The news of the week for the San Diego Chargers was the acquisition of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The Bolts claimed him off waivers Tuesday and released quarterback Bryn Renner to make space on the roster.
With Mettenberger in the fold that makes three quarterbacks at camp vying for the back-up quarterback position behind Philip Rivers. Kellen Clemens and undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici are the other quarterbacks filling out what will be a very interesting camp battle.
Mettenberger, 24, was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Titans. Standing 6’5″, 224 pounds, Mettenberger was a standout quarterback at LSU. Moving into the starting lineup in his junior season, Mettenberger excelled right away. In leading the Tigers to a 10-3 (6-2 in the SEC) season, Mettenberger went 207-352 for 2,609 yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. They lost by one point in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to Clemson 25-24. LSU finished 12th in the Coaches Poll and 14th in the Associated Press Poll that year.
In his senior season, Mettenberger made another quantum leap forward. Although they duplicated their record from the previous season at 10-3 (5-3 vs. the SEC), Mettenberger went 192-296 for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The Tigers finished 14th in the AP and Coaches Poll as a result.
According to his 2014 draft profile on numerous NFL sites including NFL.com and WalterFootball.com, Mettenberger’s strengths are his outstanding arm strength, size, field vision and working from a pro-style offense in college. In his senior season he had a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron calling his plays. Cameron had just left the same position for the San Diego Chargers that offseason. Cameron’s arrival was key in Mettenberger’s senior year explosion.
Mettenberger’s perceived weaknesses were his footwork, work-ethic, long delivery and needing to improve his accuracy. For all intents and purposes Mettenberger had second-round talent. The main catalyst in his plunge into the late rounds was an ACL injury he suffered in the final game of the 2013 regular season. The injury prevented Mettenberger from participating in the NFL Combine. He did shine at LSU’s Pro Day where he completed 90% of his 125 passes.
The discussion of who the heir apparent to Philip Rivers should be has raged on for multiple seasons. We all know Scott Tolzien, Brad Sorensen, Kellen Clemens and Charlie Whitehurst were never going to be the answer to that question.
Mettenberger already has the advantage of knowing the system of new Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was the head coach for the Titans for both of Mettenbergers’ years in Nashville. The last time the Chargers made the playoffs was the one year Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator. The Chargers leaped from 31st to 5th in total offense in that season. Tennessee offered him their head coach position immediately after the season. He was fired halfway through his second season as head coach.
Whisenhunt brought John McNulty with him from Tennessee to be the Bolts new tight ends coach. McNulty was Mettenbergers’ quarterbacks coach in Tennessee. In a new interview with Ricky Henne of Chargers.com his had this to say about reuniting with his old coaches:
“I was definitely relieved to come to a situation where the future looks good for me. That was a long 24 hours to be waiting so it was great to hear his voice.” Mettenberger was speaking of Ken Whisenhunt, who called Mettenberger immediately after the waiver claim was official. Mettenberger continued. “The first thing he asked me was if I still remember the playbook. Fortunately, I know it really well. He was really excited to get back to work with me. He was the one who drafted me, so it’s worked out really well. It’s awesome to be back with Coach Whiz and Coach McNulty.”
Did the Chargers just stumble onto their quarterback of the future?
Pessimists will point to the fact that Mettenberger is 0-10 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. That is true. What also can’t be disputed is how awful the Tennessee Titans have been over the past two seasons. The Titans were 2-14 the season Mettenberger was drafted and 3-13 in 2015. The Titans ranked 25th or lower in the NFL in rushing yards, passing yards, points for and points against.
Mettenberger had a better offense at LSU than he had in Tennessee. At least at LSU he had Pro Bowlers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. to catch the ball. Alfred Blue and Jeremy Hill were chewing up yards running the football.
Mettenberger is in an ideal situation in San Diego. With his knowledge of the offense and coaches he already has a leg up on Clemens and Bercovici. He now has a better team and an elite, veteran NFL quarterback as a mentor. Rivers’ contract ends at the conclusion of the 2019 season. In three seasons Mettenberger will be 27 and ready to step into the starting spot. There is no pressure to produce right away as there was in Tennessee.
We’ve seen this situation play out with great success when you consider stars like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Rivers himself. All of them watched from the bench for a season or more before their number was called. All of them will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio one day.
