Analysis: The best and worst of the ‘07 Bolts

Over the next few weeks, the San Diego Bolt Report will conduct a position-by-position breakdown of the Chargers' roster. Before that project gets underway, it is time for a quick positional analysis of the defending AFC West Champions. From the strongest area to the weakest and everything in between, here is how the 2007 Chargers stack up.

Strongest spot: Tight End

The Chargers have everything a team could want at this position. Antonio Gates is the best pass-catching tight end in the league, averaging 80 catches for 996 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last three years. Brandon Manumaleuna is a dominating blocker with soft hands, while Scott Chandler provides a big target over the middle. Additionally, Legedu Naanee should see some time at tight end.

Weakest link: Wide Receiver

There is a lot of talent at wide receiver but there are just as many question marks. Vincent Jackson will be the No. 1 receiver this season, but his breakout 2006 campaign featured just 27 catches for 453 yards. Eric Parker is a blue-collar overachiever who will always be a complementary target. First-round pick Craig Davis has plenty of upside, but the Chargers would have felt a lot better if Robert Meachem had fallen three more spots on draft day.

Deepest unit: Inside Linebacker

This also qualifies as the youngest position, but the talent here is too much to ignore. Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm will step in as first-time starters and should anchor the position for the next five years. If either of them falters, Tim Dobbins, Anthony Waters and Brandon Siler are all more than capable of stepping in. The Chargers should consider running some 4-6 alignments just to get more of this talent on the field.

And the thinnest: Defensive Line

Despite featuring three Pro Bowl-caliber starters, the defensive line is definitely the shallowest unit on the team. Jacques Cesaire is a nice sub but is in over his head when forced into the starting line-up. Derreck Robinson is a former undrafted free agent who has yet to prove anything, and the drop off from Jamal Williams to Ryon Bingham is dangerously precipitous.

Better days ahead: Safety

One spot is solid, as Marlon McCree lived up to the hype in his first season in San Diego. The spot opposite McCree should improve in 2007 regardless of who plays there. Bhawoh Jue is now healthy after battling knee pain all of last season. If Jue doesn't win the starting job, then it should go to versatile second-round pick Eric Weddle. Either way, expect more big plays than Terrence Kiel authored last season.


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