The Inside Track

The San Diego Chargers have made undrafted free agency their strength in recent years. They actively scout those they think will fall and end up unpicked in the draft. They have had several players in for visits that did not get drafted and have set their sights on adding 20-25 players in rookie free agency. A source has the Chargers close to signing a local product...

The Chargers set themselves up for undrafted free agency better than any other team. They continually scout the 7th round picks and are not shy about bringing them in for a visit. The reason is to get a leg up on securing them if they go undrafted.

A number of players dropped in the draft and can expect a call from the Chargers. What makes them so successful is their commitment to adding young players to their roster each year and rookie free agents know if they play well, they may get a chance to contribute and not sit idly by on the inactive list.

Another reason the Chargers do well is they are willing to pay the extra bit it may take to secure these players. Some teams dole out on $5,000 signing bonuses while the Chargers have been known to up that if they feel the risk is worth it.

Who is on the list? A number of players, and some surprises who the Chargers cannot shut the door on if they expect to be serious players.

The prelim list has the known players the Chargers have shown interest in. The droppers in the draft can be found after that.

Kaseem Osgood is another local product who watched the draft in San Diego with friends and was not rewarded. Slow 40 times at the combines turned everyone off of Osgoood. The wide receiver out of SDSU comes off a 108 catch season and is 6-5, 212 pounds.

At a private workout in San Diego he ran three 40-yard dashes, two of them in 4.38 and 4.37.

"The Chargers had me in 4.37 and Buffalo in 4.38," said Osgood. "I don't think the 40 has anything to do with football. It's just something to rank everybody."

Sources have the Chargers signing Osgood tomorrow. The Chargers appear to have the inside track on landing Antonio Gates, a basketball player out of Kent State who projects to tight end in the NFL. Cleveland is also in contention.

San Diego Chargers tight ends coach Tim Brewster said, "Antonio has a chance in the right situation to be a very good pro. What is critical to him, if he makes the commitment to football, he has to get with the right team and the right system that is going to utilize him as an athlete and not try to make him into a one-dimensional blocking tight end. That's not going to enhance his skills. The best thing this kid has going is his ability to be an athlete, run, catch, stretch the field and really bring a nice competitive nature to the team."

Seth Marler a kicker out of Tulane was in San Diego for a visit and the Chargers still have a need for a kicker who can consistently knock in field goals from 40 yards and beyond.

Chargers OL coach Hudson Houck worked out Phil Bogle from New Haven.

Bogle's estimated weight was 330 pounds, and we mean estimate because the meat scale they had to use only went to 325 pounds, so he literally tipped the scale. He ran a 5.19 in the 40, had 27-inch vertical against a wall, which we equate to a normal 30-inch vertical, benched 21 times, had an 8-foot-6 in the long jump and ran a 4.5 in the short shuttle.

Oddly enough it is the New Haven Chargers.

Houck was willing to fly cross-country to chat with the prospect.

"I wouldn't mind San Diego," a laughing Bogle stated.

Darrell Rideaux CB ran his 40s in 4.26 and 4.27, had a vertical jump of 38 inches and a long jump of 10-8 — and didn't get invited to the Combine!

Trojans coach Pete Carroll described Rideaux, a kick returner who was measured at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, as a carbon copy of Ray Mickens.

Leigh Bodden, 6-0, 184 pound cornerback who had a 4.60 forty is Duquesne University's all-time interception leader, 7 this season, 28 total, was named to the American Football Coaches Association Division I-AA All-America Team for the second consecutive season. He visited with the Chargers but with two cornerbacks being taken seems a long shot.

Local product Akbar Gbaja-Biamilla came in for a visit with San Diego brass. With a brother in the league the SDSU product would not mind staying home.

Safety Quinton Mikell visited the Chargers although his prospects of signing diminished with two safeties being drafted.

Same can be said for safety Calvin Carlyle who also visited San Diego.

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

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