The reset button has been pushed on Zach Mettenberger’s career. For the first time since the departure of Drew Brees there appears to be a capable second-in-command waiting in the wings. Is Mettenberger that man? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The Chargers have been incredibly busy this week reshuffling their roster. The team announced today that they have added cornerback Carrington Byndom. Formerly of the Carolina Panthers, Byndom played in five games last season for the Panthers (two of which were in the postseason).
In a corresponding move, the Bolts released quarterback Brad Sorensen. The seventh-round selection of the 2013 draft has had multiple stints with the Chargers, spending time on both the active roster as a rookie, and various times on the team’s practice squad. He has yet to throw a single pass in a regular season game in the NFL.
The addition of Byndom shows that the team did not feel confident in the numbers it had at the cornerback position. The unit finished with only two players last week in their loss against the Minnesota Vikings (Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams).
Starting cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett have both been banged up with knee and foot ailments, respectively. Rookie third-round draft pick Craig Mager is battling through hamstring issues. According to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Mager is not expected to play this Sunday at home against the Browns.
Both the secondary and the offensive line have been decimated by injuries early on in the 2015 campaign. The latter being hit harder than the former.
Brad Sorensen, 27, was picked by the Chargers with the 221st overall pick in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. Sorensen, the Southern Utah product, has never started a game in his career. It is tough to start a game when you are working behind an elite quarterback such as Philip Rivers.
Sorensen has played in every preseason game since being drafted, but his most impressive outing was against the Arizona Cardinals on August 22 of this year.
Sorensen was 13-25 with 122 yards and an interception. Those stats may not sound amazing, but he showed that he could lead the Chargers down the field.
The third-year signal caller had pressure all over him, but he kept calm in the pocket and threw with a great deal of poise. He also showed that he could make quick decisions by hitting his target on time with the pass rush all around him. That is something that Rivers might have taught him along with having quick feet inside the pocket. He seemed to be able to read defenses well, attacking their weak spots. That is pretty impressive for only being in the league for two years. Now that Rivers got his new four-year contract extension, he can learn so much more from him.
Sorensen has done a solid job learning from Rivers. With some time and effort, the 33-year-old might be able to turn Sorensen into a future option at quarterback once No. 17 hangs up his cleats. He has four years to learn all he can from Rivers. That should be plenty of time to learn the position, and learn it well.
He can also learn a lot from offensive coordinator Frank Reich and head coach Mike McCoy. Reich was a quarterback for the Bills, Panthers, Jets and Lions. McCoy has had experience making sub-par quarterbacks such as Jake Delhomme and Tim Tebow into winners. As we all know, he also worked with one of the best passers in NFL history, Peyton Manning.
With all this help, Sorensen could be a great fit as the successor to Rivers. He still has plenty of time to develop, which could mean bad news for the other teams in the league. Don’t be surprised if after Rivers retires that the Chargers organization announces that Sorensen will be the new quarterback of the team.
Only time will tell.
Rick Reiff Jr.
Football is back.
Although there was the obvious stadium chatter among the fans, it was easy to just keep my eyes on the field — maybe except when I “accidentally” recorded that good-looking girl walking by — and concentrate on Charger football.
There was no tackling, the players were in shorts and the play calling was very vanilla.
All of that being said, without over-evaluating the guys after their first day, there were some takeaways after day one of training camp.
Here are some notes and observations.
– Many of the players, including Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones, started having fun as soon as they stepped out onto the practice field.
– There were ZERO players working on the side. For a team that seems to be missing crucial players due to injury quite often, it was incredibly refreshing.
– Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle were up to their usual jawing.
– Jason Verrett looked to be the fastest player out there.
– First offensive play was a completed drag route from Rivers to Ladarius Green.
– Melvin Gordon has a long way to go, but you can tell he has the tools to be special.
– The team rotated DJ Fluker and Joe Barksdale at right tackle in early phases of practice.
– Although Barksdale also saw some action at right guard, Johnnie Troutman was primarily out there with the first-team offense at the position.
– Stevie Johnson wears a weird hood on the outside of his helmet. Not sure why.
– Stevie made a highlight-reel catch on a play where Stevie Williams had solid coverage on him.
– Craig Mager realized that he is no longer at North Texas. He struggled often.
– Gates made a few solid plays. He had one toe-tapping grab on the sideline on a well-placed pass from Rivers.
