It is that time

Well it is that time of the year again. No, I am not talking about the Chargers annual "we watch from Seau's Super Bowl party", or the "pick who is going to win the Super Bowl while we dream of it being the Chargers some day get together".

It is that time of the year where we diehard fans get to play John Butler on the Message Boards and in office Pools or by the water cooler at work. The time of year where, we think we know who fits this team, what this team needs and who they should draft and then we sit back and see how close we are when April rolls around.

This year I am entering the fray. I am going to go out on a limb here and make some predictions and see what you guys think of it and then sit back and see the frenzy on how wrong I am. I never claimed to be a good eye for talent like John Butler, but I do know what I see and what I like. Here are a few at the positions I think are most needed.

Kicker, how many games could we have won if we had a kicker that could kick the ball more then 40 yards (and we were lucky there)? We had to of had the worst kicking tandem in the NFL. I know of 2 or 3 games we should have won, but we ended up losing in the end if the kicker would of just made a kick when sent out there. So I will start with Kickers.

Nate Kaeding of the Iowa Hawkeye's was the best kicker in all of College football this year. In fact, he won the Lou Groza award that goes to the best kicker in college football to prove it. He is 6'0 177 pound Junior with a leg that is cash money in the bank. He was 20-22 on field goals and 55 of 56 on PATs. His longest FG was 55 yards and he had a 90.9 kicking percentage. Kaeding is the best in college and if he were to come out, he would most likely go in the mid 2nd to early 3rd rounds of the NFL Draft. The question is, is he going to come out? Most experts say no he is staying one more year, but Kaeding has yet to commit one way or the other. Big Leg and Accuracy, just what the Doctor ordered for the Chargers.

John Anderson, of the Washington Huskies had an off year this year, but still could be a good choice; he made 22-34 attempts with a long of 52 yards he had a kicking percentage of 64.7 yards. Anderson was also up for the Lou Groza award and in 1999 kicked a 56 yarder against UCLA. He is considered one of the best long ball kickers in Huskies history.

Seth Marler of Tulane University is rated as Mel Kiper's top kicker in the 2003 draft if Kaeding does not come out. Marler has a Monster leg and 54 of his 58 kickoffs have gone into the end zone this year. He has hit 20-33 field goals with a 60.6 kicking percentage. His long this year is 51 yards. Marler won the 2001 Groza award for the best kicker in the nation. If Kaeding were not available, Marler would probably be the best pick up for the Chargers if they went through the Draft for a kicker.

Defense let the Chargers down a lot this year; Their DB's were hard pressed in their coverage's in the new cover-2 system. What made it even harder on them was there was no pass rush at all. The defense started out strong and then faded as they implemented more and more of the Cover-2 system. Simply put, without a pass rush the Cover-2 does not work. The Chargers are in need of a big beast up the middle, even if they pick up one in free agency, I would get a big beast in the draft. With the injury's Jamal Williams has suffered the last 2 years it is good if they have someone that can step in right away or that can play beside him at the outset. The Chargers also need a fast, strong defensive end, someone who can get to the QB quickly and get through the tackles and double teams. The Chargers were week on the ends this year with Marcellus Wiley being hurt and Ray Lee Johnson not as fast as he once was. Here are three DT's and two DE's that I think could make this Charger Squad Stronger.

William Joseph, a 6'4, 290 pound DT out of the Miami, is noted as the best tackle available right now. They say he is the best interior defensive lineman that has played for the Hurricanes since Warren Sapp. In 13 games, he has 51 tackles and 5 sacks. He is strong against the pass often taking on double teams and pushing them back and is also strong against the run.

Jimmy Kennedy, a 6'4, 330 pound DT out of Penn State, was named Big Ten Defensive player of the year. With 78 tackles and 5 sacks he helped his team by plugging up two offensive linemen every time he rushed. Very big against the run and the pass Kennedy is rated the 2nd best lineman behind Joseph coming out this year in the draft. If there at pick 15, Kennedy could be a big help and big body in the middle the Chargers need.

