either way, experts and laymen alike are pegging the Chargers to take one of the multiple standouts at tailback coming out of college this year.

A variety of prospect names have been mentioned, ranging from the Ryan Matthews of the world and the C.J. Spillers, to the Toby Gerharts and Joe McKnights of the world potentially landing in Charger Park this spring.

Despite what Tomlinson says, Norv Turner is a run-first coach. Specifically, a "run up the middle on every first-and-10" coach.

To this end, Matthews' 6'0", 217-pound frame is much better suited than Spiller's 5'11", 196.

Matthews' excellent combine may also weigh heavily on Chargers' brass, who favor mental makeup to go along with physical prowess. Witness Antonio Cromartie's disgraceful exit from San Diego as an example.

Craving a version of Chris Johnson might be a little too much to ask for from this draft class, but Jahvid Best is the one who comes closest to that description.

However, injury questions and an even slighter frame should make him a red flag for San Diego, who have their own injury-prone former first-round selections to deal with (Buster Davis).

Matthews may not be Chris Johnson, or LaDainian Tomlinson for that matter, but he could flourish in Turner's system, becoming the final piece of the coach's newest "triplets."

Despite facing somewhat mediocre competition in the WAC while playing for Fresno State, Matthews showed he could match up to the big boys.

In games against Wisconsin, Cincinnati, and Boise State, the ex-Bulldog racked up nearly 500 yards and got into the end zone four times.

It's that big-game reputation that has been escaping San Diego in their latest playoff runs, a knock that dogged Tomlinson himself when he was either out of crucial games due to injury or made ineffective by opposing defenses.

Ryan's ability to run inside will also prove useful considering San Diego's offensive line is still a huge question mark.

Injuries to Marcus McNeill and Nick Hardwick were overcome by the most part in 2009, but the right side is still anchored by Jeromy Clary, the definite weak link of the group.

And yet, with mounds of evidence piling up, tomorrow Smith might not be convinced, selecting another player, prove us right by taking Matthews, or zag in a completely different direction as he often has.

With trade talk involving Darren Sproles heating up, there might be a chance that San Diego's selection might not even be 28th tomorrow night.

As always, your best Al Davis impersonation is appreciated, AJ.

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