– Kyle Emanuel was on the first-team for punt coverage.
– Denzel Perryman knocked down a pass over the middle.
– Jacoby Jones can run.
– Danny Woodhead looked quick and explosive. Nice to see him back.
– Similar to Woodhead, Branden Oliver was quick in and out of cuts.
– Craig Watts — in as a reserve left guard — had two straight plays in a row where he did a solid job opening holes in the running game, and good protection on a pass play.
– Orlando Franklin had a great practice. I am so glad he’s a Charger.
– Team speed has increased via acquired players and returning players coming back healthy.
– Titus Davis, a player I’ve written about a couple of times, looked good, catching the ball well.
– The cornerback position is deep at this point.
– Brad Sorensen wasn’t there for the early stages of practice, as his wife gave birth to their second child.
As mentioned above, it is way too premature to do anything other than throw out some first-day observations. But as long as we aren’t talking about the stadium situation, the team not extending Weddle’s contract, the Gates’ suspension or Rivers being hesitant to work out a long-term deal, I’m perfectly fine with throwing together some notes about today’s practice.
I’ll be there again tomorrow, and my major hope is the same that it is each day the Chargers practice: Just stay healthy.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers enter the 2015 season with quarterback Philip Rivers as the team’s signal caller. This will be the ninth consecutive year with Rivers at the helm. Despite all of the offseason trade talk surrounding him, the veteran passer seems primed and ready to lead this team going forward. Backing him up is Kellen Clemens, entering his second year with the Chargers and tenth season in the NFL. Brad Sorensen, a seventh-round draft choice in 2013, is back for the 2015 offseason with the team. Sorensen spent time on San Diego’s practice squad in 2014. The fourth and final quarterback currently on the roster is the recently acquired Chase Rettig.
Clearly, there is no positional debate at the quarterback spot in San Diego. But let’s take a look at what each player brings to the table.
The undisputed leader of the San Diego offense, Rivers has held himself and his teammates accountable to the highest of standards since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback. After battling behind some underwhelming offensive lines in recent years, Tom Telesco has added quality pieces and depth to the line to ensure that No. 17 has the necessary time to scan the defense and go through his progressions. When given an adequate amount of time, Rivers is as good as it gets.
Last year, and in years past, the running game has struggled without having a true homerun threat at running back. That is no longer the case with the Chargers having drafted Melvin Gordon. The former Wisconsin Badger has great speed, quickness and size, giving the offense a significant boost via the running game. A healthy Danny Woodhead will definitely be a sight for sore eyes. Acting as a safety valve for Rivers, Woodhead changes the dynamic of the Charger offense; not only in the running game, but especially in the passing game.
Already owning a good number of San Diego passing records, Rivers is on the precipice of obtaining a few more in 2015. If the offensive line and running game have improved as advertised, he’ll do just that. Being given more and more control over the play calling in the last few seasons, adding in the aforementioned aspects of the improved o-line and backfield, the 33-year-old should be able to have one of his best seasons to date.
The only concern I have entering the 2015 season regarding Philip Rivers, is whether or not the team re-signs him to a long-term contract extension. The hope is that will happen prior to the regular season beginning.
A journeyman of sorts at the quarterback spot, Clemens can be considered as a reliable backup signal caller if called upon to finish out a blow-out, or, God forbid, Rivers goes down for a game or two.
Clemens, 31, has been in the league since 2006, playing for the Jets, Texans, Rams and now the Chargers, starting 21 games over his career. As long as circumstances don’t force him into an extended number of appearances or starts, Clemens is a decent option as a backup to Rivers.
Sorensen still has a lot to learn about playing quarterback in the NFL. The 2013 seventh-round draft pick has spent some time on the practice squad in San Diego. Sorensen impressed some during the preseason of his rookie year. The problem with that is he was going against third- and fourth-string defenders. The 27-year-old — yes, he’s already 27 — would have to blow the minds of the Charger coaching staff in order to take over as the team’s reserve quarterback. That being said, he may be able to impress just enough to latch back onto the practice squad.
