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San Diego Chargers Draft Successes - #3 LaDainian Tomlinson

You thought I had forgotten about these, didn't you? Just because the contest associated with these posts involved correctly predicting the first round of the NFL Draft doesn't mean I'm giving up! We're so close to the end! I'll throw the sponsor a bone here in the first paragraph and say "Drink Bud Light. It's not the most disgusting thing you could be drinking."

Anyway, onto the pick. I figured something out this offseason, and that is that I was never really angry at LaDainian Tomlinson. Rather, I was angry with his supporters. The people that were shouting at the top of their lungs about the Chargers being dumb for releasing Tomlinson. "Look at how good he is with the Jets! He never lost a step!" I don't know, his 60 yards per game average is pretty familiar looking.

In all honesty, Tomlinson might be my favorite Chargers player ever. However, and long-time readers of this blog can probably attest to this, I have been saying for years now that he needs to be splitting carries. His body, mostly his legs, have taken too much of a pounding for him to hold up during an entire season anymore. Also, he's almost totally ineffective against very physical teams. The Jets figured out the first part of that problem over the course of the second, but didn't learn the second part until their final playoff game against the Steelers in 2010.

Let's not concern ourselves with LT's departure and what he's done since. Let's go back to what he did with the Chargers.

  • 3rd all-time in games played (141) with the Chargers
  • 1st in rushing attempts (2,880), which is almost 3x what the 2nd place guy (Marion Butts) did.
  • 1st in rushing yards (12,490)
  • 1st in rushing TDs (138), 2nd place (Chuck Muncie) had 43.
  • 1st in rushing yards per game (88.6)
  • 7th in fumbles (27). This might be my favorite stat, because if you consider how many rushing attempts he had, the number is absurdly low. He actually fumbled on less than 1% of his carries.

Quite simple, LaDainian Tomlinson is probably the best player in the history of the San Diego Chargers. Some would argue Dan Fouts is ahead of him for playing 14 seasons in San Diego against Tomlinson's 9, but you're just splitting hairs there.

Although Tomlinson was the #5 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, he someone managed to be a steal. The four players taken ahead of him were Michael Vick, Leonard Davis, Gerard Warren and Justin Smith. Do you suppose that the teams that made those picks might want a do-over?

Any time you can get a first-ballot Hall of Famer it's going to be a great value pick (Peyton Manning, anyone?). If you can get him outside of the top three or four picks, that value increases exponentially. That's why Tomlinson cracked our top three of the best Chargers draft picks of the last 15 or so years.


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