Grass not as green for future Chargers

The San Diego Chargers made their living off undrafted free agents over the past three years. They have found gems – players that are regular contributors in the lineup and some are arguably the best at their respective position with the team. This year, the undrafted are in for a rude awakening.

Undrafted free agents (UDFA) have literally lined up outside Chargers Park for a shot at getting a taste of the cotton candy sold at the County Fair. They know the place to go is San Diego. The landscape, however, may be changing.

With eleven picks in the 2004 NFL draft, spots have been severely limited. Certainly one or two players will shine, but which ones?

The team has brought in a slew of wide receivers in an effort to strike gold. Two current wideouts in the top five are former undrafted free agents, Kassim Osgood and Eric Parker. It would seem that one, possibly two if they find a returner, will make the squad. Any others with promise could land on the expanded practice squad.

Offensive line is a spot that has little known depth, although summer signees have bolstered this area some. With only a few undrafted lineman set to move through training camp, a spark of ability may keep them in San Diego.

The backfield hardly has any room for the veterans much less the rookies. Beyond Michael Turner, a fifth round draft pick, there will be plenty of cuts from this group. A fullback may benefit by making the practice squad.

The team brought in four linebackers now that the team has gone 3-4. But with so many already on the roster, the practice squad may be all that is left. Unless someone really shows the team something this season, the linebackers may be on the outside looking in.

In the secondary things are even tougher to find a job. The team boasts four corners that were taken in the top two rounds of the draft. The safeties are where a cut may come and only one safety from free agency was brought in and he may benefit. Of course if a current corner makes the switch to safety, the momentum could switch.

Along the defensive line there may be one spot to catch on. That is tenuous at best and it is more likely that they will give the benefit of the doubt to their many picks.

In years past undrafted players were sure bets to make the team. The team lacked significant depth and although the team is young, they seem to be finally turning the corner. It will be hard for more than three players among the undrafted to make the team. They will have to outperform veterans who know the nuances of a Charger camp and they must keep the pressure on throughout the season.

The days of seeing a Phil Bogle may be gone. If a few do make the team, they will be depth players with a shot at special teams. It is in no way a knock on the potential of any of these players. The truth just happens to be the players in front of them are better than in years past.

Don't look for any immediate impact players from this group.


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