Not long after this year’s draft concluded, the Chargers signed undrafted rookie free agent Cole Stoudt out of Clemson. Sadly for Stoudt, he was released and replaced by quarterback Chase Rettig. Formerly an undrafted rookie free agent with the Packers, Rettig was a star at Boston College as a collegian. It is possible, due to Rettig having practice-squad eligibility available, that he could beat out Sorensen for a spot on the practice squad in San Diego. But he will find that a difficult road to travel, as Sorensen was drafted by Telesco.
Obviously the Chargers are set at quarterback. Rivers is primed to have a solid season with a better offensive line, running game and weapons in the passing game. Health all over the 53-man roster is paramount in this team’s success in 2015.
The San Diego Chargers defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, 12-9. However, unless you listened to simulcast on the Chargers Radio Network or lived outside the blackout area, you didn’t see it live. I did. At the stadium formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium. This game was the first of what I hope to be many games I hope to see in person this season.
I’ll spare you fine readers all the fun of getting to San Diego, the horror of living outside of San Diego is a story on its own. Like many fans who fly solo, I loath having to pay $20 to park at the Q. Fashion Valley Mall intimidates me because I take their threats of being towed seriously. Fortunately, a vacant lot adjacent to Fashion Valley provides free parking and a short hike to the trolley stop.
Of course, every other Chargers fan had the same idea so I reluctantly squeezed into a car. Then it hit me, the trolley door that is. A transit cop reminded me to clear the second step and I obliged. I bumped into the gentleman in front of me and assured him I was carrying a pencil in my pocket. In the next stops, the crowded car found creative ways to make room for those leaving the trolley and there were a few.
As the trolley approached the parking lot, many fans near me remarked how they should have parked there instead. I still believe that $20 is too much for a man flying solo. If I had three other fans in the car with me and we’re tailgating. . . . well, I suppose it is a better investment.
The first thing a fan will notice upon arrival at Qualcomm Stadium is the bronze stadium of Jack Murphy and a dog. Tonight, Gate K was closed and so Gate J had to do. With increased security measures, a female fan was turned away because the only bags permitted beyond the gates had to be transparent. I hope she didn’t take the trolley. I emptied my pockets and removed my Chargers cap, per the guard’s instructions. My paper ticket was scanned and I was inside. My $23 ticket meant a hike to the view section. Fortunately, an escalator provided a one-way ticket to the top. I could hear the National Anthem, so I had to hurry.
My seat was in section 61. I was in section 37 meaning I had to walk half-way around the stadium. As the sections passed me by, I couldn’t help but notice how empty the concessions were. When I located my section and stopped for a beer, I found out why. The Super Chargers Dog cost $8 and a Coors Light served in an aluminum bottle ran $9. And how much of that goes to the team?
The announced crowd of over 51,000 was treated to a game where both teams seemed to be allergic to the end zone. Yes, with the exception of Nick Novak, Mike Scifres, and Mike Windt (he’s the long snapper), it was the final audition of about 22 men who were on the roster bubble. Many fans who sat around me confessed that if it wasn’t for GroupOn they wouldn’t be there. One college-aged woman who I assumed didn’t watch football cheered on the Cardinals in an attempt to upset her friends. I spent a chuck of the game explaining the rules to her.
With the game tied at nine in the middle of the third quarter, the fans demonstrated how bored they were when they decided to make a wave. Of course, they do the wave with the Chargers driving down the field (when the crowd should be on its best behavior). I refused to participate. It made six laps before petering out.
The wave has been in existence since 1981 (do a Google search and you’ll find another reason to hate Oakland). Yes, the phenomenon has been alive for almost 33 years. I repeat, the wave started at an Oakland A’s game on October 15, 1981 and have been a distraction ever since. On Thursday night, this particular wave wouldn’t have been so bad if the Cardinals had the ball instead.
By the end of the third quarter, it was pretty clear that Brad Sorensen was not going to do enough to make the team and it was time to beat the crowds to the trolley station. Since every loyal Chargers fan wants to add to his collection of apparel, I thought I’d check out the Chargers team store which was located at Gate A. I’m sad to report it’s not there. However, the good news is the store has moved to bigger location behind Gate G. As a guy who thought that the best place to buy Chargers apparel was Sports Fantasy, I was blown away. Honestly, I’m not hard to please. I did have a difficult time justifying why I should pay almost $300 for a sewn on genuine jerseys. Also, I won’t be talking about unauthorized jerseys that can be purchased from China (another story for another day). Perhaps I’ll return when it is open on a non-game day.
