Hey guys, I just sorta serendipitously discovered this great site and decided to introduce myself with this post. I've been an avid Chargers fan for years, posting on various message boards around the net, but have not found a Chargers site that has looked nearly as amazing as this one. Enough with this, and let's move on to the meat of my post!
First off, let's take a look at some of our free agents.
Vincent Jackson (Franchise Tag)
A gimme with the current rules since he was already tagged, the new CBA will likely uphold it. The recent press indicates he'll play for the 10 mil.
I cannot fathom us letting him go. Far too vital for our defense. Unspectacular player in the stat sheet, but is the type of key cog we need. Perhaps with the new addition of Bob Sanders he'll make some more plays, but regardless he should be priority #1.
Has been Rivers go to guy since they were on the scout team. Simply has a rapport with him unlike any other. Great fit for our system, has the confidence of those who matter. Health is an issue but I think he will be deemed to valuable to walk.
With three free agents at this position, we could be looking awfully thin in short order. While I wish we could keep Coop and Burnett, reality is that probably will not happen. Cooper is certainly not the athlete Burnett is, but he is the defensive leader. He is essential for making calls, alignments etc. He was missed in the games he was injured as the ground game was exploited (raiders, bengals). Burnett likely earned himself a nice payday greater than what Coop is in line to get. Burnett on the other hand showed us what type of explosive playmaker he is when healthy. He made some spectacular plays behind the line of scrimmage, had great sack numbers, forced turnovers and really added athleticism to the position that it has been lacking in recent years. The flipside of him is his health as it has been a constant issue. Some media members seem to think that the Chargers are leaning towards keeping Burnett, which I believe to be a great move depending on price, but the intangible value Cooper provides as a leader cannot be replaced. You can bet that Rivera will be going after these two, and likely Weddle if given a shot.
Like to Retain
Not my favorite player but he played in more snaps than any other player on the offense. Solid player that AJ will value. If not retained, Dombrowski showed he could be an adequate replacement.
I don't think they will like the alternative scenarios. Knows the system, team trusts him. It will come down to if another team thinks he can start. It's a quarterback starved league so you never know, but I think he stays. One caveat is Alex Smith. Norv has a rapport with him and he could have a higher upside, not that it is needed much mind you.
He is a valuable backup that can play multiple positions. He can start in a crutch and contribute. With a fair offer I think he stays.
Will always have a permanent place as a Charger for what he has done for the franchise. Other teams will likely offer more. Wants to stay and says if presented a fair offer he'll take it. I think other teams will set the market, hopefully it won't be too high. Extremely cautiously optimistic.
Would really like to keep him but proved he could be a productive starter. He probably wants to start and another team will likely provide more money and opportunity.
One has a good chance at staying. Johnson probably has more ability and, while limited, more upside. Cesaire is a pure team guy who has been a valued role player and sub. I personally like them both but only one will likely stay. Team needs an upgrade here more than any other position.
Never truly developed into the player his talent promised. Has good hands, good special teamer and powerful runner but injuries nagged. Arrest sunk this ship.
A fiery and valuable player who was an asset as a great special teams ace and run stopping force. Love him back but will another team (panthers) ante up more?
An underrated contributor in my opinion. Began as a physical, but somewhat limited, CB. Began to blossom as a S. Not great but made plays and still has potential. Hopefully we bring him back but will the Sanders signing be a hurdle? If the longtime Colt has proven anything lately, it is that he needs a good backup. I still like Stuckey, but would like more of a safety net.
I see our needs as DE, OLB, ILB, WR, CB, OL, S, RB ordered from highest to lowest priority. A heavily defense–oriented draft would be preferred.
Biggest need by far on the team in my estimation. Castillo has not developed into the stud, at least statistically, everyone imagined he would become but is still a very good player. Martin has progressed nicely with hard work and he has some talent to dream on but not enough to make this less of a concern or need. An athletic run stifling force with the ability to slide inside and cause havoc on passing downs is needed. The defense is lacking playmakers and this is where we need to begin that quest.
Philips is a stud. I am still a fan of English. If he could have stayed healthy last year I think he would have been very productive. He played in half the games and less than half the snaps as the previous year, not to mention while being seriously injured, but was still a more productive pass rusher. He consistently created pressure in some of his later games. I can still see a Woodley like player developing, but he needs to stay healthy. Barnes is a nice backup pass rusher, even if the only thing he really has going for him at the moment is speed. He has potential. Tucker needs to step up and I think his roster spot is at risk. Applewhite has been a cog, but how much potential is there? One thing is certain: an upgrade is needed for the pass rush and this is the spot to provide it.
Butler had the coaches drooling. Potential is intriguing and hopefully he'll be back but that injury he suffered is tricky. With the uncertainty surrounding FA and 3 players here without contracts, new blood will be supplied at the position.