Dewayne Robertson, a 6'3, 310 pound DT out of Kentucky, is most likely to be the one available at pick #15 for the Chargers. I personally like this kid; I think he is moving up the draft boards because of his mobility and quickness. Robertson was Double-teamed all year and still was able to make a difference in the offensive backfield. He had 48 tackles, 5 sacks, 13 Quarterback hurries and 1 blocked kick. He is a big body that gets after the QB.

Jerome McDougle, a 6'3, 270 pound DE of Miami, is considered the best pure pass rusher coming out of college. McDougle had 53 tackles, 7 sacks and 48 QB hurries; he was a QBs nightmare. Speedy and strong McDougle was constantly in the opponents backfield, his only down fall is he has only played 1 year of division 1 football. McDougle could be a steal for the Chargers if he were to drop to #15.

Terrell Suggs, a 6'3, 240 pound DE out of Arizona, is projected as an Outside Linebacker in the NFL cause of his size, but could still be dominant as a DE if he were to put on some more muscle. Suggs was given the Ted Hendricks award that goes to the best Defensive end in the nation; He also was given the 2002 Nagurski award for the best defensive player in the nation. Suggs had 31.5 tackles for loss, 24 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. He is considered the best defensive player in College Football. He is powerful and quick, and though he is considered small for a defensive end in the NFL, he has a natural ability to get to the QB. In my opinion it would be a waste of his talent to us him at linebacker and he could be the next Dwight Freeney or Julius Peppers.

Osi Umenyiora, a 6'3 280 pound DE out of Troy State, is my sleeper pick at End. He played Tackle, Nose Tackle and End throughout his career in college. He had a breakout year with 57 tackles, 16 sacks, and 20.5 tackles for Loss, forced 3 fumbles and had 43 QB hurries. Umenyiora is quick and speedy and has a great first move to get past tackles and Tight Ends. He is a strong rusher. He should be available in the 2nd round if the Chargers go looking for a quality pass rusher. He definitely is a John Butler kid and a Marty Schottenheimer hard nose Defensive player, has a nose for the QB and could be good to take a year behind Wiley and learn the ropes at End in the NFL.

The Secondary let the Chargers Down this year, giving up the most yards in team history, QBs licked their Chops when they came to town, we made first and Second year QBs like Chad Pennington, Tom Brady and Marc Bulger look like Joe Montana, while making veteran QBs like Trent Green and Rich Gannon look like first ballot Hall of Famers. I went and looked at some DB's and Safeties coming out of College and chose the 3 in each category I thought could help us the most.

Jason Goss, a 5'10, 190 pound CB out of Texas Christian, has been a monster at Corner this year with 49 tackles 7 interceptions and 29 passes broken up. He has the ability to run man for man and cover zones. He would be a good pick up to match on the other side of Quentin Jammer in the cover 2; he has good hands and feet. He also is a very good punt returner that can allow Tim Dwight to concentrate strictly on offense.

Shane Walton, a 5'10, 185 pound DB out of Notre Dame, is a San Diego native. Walton had 65 tackles, 7 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. He was one of 5 players in the running for the Nagurski award given to the best defensive players in the nation. Walton also returned punts for Notre Dame; he is a man-to-man, bump-and-run, get in your face corner, and has the speed to stay with the receivers in the NFL. It would be nice to have another hometown hero return the Chargers and help this team to the playoffs and beyond. Walton is capable of manning the other side from Jammer.

Andre Woolfolk, a 6'1, 190 pound DB out of Oklahoma, does not look like he has impressive #'s, but don't let stats fool you, he had 25 tackles, 2 interception and 5 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and 2 blocked kicks. Norman is as pure a shut down corner as there is, he is big and he is fast, he will get in your face on bump-and-run coverage and has the ability to stick with the big receivers. He is a good shut down corner and would match up best in the cover-2 system along with Jammer, I don't see him slipping to #15 but he would be hard to pass up if he was there.

