Chargers focus turns to the draft

After admitting that there was no one in free agency that has caught their eye, the San Diego Chargers will turn towards the draft and the exhaustive work of preparing for the two-day even in April. Just don't expect to see Marty Schottenheimer at the LSU Pro Day or any Pro Day.

The head coach of the San Diego Chargers has his sights on the draft but that does not mean he will be traveling the countryside like many other coaches around the NFL.

An old school coach, Marty Schottenheimer is into the world of innovation. According to him, he can get the same work done at home as he can on the road – without the angst of travel that is.

"My time is better spent here than on the road," Schottenheimer said. "If they think there is something of significance that they think I should go out, I certainly will.

"I probably went to two or three (Pro Days) but that is about the extent of it. The availability of information and technology makes it just as easy to sit down and watch it here. The tape of the workout is available to you. I think it is important there is somebody there – that is how we wound up finding about Antonio Gates."

Although the head coach is not traveling the remote roads to find the needle in the haystack, the scouting department has been deployed. They were in multiple towns on Wednesday and will be split across the country for various Pro Days in the coming weeks.

If there is someone that the club deems worthy, they can fly the prospect in for a personal visit to the Chargers complex.

What direction will they look? Schottenheimer was kind enough to finally shed some light on the subject.

"We are solid at quarterback and tight end," he said. "I would like to think we are solid at the running back position.

"There is going to be an opportunity for us along the defensive line, similarly on the offensive line. Linebackers and secondary – we are going to look to good players in any of those areas. The two lines are the area we would look at."

With two first round picks in the upcoming draft, the Chargers feel they are in position to make the necessary upgrades at the key positions.

But they are not locked into picking defensive line or offensive line. The team may have several needs that will sway a pick here or there but the reigning AP Coach of the Year believes the Bolts will have a rare luxury, picking the best available player.

"We are in position right now to take the best player available" Schottenheimer began. "It has been a while since I have been able to say that."

Best player available is a tricky answer.

If they rate two players the same and they play two different positions, say defensive line and in the secondary, would the defensive lineman be weighted ahead of the secondary because the need is greater – yes. He was the best player available for the Chargers.

The key will be if there defensive line prospect is there but a wide receiver falls to them that they cannot pass on – what to do? Pick the wide receiver if Schottenheimer is to be believed.

And they won't reach for a returner in the draft – despite A.J. Smith calling it a priority in a press conference last week.

There is no doubt they want to retain a dynamic return specialist and it will likely be procured in the draft but it will not dictate the board.

"I don't think a return specialist would be designated as the primary objective," Schottenheimer admitted. ":If we can get a guy that can create field position for us and make a difference in the kicking game that it would be an important acquisition for us."

In each of the past two years, the Chargers have set out with a plan to improve their special teams play. It began with the selection of Mike Scifres in 2003 and continued when Nate Kaeding was picked in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Now they are looking to complete the unit with a player who can add a dimension of explosion to the return game, something that has been sorely lacking in each of the past three years.

Oddly enough, there was little talk of selecting a receiver in the draft. Perhaps they have someone in mind that can double as a returner. Or, perhaps, they are happy with the unit of Keenan McCardell, Reche Caldwell, Eric Parker and Kassim Osgood for another year.


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