Chargers Draft Prospectus III

Sometimes a player comes along and it is obvious that a team covets him. The question remains, will that player fall to the pick of the team, or will the team consider trading up for that player? The San Diego Chargers have one such player that figures into the plans in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

Teams will often become enamored with a player through the offseason and it sways their thinking in the Draft. Come draft day, they make it their mission to get that player, especially when he is the top guy on their board. AJ Smith will say he has five guys that he would consider at that pick, but Marty Schottenheimer would beg to differ.

During the Senior Bowl, one thing was obvious to all that attended or watched the game. The Chargers Head Coach took an immediate liking to one player in particular. He even went so far as to consult him after several plays and spent significant time with him on the sidelines. That rapport is hard to find and a character base has already been established between coach and player.

The team needs help along the defensive line. They currently have just one nose tackle, Jamal Williams and Adrian Dingle and presumably Jason Fisk at ends. The benefit of moving to the 3-4 defense is the team can select someone who is tipping the scales at close to 300 pounds and still find a place for them on the line at end or tackle.

The player is Darnell Dockett, an extremely talented force with a nasty streak.

Darnell Dockett
Florida State
Defensive Tackle
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 297
Forty Time: 4.97
Bench (225): 26 reps
Bench (high): 390 Vertical Jump: 31
Broad Jump: 8-6/8-9
Body Fat: 14.7%

"Dockett is similar to many of his predecessors at Florida State; athletic, explosive yet undersized. He has also shown the characteristic underachievement several Nole linemen have displayed in the past. After the shadow of suspension loomed over his head this season, Dockett has seemingly turned it around and is realizing the potential Seminole coaches placed on him." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

It has been talked about that Dockett will move to end at the next level. He has gained some weight since his playing days, but his ability to rush the passer is coveted by many. His one problem is catching the QB when he flushes the pocket.

He also has an uncanny ability to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He recorded 65 stops behind the line of scrimmage in his career, shattering the old school career record of 44 tackles for losses by Ron Simmons (1977-80). He broke the record while he was a junior. In total, Dockett tallied 247 tackles with 10.5 quarterback sacks over his career.

The biggest knock on Dockett is his questionable past. Tallahassee police alleged Dockett received $1,000 worth of sports apparel for about $100, a 90 percent discount. He was suspended for the Sugar Bowl last season once FSU learned of the investigation and was later charged. He was assigned community service after reaching a plea agreement.

Still many point to that as a growing stage for the young defensive lineman. Since then he upped his play and began to show the same fervor that made him a freshman phenom at FSU.

The most ironic comment from Dockett came during Senior Bowl week. During that time he lost his jersey while doing drills.

''I feel like the Hulk,'' Dockett said. "I hope I don't take it for granted and come out here each day to get better. I'm stronger and more powerful. I see guys blocking me one-on-one and they're just struggling with it.''

Marty Schottenheimer has an obvious rapport with the young man. That alone speaks volumes as the debate is still on to whether he or AJ Smith runs the draft room. Marty is continuing to surround himself with "his" players and Dockett is definitely one of those.

Considering the woes the Chargers have displayed at containing the run over the last two years, Dockett would be a welcome addition. Anytime a player can wreak as much havoc as Dockett has from the defensive tackle spot and that ability can be harnessed, getting him in the second round could be a coup.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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