The trolley ride back wasn’t too bad (minus one individual who forgot his manners and hit a bunch of riders with his bike). The crowded trolley thinned out at Hazard Center since I can only assume the owners here don’t have a problem with fans using their parking and taking the trolley to the stadium.
For a moment, I thought the stadium was adequate and didn’t need fixing. Of course, with the price of fielding a championship caliber team always going up that viewpoint won’t fly with the constant threat coming from the north. For this season, I’ll believe that the Chargers have as good as chance as any team in bringing the Lombardi Trophy to San Diego. I’ll enjoy as games as I can afford at Qualcomm Stadium.
My only wish for now is that fans make noise when the opponent has the ball, helps the offense by staying quiet, and if at all possible, lower the price of beer.
Finally, call me David Downer, but kill the wave. It had its moment but after all these years I think we’re too busy live tweeting to even bother participating.
The day that Charger fans had been waiting for has finally come and gone. In the words of Mike McCoy during last night’s postgame press conference, ” There were some negative things and some positive things that can be taken from the game. But, it is the first preseason game.”
I would like to reiterate the last portion of his statement. It was only the first preseason game.
Before you induct Branden Oliver into the Hall of Fame, and before you act as though Kellen Clemens is the next savior at signal caller for the Charger offense, please take heed of the fact that there is very little that can be drawn from the first preseason game of the year.
I asked McCoy during the same press conference about playing against a team other than your own and he basically said that is what we were wanting to do as a staff, team and organization. Everyone was excited and glad to be lining up against a team wearing different helmets.
There were certainly some highlights last night that had several players deserving kudos. Below I am listing my takeaways from the victory of the Dallas Cowboys last night at Qualcomm stadium.
– In an effort to get it out-of-the-way, Branden Oliver looked solid. He racked up 64 yards on only 7 carries and managed to find the endzone on an impressive 14-yard run where he carried the last defender 4 yards with him in for the score. Additionally, and this needs to be said, he is not, I repeat, not Darren Sproles. I believe he is about 20 pounds heavier. He has quick feet – similar to Sproles, but not as quick – and he is a bit more physical. He runs with a very low center of gravity and his cuts are impressive. But, his foot-quickness is not on the same level as that of Sproles made popular. He’s looked good in camp and he also looked good last night.
– Dontrelle Inman continues to impress. Despite a fantastic showing of surprising speed on that 70-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Clemens, he beat a guy that was just signed by Dallas that had yet to practice with the team. He is another player that has impressed throughout the offseason. He has a big frame and capable hands. Inman is, without a doubt, going to continue to make a strong push for a spot on the 53-man roster.
– The Charger quarterbacks were very accurate. When looking at the trio of Philip Rivers, Clemens and Brad Sorensen, only two incompletions were thrown all night. Both of those were by Sorensen as both Rivers and Clemens finished with 100% completion percentage on the night.
The fact of the matter that remains, as it did prior to the game, if Rivers goes down it’s all over but the crying. If you want to crown the backup quarterbacks as capable starters, then crown their asses. <— Dennis Green voice
– Jerry Attaochu is fast. Really fast. Even though he lost contain due to biting on a play-action rollout, he was still able to turn and make the tackle after a minimal gain. His speed will be an asset to John Pagano’s defense and the quicker he learns the defensive scheme the sooner he’ll be making plays on a consistent basis.
– Ryan Mathews is fine and I would rather him lose a ball in the first preseason game than in any of the games that truly count. The man had only two fumbles last year after having over 300 touches. I have an article coming out this afternoon stating why I believe he’ll have the best year of his career in 2014. So, keep calm and realize the talent this man has. Do not forget, last year he ran as physically as any running back in the NFL and was a key cog to a successful Charger offense.
– Lawrence Guy suffered a shoulder injury after the devastating hit he put on Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden. To add insult to injury, Weeden managed to throw a touchdown pass on the very same play. At this time, I am not sure of the severity of the injury. I saw Guy in the locker room speaking to Coach McCoy while wearing a sling. He provides valuable depth on the defensive line and it could mean trouble for San Diego if he is out for an extended amount of time.
