Three Items to Cross Off the To-Do List

Thanks to league-wide labor uncertainty, the Chargers don't even know what all their needs are heading into next season. There are, however, three positions GM A.J. Smith should not feel compelled to address -- and, no, we are not talking specialists.

Fullback: Jacob Hester and Mike Tolbert

Hester and Tolbert make Norv Turner's job much easier when it comes time to set the final 53-man roster. Their ability to play fullback and halfback, as well as help out on special teams, allows Turner to essentially fill four needs with just two players.

Both players are coming off career years in 2010. Tolbert split halfback duties with rookie Ryan Mathews and responded with 735 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Tolbert averaged 4.0 ypc thanks in large part to the progress Hester made as a lead blocker. Hester showed improved strength and better decision-making.

Hester is under contract for another season. Tolbert figures to be an exclusive-rights free agent regardless of what form the new CBA takes, giving the Chargers no reason to address the fullback position this offseason.

Tight End: Antonio Gates, Kris Wilson, Kory Sperry

TE Kris Wilson
Ronald Martinez/Getty
Randy McMichael (20 receptions, 221 yards and two TDs in 2010) will become an unrestricted free agent, but even if he moves on, the cupboards are still well stocked. Gates is still the best in the business when healthy, as he proved last year by posting 50 catches and 10 touchdowns in just 10 games.

Wilson had a down year as a receiver but still performed well as a blocker and on special teams. If he can bounce back and show better hands, he is a capable backup tight end. Behind him is Sperry, an inexperienced by explosive pass-catcher. He saw snippets of playing time late in the season and averaged more than 18 yards on four receptions; if he learns how to read defenses and better his blocking, he could be a weapon.

The Chargers may add another tight end if the price is right, just as some added insurance behind the injury-prone Gates. But if GM A.J. Smith decides to stand pat, there is still more than enough talent at this spot to get the job done.

Cornerback: Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, Donald Strickland, Steve Gregory

Jammer and Cason make an elite starting duo. Jammer, 32, must prove he can still get it done at his age and Cason must show he is not a one-year wonder, but all in all the Chargers are very comfortable putting both of these players on an island.

Strickland started the season strong before suffering a hip injury and ceding his spot as the nickel back to Dante Hughes. Hughes is an unrestricted free agent who has a good shot at returning, but even if he departs, a healthy Strickland offers good depth. There is also a chance Gregory takes over the nickel back position if Bob Sanders can stay healthy and win the starting job at strong safety.

The Chargers will likely add a cornerback on the third day of the draft, but in all likelihood, all the cornerbacks who will contribute to the defense in 2011 are already on the roster.

Where do the Chargers have the most depth? Talk about it in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His work has been published by NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.

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