Chargers Draft Rumblings

When one member among scouts, personnel evaluators, agents, and league personnel tells you about something, you take notice. When three members of the NFL's inner circle all tell you the same thing, you put it to print. Such is the case regarding the San Diego Chargers and rumblings regarding their first pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

"The Chargers are enamored with Philip Rivers," said one NFL scout. "They really love everything about the kid."

Well that isn't a surprise really. Since Rivers commanded a toned down Chargers offense at the Senior Bowl, it is easy to see why the Bolts like him.

In that game, Rivers went from underrated to a first round pick. He was 12-19 with two touchdowns and quarterbacked the South on all of their touchdown drives.

"You have to be careful you don't make mistakes," AJ Smith said. "You can get carried away with a player from an athletic point of view and lose sight what kind of football player he is." Which brings many talent evaluators back to the game tapes. Before gushing too much over what a prospect did, they will study again what he did between the sidelines. And his Senior Bowl stats were down from those he threw up his senior season at NC State. Rivers was the national leader in completion percentage (.720) and passing efficiency (170.49), finished the year ranked second nationally in passing yards (4,491) and total offense (353.85/game), third in pass completions (348) and completions per game (26.77), sixth in passing TDs (34) and ninth in points responsible for (17.38).

Underrated prior to the Senior Bowl may have been an understatement. Rivers unorthodox delivery has been overblown.

"Some teams get carried away with what kind of player someone is and they end up being a very, very average player," Smith warns.

He has since been linked to the Dolphins (pre AJ Feeley), Packers and the Steelers, with the Chargers an unrealistic dream.

Yet, the Bolts have been quietly smitten with him. His command in the pocket, presence in the interview room and general leadership qualities have the Chargers brass bubbling.

"Rivers will be the most productive of the guys coming out this year at the quarterback position from the onset," said one AFC team representative. "Don't worry about how he throws the ball, he is mature, has a great sense for the game, and has had to improvise to get the job done."

There is a feeling that this is Marty Schottenheimer's guy. The fact that he can step right in and make a difference for a club as a rookie is a plus to the Bolts. With the coaching staff needing wins, the addition of Rivers may be welcome.

Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Preview has told us that the Chargers have followed Rivers around at the combines and "were really disappointed that Rivers did not work out."

"They really like him and trading down and acquiring him is definitely something they will consider."

Now they just have to get someone in the top ten to play nice and make a deal with them. Easy, right?

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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