Top Ten Chargers of 2004
10. Mike Scifres - We'll have to play the field position game this year, so he'll need to be more consistent and have a nice year with both his length and his accuracy.
9. IGOR!!! - Will probably be looked at as a weak spot since he's a rookie. Needs to play good enough technique and get enough penetration to command some double teams. If he can do that, it will really help free up the linebackers.
8. Eric Parker - Probably the most consistent receiver when it comes to getting open. Needs to stay healthy and consistently beat one-on-one coverage until the opposition has to respect him. This team lacks people that scare defenses enough to take their full focus away from LT. EP is probably are best hope on the outside to really consistently make defenses pay for that.
7. Courtney Van Buren - Tackle is well documented as being paper-thin. At least need him to be solid at his spot and remain healthy. He's got the measurables to be dominant. But after the last two years of injuries to the OL, what this team really needs is steadiness.
6. Jamal Williams - our only guy who's really a true NT. Needs to stay healthy. If for no other reason to have someone who will command double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers.
5. Terrence Kiel - Needs to be all over the field making plays, both against the run and the pass. Needs to really assert his will on games. It should help that he'll be playing strong safety and won't have to make the defensive calls.
4. Donnie Edwards - The defense needs playmakers and leaders. That fits Edwards to a 'T'. Edwards will be undersized in the middle, but should also be put in positions to make a lot of plays. The big key is that he'll need to make an impact against the run (and not just make tackles after the back is 5 yards down the field). I love the fact that he'll be more in the middle of the field on passing downs too... taking advantage of his coverage skills where his playmaking ability really shines. This team needs some people to cause more turnovers.
3. Antonio Gates - Needs to provide the QB with a reliable option that will make plays. He's the only guy I really see opposing defenses really being afraid of to the point where they might double team him and take some pressure off of LT. This guy is just oozing with promise. Look at how much emphasis during the draft there is on getting guys with a lot of playing experience. And for Gates to come in cold turkey last year and earn a starting role over experienced professionals is simply amazing. Not only that but he was effective in games! Think all of the TEs who are studs in college and never make a dent in the pros. The sky is the limit for him. This year, teams won't be underestimating him though.
2. Randall Godfrey - This team was horrible against the run last year. And going to the 3-4, while it should help the pass rush, probably won't help the run D that much especially when the D line is relying on an undersized NT and a rookie DE. Godfrey will have to come up BIG.
1. Philip Rivers - When the game starts to slow down for him to the point where he can limit the turnovers... that'll be when this team takes off... We all saw what a difference Pennington makes for the Jets. And he's a lot like Rivers. Actually doesn't have as good of an arm as Rivers, but doesn't turn the ball over and is very accurate.
If you are interested in submitting your top ten, email Denis Savage at Denis@SanDiegoSports.net. Please be sure to include your name and be as detailed as possible. Entries that have merit will appear in a future edition of the Top Ten Chargers of 2004.