Chargers Draft Prospectus: Final Ediiton

The first pick is almost upon us and there is no clear choice. The board before the San Diego Chargers pick appears to be set even after the Bears-Jets trade of yesterday. With that in mind the Chargers have set themselves up to take the number one rated prospect at his respective position.

Eric Steinbach, an offensive guard out of Iowa looks like he will be on the board at pick 15. With Vaughn Parker and Damion McIntosh not certain to be back next season, the Chargers may look at Steinbach to eventually fill that role. He would be an immediate starter at guard this year and move outside next season. The versatility he brings to the table will mean holes for LaDainian Tomlinson.

Former tight end who shifted to the offensive line as a sophomore, establishing himself as one of the premier drive blockers in college the last two years. Four year starter used at both guard positions. All-Conference and All-America selection as a senior, also being named Big 10 Offensive Lineman of the Year. First team All-League choice as a junior. Used extensively and successfully at left tackle during the Senior Bowl. An integral member of the Hawkeyes' line for a team which was first in the league (sixth nationally) in scoring offense (38.9 ppg), second in the Big Ten (13th nationally) in rushing offense (222.1 ypg) and fourth in the conference (No. 13 nationally) in total offense (432.9 ypg) during his senior campaign.

When asked about the possible switch to tackle?

"It definitely helps to have versatility," Steinbach said. "The most difficult adjustment is staying back on pass rushers. When I played left guard, I was able to attack the guy and really kind of lean into him and be more aggressive. As a tackle you have to really set back, because if you lean, you're on a large island, and if he gets you, you're done.

"I've been telling teams I can also play center. I'm more comfortable at guard, but after playing tackle all week in the Senior Bowl, I think if I put in a lot of practice and got coached the right way, it could be the position for me in the future."

Eric Steinbach
Offensive Guard/Tackle
Ht: 6-6 Wt: 280
Body Fat: 15.5%
40 Times: 4.95/4.84
Vertical Jump: 36"
Broad Jump: 9' 7.5"
Three Cone Drill: 7.38/7.34
Bench Press: 30 reps

"Smart, heady lineman with a tremendous feel for his position. Quick off the snap of the ball, explodes into his blocks and plays with a nasty attitude. Uses angles and body positioning to wall off defenders, fights with his hands and strong in his upper body. Jolts defenders and easily controls them at the point of attack. Plays with balance, effective in space and works well with linemates. Big, and offers growth potential. May not be an immediate starter at left tackle but his versatility to play either guard positions and develop into a blind side protector is a major plus. Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Steinbach is a good straight-line athlete who is very light on his feet, shows the quickness and agility to block on the second level and gain position on the defender and gets off the ball well and into blocking position, using his speed to mirror his opponent and sustain while taking proper angles.

He locates and adjusts to the linebackers quickly while on the move, keeping his feet underneath him as he kick slides. He screens off the defenders upfield and has the smooth, fluid movements needed to set up in pass protection, and keeps his hands inside to contain the pass rusher's moves, delivering a solid jolt to turn and control on run blocks.

Steinbach sustains his blocks long enough for the runner to get through the holes and is very aware vs. stunts, showing a good understanding of angles and positioning.

"Actually, I was recruited as a defensive end, but tight end was my first position," Steinbach said. "I liked the whole idea of the stand-up tight end, and I thought it would be a good position for the NFL.

"But they started moving the big tight ends to the offensive line, and that's how I ended up at guard. I have no regrets about the move I've made. The first time I was asked to move to the line, I said no, but the second time, I was a redshirt freshman, and I was given a chance to start."

"I liked the whole idea of the stand-up tight end, and I thought it would be a good position for the NFL," Steinbach said. "But when our head coach got to Iowa, his whole thing was taking big tight ends and moving them to offensive line.

"In the fall of 1999, we had three senior tight ends in front of me. We had a lack of depth on the offensive line. He said, ‘If you move, you're going right to the two-deep, and you have a chance to start.'"

One concern with Steinbach regards his injury history.

Steinbach started nine of 12 contests at right guard as a junior but missed time because of an injury to his ankle and a dislocated left elbow. He was injury prone during sophomore season as well and had to have knee surgery after having started final four games of the 1999 campaign and redshirting in 1998.

Steinbach has great athletic ability but his body has already shown that it might not be able to stand up to the punishment on the offensive line. Still, his workout numbers are phenomenal and his versatility to play outside or inside along the line, make him one of the top linemen available in this draft.

The Chargers were among the many surprised at his versatility and in awe at his performance during Senior Bowl week. They spoke with him at the combines and then followed that up with a visit to his on campus workout in March. The like what they see and could make him their first round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. The value may be just too good to pass up.

Special thanks to Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Preview who contributed to this report.

Denis Savage can be reached at or via the following link: Denis Savage

Got something to say? Talk about it on the Chargers Message Boards

SD Super Chargers Top Stories