Be Careful What You Wish For

QB Eli Manning, who did not wish to play in San Diego, was selected by the Chargers with the first overall pick, and promptly traded to the New York Giants for QB Philip Rivers, who San Diego really wanted after all. <br><br> New York received a whining child who needed not only his big brother, but also mommy and daddy to help him face a hostile New York football crowd.

The Chargers received a grown man who was obviously much more prepared than Manning to accept the cards he has been dealt.

What Manning received in the deal is not certain, but if the reaction of the fans of his new team to the trade was any indication, he is already in way over his head.

The New York Media has often been described as a microscope. This is an understatement.

Picture an enormous magnifying glass lying in wait for ants. Here comes a Gi-ant... ant.

Much has been made of the recent attempts by San Diego's football team to secure a franchise quarterback in the national media. The 2001 draft saw the Chargers trading out of the top spot in order to secure more players. This scenario has often been played in the public eye as a gun shy franchise trading away a future superstar of Jordanesque proportions in Michael Vick in order to avoid the risk of another Mega-bust sequel to the Ryan Leaf fiasco. It continues to this day, long since Leaf has blown away, and will likely haunt the Charger franchise until an even bigger bust appears. Did I actually write that?

The similarities of this situation to the 1998 Peyton Manning - Ryan Leaf decision don't end there, either. Recall that Eli's big brother went to a team with little talent and eventually succeeded, yet Leaf went to a team with a solid defense and largely perceived to be in a down year. Leaf promptly screwed the pooch while under the tutelage of "renowned offensive guru" Kevin Gilbride. Oh, and best of luck to you and your new quarterback coach, Elisha.

This perception is brought to you by your local sports columnist, who loves a good story as much as he loves a good horse in the first... and he is more than willing to beat either one of them long after they are dead.

Round One

Picks 1 and then 4;
QB Philip Rivers, North Carolina State
6-5, 229, 5.05e

The Chargers receive the Giants first and fifth round picks next year as part of a package that included this year's third round choice, K Nate Kaeding.

This could amount to a free pass even if QB Phil Rivers never pans out, because the Giants might just end up placing the Chargers right back in the top of the draft if they decide to play their coveted rookie right from the start.

Rivers went directly to the top of the Charger draft board during Senior Bowl week when he impressed the Charger coaches with his ability to learn the playbook and his dominating performance in the game itself, winning the MVP award.

Odds are good that this pick will pan out, as Rivers, a coach's son, could develop as quickly as the Jets' Chad Pennington, or the Patriots' Tom Brady, two QBs Rivers has often been compared to. The comparisons are valid, as Rivers comes into the NFL with a similar skill set to Pennington, previously a first rounder.

He has also drawn comparisons to Bernie Kosar for his unusual delivery, and even to Joe Montana for his demeanor under pressure and the way he calmly makes his reads.

Hopefully his offensive line won't get him killed before he can establish himself as a winner in San Diego.

Round Two
Pick 35;
DT/DE Igor Olshansky, Oregon
6-5, 315, 4.97

Shifting to a 3-4 defense calls for a rebuilt front seven and the line specifically, as the Chargers recently jettisoned everyone who could pressure a QB during the offseason. No better place the start than with Nose Tackle, or the "Monster Man" position, and a man named Igor seems a perfect fit.

Igor (I can't wait to get a jersey with IGOR on it) could actually start anywhere along the 3 man line, and this versatility is crucial to a defense still trying to put all the pieces together in terms of personnel depth.

Jamal Williams is currently the man in the middle, but Igor's ability to line up either side of him, and also provide a second NT on the depth chart paves a much easier road to rebuilding the line, and obviously had an effect on the team's opportunity to focus on Defense during day two of the draft. More on that later.

Round Three
Pick 65;
K Nate Kaeding, Iowa
6-0, 187, 4.85e
A kicker!!! Are you kidding me???

Why this early? I'll tell you why... Once upon a time, this team wanted to play Martyball. Martyball, in its original "pure" form featured a fundamentally strong, and disciplined team employing a power running game in order to control the ball and the clock, aggressive defense forcing mistakes and turnovers, and standout special teams play that would often made the difference in a close low scoring game. You wouldn't recognize Martyball now, but this was the original intention.

Low scoring games mean that points are at a premium. A reliable kicker could get a solid defensive team with a strong running game several extra wins during the course of a season. That can be a huge difference maker. Kaeding is considered hands down to be the best young kicker in the country, and since the Giants were kind enough to supply the Chargers with the extra third round pick, why not lock him up right now?

Pick 66;
C/OG Nick Hardwick, Purdue
6-4, 295, 5.1

An interior lineman!!! Are you kidding me???

With no starting offensive tackles to speak of, they grab a backup center in the third round... great. The braintrust must really love something about this guy to go out on a limb like this, so I am assuming it's a combination of raw talent, and the fact the this former walk on at Purdue has only played center for one season, yet managed to learn the O-line's most demanding position against Big 10 competition. Maybe enough to get high marks from NFL scouts and to be drafted on the first day by a team with far more pressing needs. Maybe, just maybe there is more to this player than jumps out on paper.

Round Four

Pick 98;
DE/OLB Shaun Phillips, Purdue
6-3, 255, 4.8

A tweener DE that fell out of day one and into a 3-4 defense and a perfect fit as an edge rushing OLB. Fourteen and a half sacks in 2003, and now he'll play in a scheme that suits him perfectly. Philips can go from a three point stance and back out to linebacker before the ball is snapped, allowing Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to go from 4-3 to 3-4 without substitutions. This creates havoc and havoc creates turnovers. Philips will likely start the year backing up both Steve Foley and Ben Leber.

Round Five

Pick 133;
DE Dave Ball, UCLA
6-5, 277, 5.07

Ball led the nation with sixteen and one half sacks in 2003, and yet he fell out of the first day because he projects as too small to play the run in a conventional 4-3 alignment. The Chargers will deploy Ball as rotational pass rush DE opposite Adrian Dingle or Igor Olshansky. The first two picks on day two combined for 31 sacks last season. The Bolts will find ways to get Phillips and Ball on the field.

Pick 154;
RB/KR Michael Turner, Northern Illinois
5-11, 237, 4.42

Michael "The Burner" Turner nearly carried NIU to an undefeated season last year. Breakaway threat Turner has the size to pound the ball as LaDainian Tomlinson's much needed backup, and is a starting quality RB (somewhere else) with his size speed package. Remember Marion Butts? I know you do. An outstanding day two pick.

Round Six

Pick 169;
WR/TE Ryan Krause, Nebraska-Omaha
6-2, 244, 4.62

Think of a Josh Norman with hands... He's big, he's a solid blocker, and he catches the ball. No, I'm not talking about Norman.

Round Seven

Pick 204;
NT/DT Ryon Bingham, Nebraska
6-3, 303, 5.09

A true Nose Tackle with no discernable rush ability, but he can occupy blockers and take a beating. Just what the job calls for.

Pick 209;
OG Shane Olivea, Ohio State
6-3, 302, 5.31

Tough, Nasty RG type who played RT in college and will move inside. A backup with a future at RG.

Pick 254;
OT Carlos Joseph, Miami
6-6, 345, 5.37

Finally an Offensive Tackle, but the OT is a slug. Joseph is an underachiever with first round size and ability who lacks the desire to work. Much better to take a guy like this at the end of the draft than second overall.

Gary Molyneux can be reached at

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