Chargers use Senior Bowl to scout receivers

No Chargers need is more pronounced than that at wide receiver. Incumbent starters Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker failed to register a touchdown reception in 2006 and the production behind them was inconsistent. Hoping to remedy that, the Chargers spent Senior Bowl week scouting each of the top receivers down in Mobile, Ala.

The receiver San Diego scouts spent the most time with was Aundrae Allison, a 6-foot, 188 lb. prospect from East Carolina. A two-time Fred Biletnikoff Award candidate, Allison's senior season included 62 catches for 708 yards, all in just 10 games (he missed two contests with an ankle injury).

Allison is a quick receiver who runs precise routes and makes spectacular catches. However, he lacks the size the Chargers typically look at the position.

Another player the Chargers were looking at in Mobile was Rhema McKnight, a 6-foot-1, 212 lb. receiver from Notre Dame. McKnight finished his senior season with 67 catches for 907 yards and a school-record 15 touchdowns.

However, the Chargers hoped to see more productivity from McKnight than what he delivered down in Mobile.

"McKnight hasn't shown us anything," said one Chargers coach prior to Wednesday's practice.

McKnight did respond with one of his stronger performances, showing stellar fluidity and a willingness to fight for the ball against tight coverage. But, like Allison, he is not as tall as most of the receivers San Diego prefer to target.

The Chargers will inarguably select a receiver at some point in April's draft. Whichever player that is should have a chance to compete for a starting position as a rookie. The only current San Diego receiver assured of a staring spot in 2007 is Vincent Jackson.

Jackson, a second-round pick in 2005, broke out during his sophomore campaign, finishing with 453 receiving yards and six touchdowns. With an extra year of experience, he and Philip Rivers could blossom into quite the combination.

"Those two could be special," said one Chargers coach.

The team's plans to build around Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 241-lb. target with solid deep speed, may explain why it is looking at complimentary receivers who excel on underneath routes. Any draft-day targets will also have to possess big-play potential, something the Chargers were sorely missing in 2006.

Both Allison and McKnight fit that description. Other players who could be of interest include Jason Hill, Brandon Myles and Paul Williams, each of whom is a steady possession receiver and effective in the red zone.

Or the team could look at David Clowney, a speed-demon with questionable hands but who creates ample separation on a regular basis.

One way or another, San Diego will have to upgrade its receiver position. Rivers likes to throw to his outside targets far more than Drew Brees did during his time in San Diego, making the acquisition of more receiving help all the more vital.


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