San Diego Chargers Draft Busts - #7 Jermaine Fazande

I hesitate to even call Jermaine Fazande a bust because he seemed like a joke pick when the Chargers took him. He was a FB at Oklahoma and the Chargers wanted to make him into a RB. You can even see here that NFL Draft Scout had him as a FB. Fazande was tall and big and had the exact build you'd expect a fullback to have. However, the Chargers saw him as a running back and took him as the 29th pick in the second round of the 1999 NFL draft.

Maybe this was some kind of misguided Natrone Means love. Means was a bruiser and was currently doing his second stint with the Chargers, but he wasn't that tall or that big. A quick look around the league in 1998 and you saw a couple of big bruisers having success (Jamal Anderson, Eddie George, Jerome Bettis, Fred Taylor and none nearly as big as Fazande), but for the most part it was players smaller than Means having success (Terrell Davis, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Ricky Watters, Curtis Martin, Garrison Hearst, Marshall Faulk). The Chargers front office must've thought they knew something others didn't. They were dead wrong.

Some things to know about the Jermaine Fazande pick in 1999. This was the Chargers first pick that year. They lost their first round pick due to a trade they made in the previous draft (hello, Ryan Leaf). They also had drafted Jamal Williams in the previous year's supplemental draft and lost their higher second round pick. This pick came from trading Tony Martin to the Falcons. Admittedly, pickings were slim at RB as Olandis Gary was the only RB drafted in 1999 to do anything as a starter and plenty of teams passed on him. Still, this was an odd pick.

Fazande got some touches his rookie year, but Natrone Means was still hanging around so the rookie was kept away from the starter's role for most of the season. Then, in the final game of the season, playing a meaningless game against the Elway-less 6-9 Denver Broncos he had his 15 minutes of fame. 30 carries for 183 yards and a rushing touchdown (their only touchdown) in a 12-6 victory at Mile High. The city had something to dream on as Natrone headed out the door for the second and final time.

The Bolts hedged their bets a little by acquiring another RB-in-a-FB's-body in Robert Chancey (6'0 250 lbs) and they still had Terrell Fletcher on hand. They would need both of them. Fazande got over 100 carries that year, but didn't even crack 400 yards. And of course he was useless out of the backfield. I'm sure part of this had to do with poor QB play (hello again Ryan Leaf and also hello to the tattered remains of Jim Harbaugh) and just as poor offensive line play (two of the linemen retired after that season and two were journeymen). Fletcher got about the same amount of touches and the same amount of yards. The offense was abysmal.

With the 2001 season came a new GM in John Butler and I'm sure he saw in Fazande what the rest of us already knew and had a "What the hell is this guy doing here?" moment. He also saw the Chargers next superstar (and the spitting image of his old favorite RB, Thurmon Thomas) when the draft rolled around and the LaDainian Tomlinson era had begun. Goodbye Fazande, it was surreal knowing you.


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