– Knowing this is the preseason, and the playcalling on defense will remain vanilla until the regular season, I wasn’t too surprised by the first-team defense’s inability to impose their will on the Dallas offense. The team did finish with three total sacks as both Thomas Keiser and Colton Underwood each had a sack while Reggie Walker and Cordarro Law shared a sack to end the game with a half a sack a piece. It is paramount that the team is able to generate a pass rush seeing that they play in a division with Peyton Manning. The lack of of a pass rush in 2013 must be remedied this year if the team wishes to contend in a tough AFC West.
– Darrell Stuckey for the Pro bowl will be something that I am going to begin lobbying for very early in the season. He’s a beast and he made a couple of plays that should remind fans of why he is so valuable on special teams.
– Craig Watts Jr. looked good and it is obvious the game is slowing down for him. While playing on both the offensive line, and some of the special teams units, he was impressive. He has improved each and every time that I have watched him. There is a steep learning curve going from West Texas A&M to the NFL. But with Craig’s intelligence and very strong work ethic, I stand by my prediction that he will be a San Diego Charger in 2014 and beyond.
– Marion Grice racked up 35 yards on 14 carries. If you take away his 18-yard run, he had a tough night. It’s not realistic to take out a play that happened, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. He also added a 4-yard reception as well.
– Both the kick and punt return games were pedestrian on limited opportunities. The three returns netted a total of 19 yards. The Chargers have not had a threat in the return game since the days of the Lightning Bug.
– The redzone offense is still a work in progress. This was also touched on by McCoy. It is too early to be concerned but when the regular season begins, I have no doubt that everyone will be paying close attention to how the teams performs inside the 20.
That is what I saw during last night’s game. I am curious to hear what you took away from the game. Let me know by leaving your comments below.
Thanks a lot for reading.
As we all know, Philip Rivers is, and will be, the only quarterback that people are wanting to see take snaps from under center for the foreseeable future. If for some terrible reason he were to go down, the 2014 season will go down with him. Despite the fan’s adoration for 2013 7th round draft selection, Brad Sorensen, he is not the answer to the Chargers being successful for the time being. It goes without saying that the addition of Kellen Clemens is not the answer to San Diego being successful should the unthinkable happen.
With the possibility of the team carrying four tight ends and four running backs on offense, the number of roster spots, solely when looking at the offensive side of the ball, are going to be limited. And that doesn’t even account for the defensive unit and depth opposite of the offense.
Knowing that the team is currently carrying three signal callers, it seems fair to ask whether or not that is necessary. Rivers has proven to be very reliable in the health department, so to speak. His ability to stay healthy has been quite remarkable. He has an incredible streak of games played without missing even one contest. Among active players, Philip is second only to Eli Manning – 151 consecutive starts – with 128 consecutive starts. If you include playoff starts, Rivers has started 137 consecutive games. That is a stat that is certainly worth noting.
The acquisition of Clemens was not a slight to 2nd year quarterback Sorensen. But after the departure of Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst, the Bolts replaced him with Kellen Clemens. It’s not that the organization doesn’t like what Sorensen brings to the table, but it does prove that they are not ready to move forward with him as the number two.
As mentioned above, if Rivers were to be injured for an extended amount of time, the San Diego Charger offense would be up “that” creek without a paddle. So, considering the need for depth on offense, defense and special teams, is it necessary to carry 3 quarterbacks? For the purpose of this article, I’ll leave that question to you.
There is a poll below. Place your vote and specify why you voted the way you did by supporting your vote with a comment below.
Thanks a lot for reading and voting. Feel free to support the reasoning behind your vote by leaving a comment below.
Everyone and their dog has a mock draft out these days. The Greg One is not one to be left out of the fun, so here it is, people. I’ll be adding one more to the ever growing list of seven-round educated (and not-so educated) guesses called a mock draft. I have been keeping an eye on prospects and listening to the talking heads on tv and radio for some perspective. Mind you, these are the same pundits who predicted the Chargers would finish at the bottom of the AFC West last season while your friend The Greg One correctly predicted the Chargers record within one game (my guess was 10-6) and the Chargers making the playoffs when none of the ‘experts’ would. Sometimes the best information comes from someone close, passionate about their team but also sees their team realistically. Suck on that ESPN!
