I am going to begin this post by making it crystal clear that I have the utmost respect for Antonio Gates and I do not, by any means, think that he is done. It is my belief that he has at least two more solid seasons left in him. And by the time his reign as one of the best tight ends to ever play the game ends, the Chargers have just the man in place to take over and make Gates proud to relinquish his throne.
His name is Ladarius Green. He just so happens to be 6’6″ and, as Philip Rivers once proclaimed, is the fastest player on the team. In 2014, Green will be entering his third season in the NFL. His rookie year didn’t afford him many opportunities to establish himself in the Charger offense. Some of that was due to a steep learning curve as Green was a fourth round draft pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette. His sophomore season in the NFL provided more chances but there is still a lot left to be seen. The former Ragin’ Cajun was a bit of an unknown as a collegian but made a statement on the national scene with a solid performance in the New Orleans bowl versus the San Diego State Aztecs in 2011. Take a look.
My apologies to the Aztec fans that had to relive those highlights.
As you can see from the video, Green has great speed and height for the position. Ladarius has put on some much-needed weight since his college days to thicken up for his blocking duties at the next level.
Although the bowl game highlights provide a bit of foreshadowing for the future, the Chargers and their fans really have just begun to see what the ultimate potential is for Green.
Before I drop a few stats and facts about Green’s performances during his short-lived Chargers career, here is another video but this one has plays from his NFL career.
Now that you’ve taken a look at a couple of videos, I’m going to throw out some tidbits about Ladarius Green.
– Of all the players in the NFL that had at least 17 receptions, he averaged more yards per catch – 22.1 – than everyone else.
– While recording catches in 9 different games, he managed to have a catch of at least 20 yards in 8 of those 9 contests.
– His 60 yard touchdown catch in week 12 versus Kansas City was the longest reception of the season by a Charger.
– Despite only 17 receptions during the regular season, 3 went for touchdowns.
– His first career catch was a 31 yarder versus the Titans as a rookie.
– In the first playoff game of his career he had 3 catches. One of which was an impressive jump ball TD from Rivers.
Knowing that Green has been learning his craft under future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, Charger fans have a lot to be excited about. Though he is still incredibly raw in many facets of the game, he certainly has the right teacher in Gates. When adding in the mental part of the game with Green’s athleticism and playmaking ability, you have the makings of something special.
As I mentioned above, Ladarius will be heading into his third year this offseason. But due to allowing him time to develop, Green has yet to accumulate enough regular season starts to make up a full 16 game season. As long as Green is a patient man, he’ll certainly benefit from this. The sky is the limit for this future superstar. He has a lot to work on in the blocking department, but his predecessor has had his struggles with that as well. That guy seemed to turn out ok.
Note to the rest of the NFL:
Ladarius Green hasn’t even come close to reaching his ceiling. The best is yet to come and I’m glad that I’ll be there for the entire ride. So jump on the Ladarius Green bandwagon now while there’s still room. Because, come next season, there might not be anywhere to sit.