2010 Revisited: Was Ryno Right Pick?

The Chargers ran for just 1,461 yards in 2012, the team's second-lowest output since 2000, the year before San Diego drafted LaDainian Tomlinson. Is the 2010 trade-up for Ryan Mathews to blame for these middling stats? We take a look back at the 2010 draft class and see where Mathews stacks up against the rest of the running backs.

With Ryan Mathews failing to live up to the hype in his three-year career, questions are starting to arise as whether the team should part ways with the former first-round pick. Many Chargers fans are calling Mathews a bust, but how does he compare to his fellow classmates from 2010? Were the Chargers right to draft Mathews?

Some back-story: San Diego entered the 2010 season with a backfield sans LaDainian Tomlinson for the first time in nine years. How does a team replace a future Hall of Famer? The answer: Not with just Darren Sproles and second-year converted fullback Mike Tolbert.

The Chargers entered the draft with the No. 28 pick, knowing they would most likely have to trade up in order to have their choice of running backs. The team executed a trade with the Miami Dolphins, giving up the No. 28 overall pick, their second- and fourth-round picks and LB Tim Dobbins in return for the No. 12 overall pick, a fourth-round pick (Darrell Stuckey) and a sixth-round selection.

We've ranked the top five running backs from the class of 2010.

5. No. 30 overall pick, Jahvid Best -- Detroit Lions

Best is a bust -- but it's not his fault. The Lions hoped the California halfback would become the franchise back of the future and for a brief moment he appeared to be that guy. But those dreams were dealt a hefty blow in similar fashion to Best's head. Unfortunately, Best sustained too many concussions and now suffers from post-concussion syndromes that forced him to sit out the entire 2012 season. Best was explosive when healthy, but now possibly facing retirement, it's safe to say Best's short-lived NFL career is out the doors.

4. No. 112 overall pick, Joe McKnight -- New York Jets

The first standout running back to come out of USC since Reggie Bush never got the opportunity to play much offense for the Jets with the likes of Shonn Greene and Tomlinson in front of him on the depth chart. However, McKnight found his role returning kickoffs. He has topped 1,000 return yards in each of the last two seasons, including two touchdowns. Rex Ryan even tried to play McKnight at cornerback this year. However, McKnight still wants to be used primarily as a running back and may need to find work elsewhere if that is to happen.

3. No. 188 overall pick, Jonathan Dwyer -- Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have proven time and again they know how to pick running backs. Dwyer was a steal in the sixth round and has spent his career so far as the backup to Rashard Mendenhall. Dwyer got his biggest opportunity this season, running for 623 yards in 13 games. With Mendenhall potentially leaving through free agency, Dwyer may have the opportunity to earn his sport as the Steelers' primary back.

2. No. 12 overall pick, Ryan Mathews -- San Diego Chargers

Ryan Mathews has been nothing more than a tease. There's no denying Mathews has shown flashes of greatness, including a 1,000-yard Pro Bowl season in 2011. But Mathews has been hurt far too often, missing 10 games in three seasons. Let's not forget about his fumbling issue. His 11 fumbles in 38 games resulted in Norv Turner benching Mathews midseason. Maybe he's running scared, maybe San Diego has put too much pressure on him by expecting Tomlinson-like numbers, or maybe he just wasn't ready. But after three years, Mathews' fate now rests in the hands of new GM Tom Telesco and the TBD head coach, who might not be so merciful as Smith and Turner once were.

1. No. 9 overall pick, C.J. Spiller -- Buffalo Bills

Spiller spent his first two years learning under Fred Jackson, who peaked at the wrong time for a guy like Spiller. The Clemson back, who might have been the Chargers' top choice, has played in all 16 games for two straight seasons. Finally getting his chance this year, he put up 1,244 yards with six TDs. He also contributed through the air with 459 receiving yards and two more scores. Spiller has had some ball security problems of his own, collecting six fumbles over three years, but he has only lost three of them. Spiller has only gotten better since 2010, and as of now, is the only running back out of his class that deserves the title of "franchise back."



Who should the Chargers have taken in 2010? Discuss in the message boards.




Brian Ducoffe is in his second year of covering San Diego sports. He has been previously published in University Link Magazine and wrote as an NBA columnist for Gacksports.com. Follow Brian on twitter @brianducoffe.


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