In the 2012 NFL Draft, The San Diego Chargers selected TE Ladarius Green in the fourth round. After dominating the San Diego State Aztec defense in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Game, a lot of Chargers Fans were (and still are) excited to see what he can bring to the team.
Green displayed everything he is capable of doing against SDSU: Lining up at Flanker for jump ball situations on the goal line, motioning out of the slot into H-Back position for lead blocking duties, even being the designated receiver to get YAC out of the bubble screens.
For Chargers Fans, it was a sigh of relief. At last, Norv Turner and AJ Smith had found a possible successor to Antonio Gates. And with the eventual release of Randy McMichael and Dante Rosario, Ladarius was sure to have an impact somewhere in 2013. Right?
Not so fast.
With the recent additions the San Diego Chargers have made, I am finding it hard to plug Ladarius Green into a contributing role for the team in 2013.
Tom Telesco picked up free agent John Phillips from Dallas, a record-breaking 15 seconds after the green light was given to sign players via free agency, to add depth to the position. This move made sense at the time, Green would be the eventual "successor" to Gates and Phillips would be the #2 TE of the future.
Unfortunately for Ladarius, the Chargers General Manager didn't stop there. He also handed undrafted TE Dallas Walker contract that is not as lucrative as Phillips' but is 3 years in length. That's a sign that Telesco likes Walker quite a bit. Keep in mind, the Indianapolis Colts' team of scouts were at Western Michigan's Pro Day last year where Walker had a 4.7 40 yard dash, put up 19 bench reps and a jumped a 31" vertical with his 6'6" frame. Tom Telesco sent his men to check Walker out once more at the Super Regional Combine in Dallas where he reportedly impressed the scouts.
If you have a 6'6'' pass-catching Tight End on your roster already, why would you need to go out and get two extra ones with similar builds? Ask yourself, with a roster that is thin at Cornerback, Strong Safety and Outside Linebacker, can the San Diego Chargers really afford to give 10 of the available 53 roster spots to 4 Tight Ends and 6 Wide Receivers?
Keeping defenses off-balance
Ladarius Green has all the measurables. I have no doubt he can play, but I do think that there are 1 or 2 better options on the roster for every facet of his game. He is a tweener at the TE position and a one-dimensional tweener at this point. I understand that he is big and fast and these types of TEs are the new "love" of the league, but Green offers so little in the protection game that opposing defenses can be certain that he'll be releasing when he's in the game.
The rookie TE was in on 39 plays for San Diego last year, and blocked on just 6 of them. That tells me that Ladarius Green made little-to-no progress as a blocker, or at least not enough to be effective in Norv Turner's offensive scheme. This could be a reason the Chargers decided to go out and sign guys to compete with Green that are less likely to tip the offense's hand when in the game.
Ladarius Green as a Wide Receiver?
Using Ladarius out of the slot or lining up in empty sets is an idea that I've heard often, essentially making Green a full-time WR that wouldn't have to do much blocking. While his athleticism looks good in these sets on paper, which WR do you take off of the field and is Green an improvement over them?
If all of the receiving options make it out of camp without injury, Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen all are the better options and may be just as effective blocking out of those sets as LaDarius Green would be. Tough to fit the kid in.
Ladarius Green vs SDSU 2011 "New Orleans Bowl"
The consensus says if you have an athlete like this, you find a way to put him on field. But what if he's no better than the guys that are already on the field in front of him?