Six Questions with Draft Expert Chris Steuber

With the regular season underway, Scout.com Draft Analyst Chris Steuber stops by to give Chargers fans the information they need before the Carolina Panthers come to town. Is Mike Tolbert ready to start? Would the Chargers have been better off keeping Marcus Thomas instead of Jacob Hester? Steuber has these answers and more inside.

Michael Lombardo: Undrafted fullback Mike Tolbert will be the only rookie to start for the Chargers on opening day. Did you see anything from Tolbert during his time at Coastal Carolina that made you think such a leap was possible, or is his emergence a complete shocker? Could he perform better in the pros than in college?

Chris Steuber: I'm not shocked by the emergence of Mike Tolbert, but I did have my questions about him. He's barely 5-foot-9, but he's like a bowling ball who carries 245 pounds well. He was a very productive performer at Coastal Carolina and was the team's leading rusher. He had 111 carries during his senior season and rushed for 748 yards and nine touchdowns. He's a great short-yardage runner who will fight for tough yards, and at his stature, it's easy to get low and be a reliable lead blocker. Tolbert wasn't a bad collegiate player, he just didn't get the exposure most of the other prospects received. I think the Chargers may have gotten a steal.

ML: Jacob Hester struggled a bit during the preseason. He wasn't especially effective near the goal line and appears to have lost the No. 2 job to Darren Sproles. However, I know you are one of his biggest fans. What should fans make of his mediocre preseason performance?


RB Jacob Hester
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty

CS: Jacob Hester is a hard-nosed football player, and I don't generally worry about players who play the right way. I've heard the same thing about Hester, about him having a mediocre preseason. But what was so mediocre about it? I thought he played pretty well overall. He may not have been very effective inside the 10, but the numbers he produced were not bad (44 carries for 173 yards and three touchdowns). I thought he struggled against Seattle in the third preseason game, but he still managed to find paydirt.

The biggest knock against Hester has always been his size. He's not going to run defenders over because he's packing bulk; he will run through you with his passion for the game. Hester is the ultimate tweener. He doesn't have the elite speed to be a featured back or the ideal size to be a fullback. He's a football player, and when he's on the field, whether it's on offense or special teams, he will produce. Give him time.

ML: The Chargers made a controversial move by cutting RB Marcus Thomas, who was quickly picked up by the Detroit Lions. Is this a move the Chargers will regret in the near future? Do you believe Thomas will develop into a starting running back?

CS: Well, the Chargers had to cut someone, and it came down to Marcus Thomas or Jacob Hester. With Hester being a third-round pick, it was highly unlikely that they would let him go, so Thomas was the odd man out. I think Thomas has a lot of talent, but he doesn't have featured back speed, and I think he will be a backup during his career. I don't think the Chargers will regret the release of Thomas, because Hester will make him a distant memory.


NT Lamar Divens
B. Wiseman/VandyMania.com

ML: Another of San Diego's cuts, NT Lamar Divens, was quickly snatched up by the Baltimore Ravens. Did the Chargers make a mistake by giving up on him so early? Who do you like better at nose tackle, Divens or current backup Brandon McKinney?

CS: It's easy to second guess a front office for the decisions they make on the field, but when you have two players who possess similar qualities, it's a tough decision. I think the Chargers decided to go with Brandon McKinney because he's familiar with the defense and has an understanding of his role. Divens is an interesting player. He has great size and toughness and looks like he can become a quality player. But for the Chargers, I think they made a good decision to go with McKinney, who has yet to realize his potential.

ML: When the Chargers announced their decision to keep seventh-round pick Corey Clark on the active roster, Head Coach Norv Turner said one of the reasons why is Clark's ability to play tackle or guard. Did you see anything from him at Texas A&M that made you think he could play guard? Which position is he better suited to play?

CS: Obviously, Corey Clark is a tackle. He was a three-year starter at Texas A&M, and although he could fill-in at guard, I don't see his long-term position in the League being at guard. Clark doesn't play low enough to play inside, but he moves his feet well and is a rugged blocker.

ML: The Chargers kept only two rookies on the practice squad, WR Gary Banks and OG Brandyn Dombrowski. What is your take on these two? Does either player have the chance to develop into a contributor?

CS: I think Gary Banks has the skill to develop into a fourth receiver on a team. I was surprised a team didn't take a chance on Banks late in the draft, but being a 26-year-old rookie doesn't help. Banks was very productive at Troy and had a nice senior season. He's a possession receiver who lacks explosiveness, but he has good hands and runs excellent routes.

Brandyn Dombrowksi is a massive lineman who has a chance to be a quality reserve player with more development. He lacks athleticism, but possesses a mean streak and mauls the opposition. He's a player who could be a keeper for the Chargers.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber's features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.


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