So with all this talk about the upcoming draft and who we should pick I thought that it would be interesting to reflect upon how confident or "set" we are at all the positions. Now this is only my opinion and I welcome your thoughts on the subject as well – as always. So what I am going to attempt to do is address each position (or group of positions where it applies) and rank them 1- 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst, on how well we match up.
1. QB: Phillip Rivers is the man. I always liked Drew Brees and was nervous when the organization decided to just let him go. But up until that last year there Brees always seemed to be the one who made the wrong play when we needed him to make a GREAT play. Rivers on the other hand seems to have that innate ability to make those tough plays and lead us to that crucial score more often than he makes a bad play. Rivers hasn’t been injury prone to the extent where he can’t play. I think he is quickly ascending the ranks of QBs in the league and is worthy of any "top 5" active QB discussions in the league.
2. LB: We are not only talented here, we are also relatively deep at this position. The three SH-Migo’s (Shawne, Shaun, and & Stephen) are beginning to play at a very high-level. Say what you will about Merriman but when he is on the field he demands attention and most of the time it is in the disguise of double-teams. With Brandon Siler making his name known by not 1 but 2 consecutive goal line stops against the Cowboys I think that he too may be on the rise as well.
3. WR: We are getting really good here too. Especially if you add in the Holy Gates. We may run into depth issues here in the next couple years as our young stars begin to "feel-themselves" but as it stands right now we have the perfect complement of receivers to match our QB and offensive scheme. We could get better with a true 3rd receiver that is lightning quick but its not hurting us right now.
4. TE: Antonio Gates is a monster. Defenses simply can’t match up against him. We also have decent depth at this position for what we use it for. Sure we could add another TE here so that we can run an effective 2 TE set on passing-downs but if you need to add another TE to block so that we can either run or pass then the problem isn’t our TE, its our line.
5. FB: I only put this position in there because we have to and they have a specialized skill. I like Jacob Hester because he is a football player. But size and strength is not two of his greatest assets. I think the position belongs to Tolbert. Our FB has to lead block, catch the occasional pass out the backfield, and every now-and-then carry the ball. If we were to compare this position to other teams with bonafide FBs (say like L. McClain in Baltimore) where would we be? Maybe, LT becomes a 1000 yard back again.
6. DL: We are missing something here. Yeah we have depth and a bunch of good players but we don’t have that "cog" in the middle that demands you run left or run right. We don’t have that "cog" in the middle that says if you use two or more lineman to block me in passing situations then I’m gonna send a missle from my ILB position to crush your QB. We just don’t have it. Our defensive ends don’t make enough plays for me either – on a side note I think Albert Haynesworth is the perfect 3-4 end. If our defensive line was more effective our corps of linebackers would wreak havoc on the opposing team.
7. OL: We have two good potentially great players in this line up I think – LT (M. McNeill) and Center (N. Hardwick). After that we have serviceable talent at the remainder of the positions on our offensive line. And we don’t have depth either. Injuries seem to have plagued this group the last 2 or 3 years as well, forcing us to constantly play musical chairs with our linemen. The proof of how bad we became is in our rushing stats. 31st?! With one of, if not the greatest, running backs we have ever had in Charger’s history?! If it wasn’t for our passing scheme orchestrated almost to perfection by N. Turner and P. Rivers our passing game would have suffered as well. But ultimately it’s mentality when it comes to running the ball and if the offensive line can’t get a 1 yard push off the line of scrimmage then more than likely your running game is going to be non-existent for the most part.
8. DB: I think Eric Weddle is enroute to becoming a great safety in the same form or fashion as John Lynch was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Q. Jammer is a good (better than average) but not great corner who does everything (zone coverage, man coverage, tackling) well but just not great. But overall our DBs suck. They let WRs catch the ball and then tackle them. It would be nice to have DBs whose mentality is one either "when the ball is in the air, it belongs to me" or "the QB may be throwing the ball to you, but you aren’t going to catch it." If we could find that one cover guy who is good enough to make Jammer the #2 corner then we would be great here. The problem is the one we drafted before to do this could never unseat him. As a result we remained vulnerable to the pass when we had to rely on our DBs to make a play.
9. RB: We do not only need 1 RB, we need 2! And preferably a third as well. We don’t have a single back on the roster who has proven capable of carrying the rock all three downs in a series. Sproles is great for the role that he plays in our offense but I doubt there is anyone who would disagree with the fact that he is not the answer at this position. We picked up marcus mason from the Redskins and that’s great, he may become a suitable number 2 but I don’t see him as a fulltime starter as the RB.
So there you have it. My analysis on our teams strengths and weaknesses. What do you think? There could be some tweaking to the list and minor switches in the rankings but overall I think that this captures "who we are" pretty-well. Now if we flip this list upside down, maybe we have just identified our drafting priorities….. maybe.