Troy Polamalu, a 5'10, 255 pound SS/FS out of USC, is really a Safety in a Linebackers body. He has 4.6 speed and covers the field quickly, and is known for his big hits. He had 3 sacks this year and has FS skills and could easily fill that position with the Chargers. It is very possible he is there at #15 and would be hard to pass up. If he slips into the Second Round the Chargers would be smart to trade up to get him.

Michael Doss, a 5'10, 205 pound SS/FS out of Ohio State, is impressive; he had 98 tackles, 1 interception and 7 passes broken up. He is known to be one of the hardest hitting safeties in football, is very good against the run and when he hits you, you are hard pressed to hold on to the ball. He has deceptive speed with a 4.6 40. As with Polamalu he has FS skills and is likely to go before #15. I would take Polamalu over Doss but if available I would give him a strong consideration.

Milt Bowen, a 6'1, 200 pound SS/FS out of Miami Ohio, had a good season this year with 84 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 11 passes broken up. He went to Miami as a Wide Receiver and has good coverage skills; he can also play some DB. Being an Ex-Receiver Bowen's has good hands and can get to the ball quick, he has 4.9 40 but that is deceptive, he has quick feet and is highly intelligent. Bowen also had 27 kick returns for 592 yards averaging 21.9 yards a return. Bowen should be available in the 2nd round if the Chargers choose a DT in the first and are looking to go for a safety. They get 2 players for the price of one with his Kick returning skills and Bowen could be a big help for the Chargers.

The Chargers could use Receiver help, but are best getting that in the later rounds. Charlie Rogers, the nations leading Receiver, will be gone long before the #15 pick and I think the Chargers need to concentrate on Defense so I picked three Receivers I think will be available in the 3rd rounds or lower that might be able to come in and help this team right away.

Kassim Osgood, a 6'4, 205 pound WR out of San Diego State, tops my list of Receivers I hope that the Chargers take a good look at and draft. Osgood finished off with 108 catches for 1,552 yards and 8 TD's, averaging 14.4 yards a Catch. Osgood was a unanimous all Mountain West pick, as he and his receiving partner Jr Tolver (whom I will talk about later) broke the NCAA record in receiving and yards for a Duo. At 6'4 he is the tall receiver that the Chargers are looking for. He has deceptive speed running a 4.6 40. Osgood has very soft hands and could possibly wind up being one of the best receivers coming out of the draft; He has the Terrell Owens size and ability with out the attitude.

JR Tolver, a 6'0, 200 pound WR out of San Diego State, is Osgood's partner and also one of the better receivers coming out in the draft. Tolver had 128 catches for 1,785 yards and 19 TD's, he can join the line of pro receivers like Webster Slaughter and Darnay Scott as being a very good receiver in the NFL. Tolver is in the top 10 in the NCAA record books ranking 7th in catches and 4th in yards. Tolver is going to surprise some teams and can also return punts and kickoffs. Chargers could not go wrong with either Tolver or Osgood.

Kevin Walter is a 6'3, 220 pound WR out of Eastern Michigan. Eastern Michigan is a Division IAA school, but Walter plays like a Division IA receiver. He has good hands and good speed. At 6'3, he is tall enough to put a hurt on some NFL DB's. He had 1,368 receiving yards with 9 TD's with a 14.7-yard average. He had a 4.6 40 and soft hands. He is capable of helping the Chargers at receiver right away or starting off on Special Teams.

The Chargers could use Depth at offensive line but I think they are best served getting that through Free Agency along with a big time receiver like David Boston or Peerless Price. I believe the players mentioned above are able to come in right away and contribute to this Team.

I know the Chargers need help in just about every Area except QB and Running back, but a lot of that can be addressed in free agency and in the draft, so for one day I played John Butler and I went on a recruiting trip looking at players that I felt could help this team win next year and years beyond. Heck it is that time of year now isn't it.

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