More Targets for Rivers Could be Coming

Not too many teams can hang with the Chargers when it's time to play pitch-and-catch. In Philip Rivers, they have an elite NFL quarterback, one who threw for the 10th highest number of yards in a season last year in NFL history.

And at first glance, it doesn't seem Rivers is left wanting for targets. Not when Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates are among his teammates.

But the Chargers could dip into the draft and come away with another player for Rivers to aim for.


Maybe. But dig a bit deeper and it's possible the Chargers add to the position.

There's Vincent Jackson, and few can hang with him. His size, speed and leaping ability makes Rivers' eyes light up when he takes off downfield. Unlike last year, Jackson is expected to play the full season. Although with him being declared a franchise player, one can't say for certain - with the labor deal still up in the air - just what that means for Jackson and the Chargers.

But let's figure that Jackson is back, and that is a big plum for the Chargers. He was only productive for three games last year because of injuries, suspensions and contract disputes. The importance of a full season of having Jackson is hard to overstate.

Opposite Jackson is Patrick Crayton, and the Chargers are thrilled about that. Crayton came over in a trade with the Cowboys and supplied a great boost to the receiving corps. His impact would have grown save a wrist injury that derailed the second half of his season.

WR Malcom Floyd
Harry How/Getty
Malcom Floyd is a nice No. 3 receiver and he could fill that role again. But as a pending free agent - whatever that means these days - it's hard to write him in with anything but a pencil. The Chargers cherish Floyd's work ethic and his play-making ability - when he's on the field. Floyd's playing time, it seems, is often compromised by his health.

Behind Floyd is Buster Davis and you can fill in your own punch line for this former first-round pick, one of the real stinkers of general manager A.J. Smith's tenure. Each year one thinks the Chargers' patience has expired on this oft-injured, seldom-consistent, pass-catcher, yet the Chargers bring him back for another season.

Plus, the Chargers have already cut ties with Legedu Naanee, another disappointing Smith choice.

So just maybe the Chargers burn one of their five picks in the opening 89 selections - their first is at No. 18 -- on someone with some reliable mitts.

Smith could go with another A.J. - A.J. Green of Georgia. He is the top dog at his position, but figures to likely go in the first 10 picks. We're not sure Smith wants to spend what it would take to move up and snag Green - although it would be quite a pick.

After Green, it's clear the draft isn't loaded with wideouts - much like last year when but two were taken in the first round. In 2009, six came off the board in the first round.

Alabama's Julio Jones might tempt the Chargers. There are some concerns about his hands and ability to make the easy catches as well as the difficult ones. But at 6-4, 210 pounds, he would give Rivers another big target - something the Chargers like in their receivers.

Keep an eye on Torrey Smith of Maryland. He is more of a speed guy than a bruiser and where he might fit in well with the Chargers is on special teams. The Chargers will be in the market for a punt and kickoff returner with Darren Sproles not expected back. Cornerback Antoine Cason proved he could return punts last year, but the Chargers aren't crazy about putting a starting cornerback at a spot where he could take such punishment.

If A.J. Smith goes with Torrey Smith, he could address two needs with one player.

Pittsburgh's Jonathan Baldwin is known to have caught the Chargers' eye. He's a thumper at 6-5, 225 pounds and would be a force in the red zone. That is usually Gates' domain, but with the chronic foot problems Gates can't shake, Baldwin would be a nice second option if Gates isn't fit.

One more to consider is San Diego State's Vincent Brown. His route-running and attention to detail make him a potential Charger, and the Chargers haven't hid their interest in the local talent.

How do you rank San Diego's pre-draft needs? Discuss in the message boards.

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