Chargers Set Up Visits with Two Running Backs

The San Diego Chargers arranged visits with a pair of premier running back prospects, according to a insider. Both the players are candidates to be picked with the No. 40 overall selection.

The Chargers arranged visits with Jahvid Best (Cal) and Montario Hardesty (Tennessee), according to's Aaron Wilson. Best's visit is expected to take place next week; Hardesty has reportedly already completed his visit.

Both players are possibilities with the No. 40 overall selection, which the Chargers received from the Seattle Seahawks in the Charlie Whitehurst trade.

Best (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) is the higher rated of the two prospects. He is an electrifying runner and threat to score from anywhere on the field. The combination of he and Darren Sproles would give defensive coordinators fits, but neither player has the size or make-up to be a workhorse running back.

There are questions about Best's durability. He missed time during his career with head, hip, foot and elbow injuries -- he had surgery on his foot and elbow in 2008 -- so he will need to be part of a platoon in the NFL.

Hardesty better fits a featured-runner mold at 6-foot-0, 215 pounds. He showed he has the ability to carry the load last year when he carried 282 times for 1,345 yards and 13 touchdowns. Hardesty's better than Best at running through contact, which could make him the better complement to Sproles, but Hardesty lacks Best's speed and big-play ability.

There is a chance that Hardesty could last until the end of the third round. However, if A.J. Smith believes Hardesty can bat lead-off in next season's running back rotation, Smith may not risk losing the instinctive runner.

Because Sproles has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender, the only running back on San Diego's depth chart is Marcus Mason, who was acquired off waivers earlier this offseason. With non-existent depth, Smith is expected to select at least two running backs in the draft.

Which halfback will the Chargers choose? Discuss in the Insiders Draft Talk Forum.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the 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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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