Background: Peterman (6-foot-4, 323 pounds) was a third-round pick out of LSU by the Dallas Cowboys in 2004. He was expected to compete for immediate playing time, but tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee in the preseason. He was cut by the Cowboys after the 2005 season and joined the Detroit Lions practice squad. He quickly ascended the ranks in Mo Town, moving into the starting lineup by the fourth game of the 2007 season and starting 27 of a possible 29 games since then.
OG Stephen Peterman
What Not to Like: Durability is a concern, as he has never played an entire 16-game season during his five-year career. That's troubling for the Chargers, who place a premium on durability, especially amongst their offensive linemen. The Chargers were forced to start eight different players on the O-line last season and the effect it had on chemistry was noticeable. The man Peterman would replace, Mike Goff, started all 80 games during his five-year stint with the Bolts.
Outlook: The Chargers love LSU products, having drafted one in each of the last two drafts. GM A.J. Smith also has a penchant for targeting middle-tier players capable of outplaying their contracts, and Peterman seems to fit that description.
Background: Brown (6-foot-5, 332 pounds) was a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals out of Virginia in 2005. He started nine games at guard as a rookie, but struggled with a knee injury and was relegated to the inactive list during his second season. He bounced back to make five starts in 2007, all at right tackle, but also saw time in a reserve role at right guard. He was active for every game in 2008 as the team's top backup at guard and tackle, but never cracked the starting lineup because none of Arizona's starting offensive linemen missed a game due to injury.
OG Elton Brown
What Not to Like: Brown has limited experience, starting just five games over the last three seasons. His most extensive playing time came as a rookie, when he ceded 4.25 sacks despite starting only nine games. Also, like Peterman, Brown has a medical history the Chargers must be wary of, although the damage to his knee was not nearly as extensive.
Outlook: Brown is similar to Scott Mruczkowski, as both are big linemen capable of playing multiple positions. Brown has more starting experience than Mruczkowski and plays guard and tackle as opposed to guard and center, so letting those two compete at guard would create a promising mix of competition, depth and versatility.
Peterman and Brown are similar in their pros and cons. Both provide a physical interior presence and superior run blocking skills, yet both have question marks surrounding their durability and long-term effectiveness. They both come from powerhouse collegiate programs and bring terrific intangibles and high football IQs.
If the injuries scare off the Chargers, the team has several options. It could re-sign backup Kynan Forney; promote 2008 practice squad member Brandyn Dombrowski (SDSU); or address the guard spot during the draft. However, the Chargers likely have more needs than valuable draft picks this year, so it may make sense to fill this void in free agency, since guards are notoriously affordable.
In the end, this comes down to the recent strong play of Peterman versus the versatility and upside of Brown.
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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.