The time has come. The underwear Olympics of football. The glorified track meet where about 300 or so college athletes participate in a handful of drills to see how fast, quick, strong, and smart they are. Where some players will lose out on a couple million all because they focused to hard on how to run a 40 when they should have polished up their interview skills. Where workout warriors are rewarded with hefty contracts even though the tape doesn't add up.
The Chargers have some glaring needs, most obvious, some not as much. I'm going to tell you about 5 players that as Charger fans we should be looking out for. It's been well documented the Chargers need line help. What kind of lineman though? The Chargers just signed Johnny Patrick, but still have question marks at the Corner back position. What corner has the long speed and cover skills that justify a high pick? I'll cover a couple other positions as well, I don't want to bore you to death with words, so without further ado, here's who fans should be on the look out for.
1. Lane Johnson-Oklahoma-OT
It's been pretty well documented how much of an athlete the 6'6 302 pound Quarterback turned Tight End turned Tackle is. We know he can move, legend has it that he could break the 4.7's at his size right now. His short shuttle should be just as impressive, he's very quick in short areas. The thing we need to know is how strong is he? His initial punch isn't all that impressive, he's still raw with his technique, and occasionally will let a defender cross his face. Bench Press and the kick slide drill will give us a little better understanding about Johnson.
2. Desmond Trufant-Washington-CB
Charger fans can only hope he falls in our laps in the second round with corner being a premium in the NFL. Trufant dominated the Senior Bowl, showing great man to man, awareness, and ball skills. He's shown he is very competitive and even though he is undersized he sticks his nose in there to make a tackle. He's also shown versatility by playing some slot coverage in college. But if you watch Trufant you can see that he opens his hips up early to protect himself from the faster receivers. The combine should show us how fast he really is. Watch the speed turn drill to see if he looks stiff. Also, check for his 40 time to show his true speed, I'm expecting a low 4.4.
3. Kiko Alonso-Oregon-ILB
The inside linebacker no one talks about. The guy is athletically talented as ANY other linebacker there is. He's just not as heralded. More than likely because of off field issues and injuries. But with recent troubles by his peers at the same position that's just a thing of the past. He has good size, he's 6'3 242. He also has very good straight line speed and shows a good burst. He has the athleticism to play man coverage and can flat out hit you. If it wasn't for injuries and being such a late bloomer in his career he would more than likely be pegged as a higher draft pick. What you want to look out for with Alonso is his medicals. He missed the entire 2010 season with a torn ACL, missed the Senior Bowl to let a wrist injury fully heal, so we need to figure out if he is fully healed. He also had a DUI in '10 along with multiple run ins with the law, although none have came within the last couple years. All this being said he hasn't come close to reaching his potential and the Chargers would be lucky to have this kind of talent next year.
4. D.J Swearinger-South Carolina-S
Interesting player here. Played Safety and Corner in college. Was named 2nd team All SEC last year playing both. He's stiff when it comes playing man coverage, but he isn't exactly Atari Bigby in coverage. On the flip side, when he's at safety playing more of the ball hawk role, he has skills and had 5 interceptions the last 2 years at the position. He can come up and be aggressive, whether it's taking on blocks or making a tackle. He could be someone that could come in and start right away with the whole we have at the position. Look out to see how his shuttle's are at the combine, see how quick he is. As well as for his positional drills to see if he can truly turn and run, or if it's something he struggles with.
5. Justin Pugh-Syracuse-OG
It depends who you ask on what his position really is, but it's looking more and more likely that Pugh will be an offensive guard at the next level. Main reasons are his short arms, lack of elite core strength, and has trouble controlling speed rushers, or rushers in general on the outside to protect the edge. The good thing is Pugh has natural athleticism, is very good at mirroring defenders and gets to the second level very quickly. So for the ZBS the Chargers are likely headed towards, he would be a good fit and would come in and start immediately as well. At the combine we should keep an eye on his bench press, see where it ranks among other prospects in his position, as well as his medicals. Pugh had a shoulder injury last year, so that's something to take into account.