AJ has tendencies, and this positions illustrates two of them extremely well. The first is he like to take cover men early, and with good frequency. The second is that he is always looking ahead to fill needs before they arise. Jammer is an absolutely outstanding player. He epitomizes the type who should be targeted. He is a fantastic athlete with a tireless work ethic who overcame scrutiny and adversity admirably, and unlike any other player in the league, when the rules changed. With that stated, he is still aging. While he can be a productive corner for at least a couple more years, a new player could be groomed as his eventual replacement. An upgrade at nickelback would be welcomed as a boon. Jammer will make a heck of a safety once his corner days are over.
Jackson will be in the fold along with Crayton and Ajirotutu, but will Floyd be back? One way or another some young talent will need to be provided. A returner is likely needed if Sproles leaves so this could conceivably fill a couple holes. A shifty slot guy has been missing from this offense and could provide PR with a safety net unlike any he has had here before. Davis could have been tailor-made for the slot, but alas that ship sailed when he was put on IR again. Crayton has looked capable in that role though and they do seem to prefer bigger wideouts so the smaller prototype of the general slot receiver is not a given to be selected by a longshot.
Depending on if Clary leaves, this area could shoot up the list. Early indications are that the Chargers are looking at a RT with an early pick. This is a great year for that particular need. Depth is always welcome.
Stuckey is a hard worker with intangibles and athletic ability but his early injury set him back and he could not recover. He has potential and the makeup to live up to it. He is actually billed as similar to Weddle in a variety of ways. I think he can recover and become a starter eventually. The Sanders signing made this less of a need, and may have created an ideal situation because when the inevitable injuries hit, Stuckey will be there to step up. In the meantime he'll develop as a role player. I still see this as an area that could be upgraded however.
Mathews will be a star, if he stays healthy. I am optimistic. But with Sproles likely gone, a new scat back would be welcome. A shifty back who can return would be preferable.
Round 1 - 18th Pick
Considerations: Watt, Heyward, Jordan, Wilkerson, Liuget, Smith, Ayers, Clayborn
Jordan would be ideal but most likely gone. Ditto for Watt it seems. I'm not entirely sold on Heyward due to a consistency issue. Wilkerson is a small school, but intriguing option. I like Liuget a lot as a fit in the defense. Smith has the potential to be a force off the edge but needs to be refined. The Chargers have the players in front of him to let him develop. Ayers can fill multiple roles and be a really valuable player, even if it doesn't show up on the stat sheet necessarily. Combine was a little worrisome though and there are questions over his toughness.He could move around at ILB, OLB and DE providing many options for our new dc to take advantage of though. Clayborn seems more like a 4-3 end in a lot of ways.
I think Smith, Jordan and Watt will be gone. DE is the biggest need imo and it comes down to Heyward, Wilkerson and Liuget.
Pick: Corey Liuget – DE – Illinois
Ultimately my gut tells me we are going to trade up. I am not going to forecast that yet however. Liuget is a stout, physical and quick interior lineman that will be able to hold the point, stuff the run and generate a pass rush. He is the kind of under the radar selection that AJ is accustomed to making. Casts similarities to the surprise Castillo pick.
Round 2 - Pick 50
If Phil Taylor is here I think you have to take a long look at the selection. Garay is great, but comes with injury issues. Thomas has potential but if Taylor is there in the 2nd, can you pass him? A NT is very hard to find and DL depth is a scare commodity. Alas, I think he is gone making it an easier decision. If OLB is taken first, then Ballard is a good alternative to consider along with Jenkins of Clemson.
Pick: Jabaal Sheard – OLB – Pitt
A tenacious pass rusher with a non stop motor and physical disposition. Some character concerns stemming from a brawl seem to be overblown as he is considered a good student with a good history. Will instantly upgrade the rush with a guy who could ultimately be a steal.
Round 2 - Pick 61
Pick: Kelvin Sheppard – ILB
The Chargers will need another ILB after likely losing multiple players at the position. I think Sheppard is a perfect fit as he is a leader coming from the best conference in college football who will bring an aggressive attitude to the front seven in both the run and passsing game. Exactly the type AJ likes to target. Will provide a real solid presence to the defense and may not be a huge play maker but can be a key cog.
Round 3 - Pick 82
Pick: Chris Hairston – RT – Clemson
Big, physical and heady guy to plug in at RT to replace or supplant Clary.
Round 3 - Pick 89
Pick: Tandon Doss – WR – Indiana University
I go to IU so this is a homer pick to an extent, but still fits the team's model and system. A bigger receiver with very good athleticism who fits the mold of other Chargers receivers. He has great hand eye coordination, hands, leaping ability and deceptive speed. Can get down the field and snatch the ball away from defenders. Not a burner, but a hard worker who AJ will like. Could shoot up boards.
Pick: Demarcus Van Dyke – CB – Miami
A very talented cover corner with the physical attributes teams will love. Fastest 40 at the combine, but does not have great tape and did not always start. Contributed to the community as well. Could be long gone by this point but production and physicality could drop him.
We could have a few compensation picks as well. I believe we need to focus on defense in the draft while shoring up the offense in a couple areas. This draft would solidify the front 7 and provide depth to the roster.