Chargers Draft Prospectus VIII

Could the Chargers do the unexpected come Draft day in April and actually pick a player in a position they are already strong at? You betcha! A first round pick they adore may be still on the board and keeping with the best player available policy, there may be none better than Rodney.

Everyone talks about drafting to fix weaknesses; this may not always be necessarily the most efficient way to build a team however. The issue here is that if a team brings a strong player into a weak unit, opponents can quickly neutralize the impact of that player by double-teaming or playing away from them.

Consider the Giants of the early 1980's when they took Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks in the first rounds in 1981 and 1984, despite the fact it was the only competent unit on the team at the time.

It is possible to create a super unit that make all other units on the team better simply because opponents have to invest so much in stopping the good unit that the weaker ones "raise their play" or are freed up to make plays.

The same goes for a team such as the Oakland Raiders who invested in Jerry Porter while Jerry Rice and Tim Brown sit ahead of them on the depth chart. Teams in the AFC West now are scrambling to find enough competent cornerbacks to defend the stellar unit. It has proven to be quite effective as guys like Doug Jolley and Roland Williams are free to make plays making the unit that much stronger.

OK, so get to the point you say.

The San Diego Chargers have very real eyes on a linebacker, a position of strength even if Junior Seau goes elsewhere. Zeke Moreno and Carlos Polk stabilize this unit, despite their lack of gameday experience.

When you consider the need of cornerback, along the offensive line, and at defensive tackle, the need for a linebacker is not even in the same league.

The most talented linebacker available, Boss Bailey, may be available at pick 15. Not only is he the best at his position, he may be the best available player at that point in the Draft. John Butler is known not to reach, but willingly pick the best player, ignorant to what position they play.

Rodney "Boss" Bailey
Georgia
Linebacker
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 230
40 Time: 4.35
Vertical Jump: 44.5
Long Jump: 10' 11"

The next productive football player from the Bailey household. Athletic, explosive and a complete linebacker. Breaks down well, efficient defending the run and terrific in pass coverage. Gets depth on his drops covering an exceptional amount of area on the field to the point where he is effective over the slot receiver on third and long situations. Easily runs down the field opposing tight ends, smooth turning back to the ball and redirects to the pass nicely in mid-air, making the tough interception. Quick changing direction, scrapes well to the flanks and stays on his feet. Deceptively strong and slides off blocks on his way to the action. Squares into the tackle and easily brings opponents down on initial contact. Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview


Bailey is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of pure talent. Entering the combines and the Draft some questions arose on his weight, but he has proven by adding a few pounds, he will not lose any speed or athleticism.

"I feel like I'm very fluid, a guy who can chase the ball, somebody who will make big plays if given the opportunity," said Bailey.

During his senior season he contributed 113 tackles, 10 stuffs, six sacks, 11 QB pressures and one forced fumble. All that plus he blocked three field goals during the season. In 2001, he intercepted five passes from his linebacker spot.

Bailey has it all, a combination of impressive drop and cover skills that has just recently been turned on to rushing the quarterback and excelling at it. Many observers think he was playing out of position his entire Georgia football career and yet he has still come away wowing scouts. He suggested during the combines that he was a drop-and-cover linebacker about 60 percent of the time, which is startling given his stats.

"If there's anybody in the country who's a better linebacker than Boss, I'd like to see him," Georgia receiver Terrence Edwards said. "You're talking about a guy 6-4, 230 pounds who can run a 4.3, easy, who can jump a 46, easy. That's special."

The only downside to Bailey is a torn ACL which caused him most of the 2000 season. It is scary to think he may have lost some speed and still runs in the 4.3 range. A torn ACL usually requires two years for a full recovery, though Bailey had a strong junior season. Along with his five interceptions, he caused two fumbles and ranked fifth on the team with 65 tackles.

Bailey also suffered a torn ACL in his left leg as a high school senior. He has received medical clearance and been given a clean bill of health but the history is frightening. If he can overcome the injuries, which he has thus far through strong workout habits, he could be special for many years.

Bailey is in consideration during the first round of the Chargers Draft. The Chargers brass has quietly kept their sights on Bailey and his eye-popping performances, if he gets past both the NY Jets and the New England Patriots, he could very well become a Charger.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net or via the following link:: Denis Savage

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