Chargers frequently mine Senior Bowl gold

Every year, teams flock to Mobile to see the best Senior Prospects. The Chargers are no different. Last year, we saw Philip Rivers go from a late first round pick to the 4th pick overall with a dominant performance. He was not the only Charger draft pick who played last January 24th.

2004
#17 - Philip Rivers (South), 1st round pick
#95 – Nate Kaeding (North), 3rd round pick
#63 – Nick Hardwick (North), 3rd round pick
#15 – Shaun Phillips (North), 4th round pick
#43 – Dave Ball (South), 5th round pick
#32 – Michael Turner (North), 5th round pick
#71 – Shane Olivea (North), 7th round pick

Kaeding, Hardwick, Phillips, and Olivea all were major contributors. Rivers, Ball, and Turner look like players with a lot of upside. A year before, the Chargers top two picks (Sammy Davis and Drayton Florence) starred for the South. Let's not forget, the most important Charger, LaDainian Tomlinson, used the Senior Bowl as a showcase to show that he wasn't the slow, one dimensional back that some were claiming him to be.

Despite having a great year, there are legitimate needs for this team. On defense, the pass rush ranks among the weakest in the league with needs at LDE and the OLB position. Jerry Wilson did a commendable job for a veteran journeyman, but FS is a huge need. On offense, the Chargers lack depth on the OL, especially OT where Roman Oben is long in the tooth. The other positions don't look much better behind the starters. While the Chargers have serviceable WR's, the lack of size, durability, and age is a concern.

Some players that stood out:

Matt Roth, DE/LB, Iowa

There is no way he will be able to play DE in a 3-4, but he is a tremendous pass rusher who gets a good burst off the ball. He is pretty quick and uses leverage to his advantage. However, the thing that differentiates him is "Junior Seau" type intensity and a non stop motor. He also is the most technically adept pass rusher of the group and that stood out as well. As a 3-4 OLB, Matt Roth has some questions with his ability to drop in coverage because he has been a DE. He is arguably the best pass rusher in this class and it showed.

Bill Swancutt, DE, Oregon State

While Roth was disrupting on the strongside of the field, Florida State's Ray Willis was getting "schooled" on the weakside. Swancutt is not the biggest or fastest player on the field, but the guy may be one of the most productive players. I do not believe he is a premium pick, but I do believe he is going to be a very useful situational rusher in this league in the Dave Ball mold.

Marcus Spears, DE, LSU

A possibility in the first round, Spears is a tweener DE/DT who happens to be a great fit for the 3-4 LDE position. Stout against the run, Spears is also quick and agile. He has good quickness and understands how to play the game. He does not have the speed you look for in a traditional 4-3 DE and probably will never be a sack leader, but he could upgrade the LDE position quite a bit. He has stretches where he doesn't make a lot of plays, but for the most part, Marcus Spears is a consistent playmaker. In many ways, he is a poor man's Kevin Williams (DT, Vikings).

Kirk Morrison, LB, San Diego State

Everyone says he's too small and not fast enough, but the guy makes a ton of plays and is one of the more instinctive players at his position. In many ways, he is the anti Derrick Johnson (LB, Texas). He might not have the speed to recover from bad reads and poor angles, but the guy doesn't take many false steps and is a very good tackler. He is not an all pro caliber player, but he should be a productive ILB in a 3-4 or a good 4-3 weakside LB.

Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington

All week, we hear how Barnes was a dominant, nasty presence. We've seen Richmond Webb, Willie Roaf, and Levi Jones use the Senior Bowl to showcase their skills to the point where they went from late first rounders to top 10 picks. Barnes displayed an awful lot of size and athleticism. He was dominant for most of the game, but he did make a couple of mental mistakes. George Gause (DE, South Carolina) beat him for a sack and DeMarcus Ware (DE, Troy) used his quickness to beat him off the ball a couple of times.

Michael Roos, OT, Eastern Washington

The small college prospect did not embarrass himself against Marcus Spears (who dominated Vandy OT Justin Geisinger). He has size and good athleticism. He can mirror and slide. He appears to have very good range as a pass blocker and a little bit of nastiness as a run blocker, though he needs to develop his strength and technique in this area. With good coaching, he could develop into a LT.

Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma

He is undersized and people question his long speed, but he runs great routes with good hands and tremendous quickness. I expect him to have a Deion Branch (WR, New England) impact in this league, though I do not believe his skill set complements the Chargers current set of WR's. He probably will not be available with the Chargers second first round pick.

Jamaal Brimmer, S, UNLV

Some are suggesting that he had a tough week of practice, but this kid can flat out play. His speed is a liability and he is not a FS. His cover skills will always leave a little to be desired, but he is a very solid in the box safety who is also an effective blitzer and a sure tackler.


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