Chargers positional breakdown

Now that the head coaching situation has been settled, the Chargers can focus on addressing their offseason personnel needs. The following is a positional breakdown of all San Diego's needs.

Quarterback: The team is all set here. Philip Rivers earned a Pro Bowl invite in his first year as a starter. Billy Volek and Charlie Whitehurst will battle for the No. 2 spot.

Running Back: LaDainian Tomlinson is durable and in his prime. Michael Turner may depart as a restricted free agent, but the combo of Andrew Pinnock and Darren Sproles is capable of picking up the slack. Lorenzo Neal is a battering ram who is money in short yardage.

Wide Receiver: Help in needed in a bad way. Keenan McCardell is out and Eric Parker is unspectacular. Vincent Jackson is a complete player with a high ceiling, but he needs help. The Chargers need someone who can create separation and gain yards after the catch.

Offensive Line: The line would have been in great shape if Kris Dielman was retained. Keeping this group intact is vital as it has a stellar chemistry. They development of young talent like Jeromey Clary and Scott Mruczkowski will dictate draft-day needs now that Dielman has essentially moved on.

Tight End: Antonio Gates is the league's best receiving tight end and there may be no blocker better than Brandon Manumaleuna. The loss of Aaron Shea is a hit but they can bounce back from it.

Defensive Line: The starting three is powerful and dynamic. The reserves are steady but unremarkable, although Derreck Robinson could develop into a player. The team will look to draft at least one defensive lineman with ample size and a quick first step.

Inside Linebacker: This will be the area of greatest turnover. Donnie Edwards is gone and Randall Godfrey has a foot and a half out the door, seeking a job elsewhere. Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm and Tim Dobbins are ready for expanded roles, but another body could be added as both incumbent starters depart.

Outside Linebacker: This position is loaded even with the loss of Steve Foley. Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips should combine for more than 30 sacks if both stay healthy. A healthy Marques Harris will round out the group quite nicely. Carlos Polk is a free agent and may not return.

Cornerback: Quentin Jammer had his best year, although it ended poorly. Drayton Florence and Antonio Cromartie will compete to start opposite Jammer, with Florence holding an edge following a strong season. A legitimate dime-back is missing in action.

Safety: After making safeties the marquee signings of consecutive offseasons, it is hard to fathom this is still a need. Marlon McCree is solid at free safety and depth is fine, too. Terrence Kiel failed to author any game-changing plays, was in trouble with the law and was released.

Special Teams: Mike Scifres is a weapon who will be Pro Bowl-bound soon. His long snapper, David Binn, is a model of consistency. Nate Kaeding had a Pro Bowl season but his postseason efforts are making Mike Vanderjagt look clutch. Sproles' return will add an explosive element that was missing in 2006.


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