Bolts Eye Replacement for Darren Sproles

The San Diego Chargers are apparently resigned to the fact they will lose RB Darren Sproles once free agency opens, as a source tells the team recently brought in a dynamic third-down back for a top-30 visit. Find out who this explosive runner is and learn how he can make San Diego's offense even more dangerous.

The Chargers recently met with Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, a source close to the situation tells Hunter has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles since they share similar builds (Hunter is 5-foot-7, 199 lbs.) and skill sets.

Hunter dominated the competition as a sophomore and senior (he struggled through an injury-riddled junior campaign in 2009). His career numbers include 708 rushing attempts for 4,181 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also added more than 500 receiving yards, proving he can move the chains in a variety of ways.

Despite all his collegiate success (he is a two-time consensus All-American), Hunter has heard questions about whether his slight frame can produce at the same level on Sundays. It is the same line of questioning that followed Sproles before the Chargers made him a fourth-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

RB Kendall Hunter
Brody Schmidt/AP
"When people tell me I can't do stuff like that, it makes me work even harder and motivates me," Hunter said.

Hunter lacks elite straight-line speed (his 40 times are consistently in the 4.5 range) but has exceptional quickness and evasiveness. He is not built to handle 240-plus carries in the NFL -- something he did twice at Oklahome State -- but he is an absolutely ideal fit in a multi-back system like San Diego's, which also features Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert.

In fact, Hunter shows better patience and acceleration than either of San Diego's incumbent ball carriers.

A concern with Hunter is he has small hands, which led to 10 fumbles during his college career. However, that can be corrected by coaching, and it's a safe bet the Chargers coaches will be harping on ball security every chance they get after seeing their players put the ball on the ground with disgusting regularity last season.

Hunter must protect the ball better and work on his blitz pick-up skills (something he showed he can do well during Senior Bowl week). If he can improve in those two areas, he will realize his dream of becoming an impact player in the NFL.

"It's crazy. It's a dream come true," Hunter said. "I thank the Lord for putting me in this position, because as a kid, all I dreamed about is being in this position right now. I've always set my goals high and I've fulfilled every one of them."

If the Chargers call Hunter's name this weekend -- likely with one of their four picks in the second and third rounds -- he can cross one more career goal off his list.

Do the Chargers need to draft a running back? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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