Reviewing the draft: San Diego Chargers

San Diego was the worst team in the NFL in 2003 and as such was the first franchise to select in the 2004 draft. With major needs at several critical positions the Chargers were rumored to do anything and everything with the number one selection short of trading up. While the Manning family tried to throw a slight wrench in the teams plans, in the end, San Diego still held the cards.

Philip Rivers was the quarterback San Diego wanted all along and they let it be known at the combine.  The only real question was whether the team would have the creativity to acquire him while still getting value for the first overall pick.  San Diego completed that task and not only got a great leader with an accurate throwing arm, but a bunch of picks from the New York Giants in the trade that went down.  This included a potentially early selection in the first round of '05 should the Giants falter this season.  While his mechanics are questionable Rivers is the type of quarterback that produces based on his ability to lead teammates and should thrive in San Diego in time.  Igor Olshansky is an inexperienced defensive tackle that shot up draft boards after completing 41 repetitions on the bench at the combine.  He bested that feat by two at his pro day and solidified his place as a first day pick in doing so.  Olshansky is a big and strong player that still needs refinement and should he fully develop his game, he will be a beast at defensive tackle. Nate Kaeding should man the place kicking duties in San Diego for the next 10 years as the strong legged Kaeding is accurate with the ability to knock the air out of the ball. Nick Hardwick is a hard working and versatile player that does not stand out in any one phase of the game.  He has the potential to play several positions which should help him in his quest to be a starter.  San Diego opened the second day selecting a pair of defensive ends in Shaun Phillips and Dave Ball.  While both are better pass rushers then run stoppers, the comparisons end there.  Phillips offers long term potential as a right end with the ability to create havoc up the field and the former tight end should contribute immediately during pass rushing situations.  Dave Ball is a bigger yet less athletic.  Ball has a tiresome work ethic and offers good size potential.  Michael Turner offers the team a prospect to develop behind LaDanian Tomlinson.  Turner is a big physical runner who is best between the tackles yet also displays adequate skill to the outside.  While he merits short yardage and goal line work it is difficult seeing the team take Tomlinson off the field and Turner getting a lot of playing time.  Still, he was still good value during the second day. Ryan Krause is a big wide receiver that should convert nicely into a tight end for the Chargers.  Krause has the ability to get downfield and does a nice job extending his hands to make the catch.  While he was a very good blocker in college he played at a D-II level.  Ryon Bingham is a high effort defensive tackle that is the overachieving type Marty Schottenheimer loves.  Bingham has the ability to play in a rotational system immediately and could see time as a rookie. With their final two selections the Chargers focused on the offensive tackle position.  Shane Olivea is a high effort strong side tackle who does a nice job sealing off blocks.  He is not a great athlete but could develop into a starter down the road or at the very worst, backup at right tackle.  Carlos Joseph meanwhile has great long term potential.  Should he refine his technique and become a more cerebral player San Diego will have found a steal at left tackle.

One of the best (and most publicized) stories in the days leading up to April was Eli Manning's desire to not be a San Diego Charger.  Despite the franchises need for a quarterback, the fact that they had the first overall selection, and the presence of LaDanian Tomlinson, Manning preferred to play elsewhere and was vocal about it.  San Diego was a franchise of rubes heading into draft day but after selecting Manning and trading him to the New York Giants for a kings ransom then getting the quarterback they really wanted, the franchise now looks brilliant. With the quarterback of the future on its' roster plus an infusion of youth on both sides of the line, San Diego continues to prepare it's roster for sustained success in the coming years.

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