Chargers See Talent at Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl week has basically come and gone for the collegiate football players in Mobile, Alabama wishing to showcase their football skills in front of the assembled masses of NFL coaches and personnel evaluators. Watching every movement, this is the beginning of a long journey, for some at the Senior Bowl, this will be their last opportunity to play organized ball.

With every turn of the head, a young aspiring college senior with hopes of catching the eye of a team takes in coaching suggestions from veteran NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer and the staff of the San Diego Chargers.

Schottenheimer and newly hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have spent a tremendous amount of time watching the defensive linemen, linebackers, quarterbacks, and wide receivers. According to a Chargers representative, Schottenheimer and Phillips share a common belief that the San Diego front seven needs some work. Personnel evaluators within the San Diego organization are in the belief the draft is deep at the defensive tackle and linebacker spots, interesting at the quarterback position, and strong at wide receiver.

"There may be a good number of defensive tackles here (Senior Bowl) that may have what it takes to play on Sunday's. We have some wide bodies here that have some ability to compete for roster spots," a Chargers personnel assistant said. "Another position of interest is at linebacker, especially at SAM and WIL, there are some talented kids that have tremendous athleticism here and we are getting a first-hand look at them."

The week past has provided Schottenheimer and San Diego coaches and scouts the opportunity to work closely with some of the premiere football talent which will be available in April. For a San Diego organization with numerous questions to answer, this past week could be viewed as the beginning of the re-tooling of a team that showed promise in spurts during the 2003 season.

"There really isn't much of a doubt that we have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and months. Our evaluation process has been long underway regarding our team and we are looking at the areas we believe we can grow upon heading into next season," a team source said. "In the perfect scenario, we would like to improve our depth on the roster, we need to get some help on both of the lines, linebacker, safety, and determine what direction we are ultimately going to go at quarterback.

"The wide receivers are also in question, we had a couple guys come on late in the season, but it never hurts to have a legitimate receiver to team with (David) Boston and whomever. When you are a 4-12 team, all areas need to be evaluated. We do not believe we are that far away from being a contender, we are being prudent."

Sitting with the first overall selection in the college player draft, which commences in April, the Chargers will have the opportunity to select a player that fills an immediate need on the roster. From quarterbacks to safeties, the San Diego organization is weary of making a mistake that could set the franchise back, with the selection.

"Having the first pick in the draft is far from being any kind of honor. It is what it is, basically you were the worst team, this is something this organization does not anticipate on happening again," the team source continued. "I can tell you we are far from even thinking what we will do with the pick. There are a number of enticing players at the top of this draft and we are going to investigate every potential avenue prior to draft day."

From Mobile, Alabama to San Diego, the fun has just begun in what should be an interesting off-season for the Chargers.


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