Top ten Chargers of 2004
10.) Quentin Jammer- Without a doubt when San Diego drafted him in 2002, he was the most feared DB in all of college football. He's made a lot of progress since his arrival in San Diego, but he needs to take it to another level and remind everybody in the league why he was drafted as high as he was a couple of years ago.
9.) Igor Olshansky- This guy's potential is something to look for. I don't think the Jamal Williams/Jason Fisk tandem is the answer. Williams has yet to prove he can last an entire season, and Fisk is just an average player at best. So Igor's contributions are definitely going to be a factor this year on the defensive line.
8.) Toniu Fonoti- When he wants to play, this guy would be an ideal person you would want on the line. His work ethic and commitment to the team are without a doubt an issue. This is without question a "make or break" year for this guy.
7.) Antonio Gates- With the shaky receiving corp. we are definitely going to need for a TE to step up and contribute. Can Gates be the standout from the group? If not, putting the receiving load on the injury prone couple of Kevin Dyson and Eric Parker is not something I'm looking forward to seeing in the upcoming season.
6.) Tim Dwight- This guy may not be the most talented guy on the receiving corps, however, he makes that up with his speed and hustle. He'll play his heart out for you, but can he stay away from injuries? Someone will go down this year the question is who will it be Dyson, Caldwell or this guy? If he can stay healthy he can be the difference from the 1st pick in the draft next year to a playoff berth this year.
5.) Nick Hardwick-With the whole Jason Ball fiasco, it looks as if Hardwick is going to have to be "the man" in front of the quarterback. Can he adjust to the speed of the NFL? It's asking a lot from a rookie but unless the Jason Ball situation gets worked out via trade or San Diego's agreement to pony up the greenbacks to Ball, Hardwick's success of failure is going to be huge to the offensive line and the continuing success of L.T.
4.) Jamar Fletcher- He was acquired in the David Boston trade in the off-season, and in quiet off-season of free agent acquisitions by San Diego, his arrival is arguably the best addition to the Chargers this year. He gives San Diego a little more insurance this year, be it if someone gets hurt or if Sammy Davis endures a "sophomore slump". He is a solid player, so his contributions as a starter, nickel back, or mentor to the younger players in the secondary will be very welcomed.
3.) Nate Kaeding- I've still been scratching my head trying to figure out why San Diego let John Carney leave. He is an instant upgrade from the incumbent Steve Christie. Had we had Kaeding last year he probably would have added a couple of W's to the record last year. Hopefully Kaeding's arrival will help us forget about Carney's departure.
2.) Reche Caldwell- I've sometimes wondered if this guy could even catch a beach ball. What's stopping him from unleashing his potential? Where's the player from Florida we drafted? He better prove me wrong this year, if not it's going to be another Bryan Still situation all over again.
1.) Drew Brees- Yes, with the arrival of Philip Rivers, it seems to be only a matter of time before Brees becomes an ex-Charger. Rivers, however, won't be ready this year giving Brees one last chance to redeem himself. His contract is going to be up soon, but if he steps it up this year and proves to people that he's not the scrub everyone has made him out to be, then possibly we could trade him to another team midseason (letting Flutie take over) and squeeze a draft pick or another player in return. This would give another team the chance to talk contract extension with him, avoiding a bidding war with another team next off-season. It would be a win-win situation for San Diego, that's if another party would be interested in his services.
If you are interested in submitting your top ten, email Denis Savage at Denis@SanDiegoSports.net. Please be sure to include your full name and be as detailed as possible. Entries that have merit will appear in a future edition of the Top Ten Chargers of 2004.