On April 18th, the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders announced they have cut nose tackle Dan Williams. The release comes two seasons after picking him up as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. The L.A. Chargers should be interested in this development as they sorely need depth along the defensive line, particularly at nose tackle. Williams would be a solid backup to starter to Brandon Mebane and give the Chargers two legitimate veteran run stoppers in the middle of the line.
Williams is currently listed at 6’2″, 330-pounds. In Arizona, he was a cornerstone of their defense, consistently occupying two blockers and plugging running lanes. As a result, pass rushers such as Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry and Daryl Washington feasted on quarterbacks. With the uprising of young, hungry pass rushers and linebackers on defense, having wily veterans like Mebane and Williams is just the type of anchor needed to make the defensive line unstoppable.
Bringing in Williams also finally rectifies an egregious mistake that is seven years old.
I take you back to the 2010 NFL Draft.
The San Diego Chargers had closed a 13-3 season with a humiliating loss in the divisional round to the New York Jets. All-Everything running back Ladainian Tomlinson asked for and was granted a release. Seated at the 28th spot in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chargers sacrificed their first- and second-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up 16 spots and select…
Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews…(insert rim shot here)….
The heir apparent to Tomlinson, like a bottle rocket, had a few flashes…and fizzled out. In five seasons, he had 24 touchdowns and 15 fumbles lost. Mathews missed 25% of the teams’ regular season games with injuries (20 out of 80). Mathews has logged a full 16-game season only once in his career (2013). That includes his current stint in Philadelphia.
And the injuries….soooo many injuries. Hamstring. Quadriceps. Groin. Thumb. Both collarbones. Concussion. Both ankles. And on and on and on….
Back to the 2010 NFL Draft. With the 26th pick in the draft the Arizona Cardinals selected Dan Williams and he became their keystone nose tackle. Aside from a broken arm in 2011 in which he missed the last six games he has only missed four games his entire career. Williams hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons. The only reason he’s a free agent now is because of his salary cap number. Cutting Williams took $4.5-million off the Raiders’ ledger.
Perhaps the Chargers thought Mathews was the only worthy replacement in the draft. Jahvid Best, Dexter McCluster and Ben Tate were all selected after the Chargers’ original draft slot. Brain Westbrook, Thomas Jones, Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis and Pierre Thomas were all available in free agency.
What other names were missed in the first round? There was Safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15), G Mike Iupati (17), C Maurkice Pouncey (18), WR’s Demaryius Thomas (22), Dez Bryant (24) and CB Devin McCourty (28).
As far as that second round pick goes, that was the year Rob Gronkowski was drafted. What’s Gronkowski up to these days? Dude has so much game he’s bodychecking pro wrestlers at Wrestlemania and cutting in on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during an official press conference!
And that’s only this month…
Take a moment and envision a two-tight end set of Antonio Gates and Gronk! The Chargers wouldn’t have needed wide receivers and Philip Rivers would’ve been smashing passing records. DT Linval Joseph (46), LB Daryl Washington (47), DE Carlos Dunlap (54), LB Sean Lee (55) and WR Golden Tate (60) all heard their names called that round.
As much as that day in 2010 will live in infamy for me and many other Chargers fans, bringing Williams into the fold will add some salve to the wound. It makes sense and there’s history there. While Williams was in Arizona his head coach was current Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Don’t be surprised if a visit isn’t already in the works.
Moral of the story is do your homework. Stick to your board. Don’t let one great year of college football eclipse a checkered injury history coming into the draft. In short…
Don’t Mathews it up!
The Greg One
This Sunday, the Chargers officially head to war. This marks their last cross country trip of the season as they head to Arrowhead stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle for the playoffs. A win secures a playoff berth, and well, a loss sends the Bolts packing. Unfortunately, the Chargers might not have their “bell cow” running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) or number one wide receiver Keenan Allen (collar bone, ankle); both sat out of practice on Tuesday. Taking chances this late in the season isn’t entirely customary, yet contemplating the signing of Ben Tate is one the Chargers should take a gamble on.
Yesterday, Tate was released and sent back to wires by the Minnesota Vikings. It comes to no surprise since the running back was only limited to only 13 attempts over three appearances. Yet, the Chargers are in desperate search for a run game, and Tate’s release couldn’t have come at a better time. With Philip Rivers’ dealing with a bulging disk in his back and a team with a heavily beat up offense, the resurgence of a run game is highly sought after for the Chargers.
You might be wondering, “How can Tate be singed?” well here’s how it will play out. Ryan Mathews, an incredible running back, was injured shortly after being cleared from the knee injury he sustained earlier this season from a tripping penalty on the New England Patriots. He hasn’t practiced since and may not for a while. Even with a few weeks off to recover, he doesn’t look to be progressing as quickly as the Chargers need him to. That being said, placing Mathews to injured reserve and signing Tate will be the best option at this point.
Factoring the NFL’s waiver wire, there are running back hungry teams heading into the playoffs. From what it looks like, the Chargers have a better shot at Tate than the Arizona Cardinals or their AFC opponent, the Indianapolis Colts; both teams previously attempted to claim him after he was waived by the Cleveland Browns last month. The Chargers are ranked almost dead last in the rushing offense and a change is urgently needed right now.
In the 2010 NFL draft, Ryan Mathews was selected twelfth overall and just a round later, Ben Tate was selected fifty-eight overall by the Houston Texans. Since then, Tate has averaged 4.4 yards over his career with his longest run being 60 yards. Tate stacks at 5’10 and 220 lbs., very similar to Mathews’ stature. It’s a running back like this that can boost the run game and lift the Chargers to another level. A level that we have only seen glimpses of all year.
There will be a lot of noise made about Tate today, and I suggest you listen carefully. The Chargers need a win this Sunday to earn a spot in the playoffs. With no run game, the chances of the playoffs, or even succeeding in the post season, seem very questionable. I say place Mathews to injured reserve in order to prevent from further injury and bring in a veteran that compliments rookie Branden Oliver. At this point, there’s isn’t much to lose, but absolutely everything to gain.