Also keep in mind that in my 2013 Chargers mock draft I was one pick away from being dead on. I had the Chargers choosing Alabama guard Chance Warmack as the Chargers selection and he was chosen one pick before the Chargers selected, going to Tennessee with the 10th pick right before the Chargers picked at 11. The Chargers took Alabama right tackle DJ Fluker and had a great season. Still, I had the position (offensive line) and even the school (Alabama) correct, which is more than Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay did. Now that I’ve built my pundit resume to impossible, only a dead on pick will do kind of level, here is my Chargers seven round mock draft!
Round One: Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame. The Chargers have a gaping hole at defensive tackle after the departure of Cam Thomas this offseason. The Chargers are left with Sean Lissemore and the injured Kwame Geathers as the only nose tackles on the roster. There is no one of note left on the free agent market which makes this the biggest priority to fill through the draft, slightly ahead of the secondary. CB’s Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard and Bradley Roby will be long gone as will safeties Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Calvin Pryor. Nix is the best pure nose tackle in the draft and will be reunited with teammate Manti Te’o, easing his transition to the team. Renewing the chemistry they had in college will be an added benefit on the field.
Round Two: Kyle Van Noy DE/OLB BYU. The Chargers are keeping a close eye on Van Noy, who has had a visit with the team and has said he would love to play for the Chargers. Van Noy is a high motor, disruptive force blitzing from the edge. His specialty is rushing the passer but drops into coverage very well and is solid against the run. Van Noy will be a great addition from a depth standpoint and has outstanding veterans around him to learn from. Even with offenses designing plays to go away from him, Van Noy logged 68 tackles with 17.5 for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and seven batted balls.
Round Three: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama. Kouandjio stock is dropping after a sub-par showing at the combine including a failed physical. His surgically repaired knee has received a clean bill of health from the esteemed Dr. James Andrews. The Chargers will most likely trade up, sacrificing a late round pick (6 or 7) to get high enough in the order to make the selection, but taking advantage of another first round grade talent will be too impossible to ignore. The Chargers again reunite teammates as Kouandjio becomes the bookend on the left side to D.J. Fluker on the right side of the offensive line.
Round Four: The Chargers trade their pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the rights to wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The troubled wide receiver was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft after two seasons as an All-American receiver for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Blackmon is currently suspended following his second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy and was recently cited for a one-car incident when he ran his SUV into a guard rail and landed in a ditch last month. Fortunately, there was no alcohol involved which would’ve lengthened his suspension. Blackmon can apply to be reinstated before the start of the 2014 season but chances are the Jaguars may be looking to rid the locker room of his presence.
A change of scenery and a fresh start with a new, contending team can be the perfect scenario for the 24-year old Blackmon. A bona fide deep threat, he will provide the perfect complement to Keenan Allen. Blackmon was only making 1.2 million so a new contract will be easy for GM Tom Telesco to negotiate. If the opportunity is there, Telesco should make the deal.
Round Five: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon. Telesco wants to improve team speed and you won’t find many in this draft faster than De’Anthony Thomas. At Oregon’s pro day Thomas posted a 4.34 and 4.35 40 yard dash times. Thomas is electric in the return game as he had four return touchdowns for Oregon in his three-year career. Thomas was a standout member of Oregon’s track and field team anchoring the 4×100 relay for the team that made it to the 2012 NCAA Championships. Thomas is a great 10-15 carries per game running back but does not have the body to be an every down back. He can be a specialty back in the vein of Darren Sproles or Danny Woodhead as he is a great receiver out of the backfield and operates best in space. Speaking of whom, Woodhead is on the second year of his two-year contract with the Chargers. Thomas would be a great insurance policy/heir apparent if Woodhead gets injured or leaves in free agency next season.
Round Six: Terrance Mitchell, DB Oregon. Mitchell’s stock dropped at the draft combine when he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash time. Mitchell is a little undersized at 5’11 but makes up for it with impressive ball skills and instincts. Mitchell stared 38 games for the Ducks and played in high-profile games against the best receivers the Pac-12 had to offer. Mitchell had five interceptions last season as a season-long starter. Mitchell’s excels in press coverage and knows how to use his hands and body in coverage. Mitchell is a playmaker who will also be a valuable contributor on special teams.
Round Seven: Michael Sam, DE Missouri. Sam was the story of the day for about a week when he came out, making him the first openly gay player to take the field in the NFL. However, the story didn’t do anything to his draft stock and he has been forgotten amidst all the draft hoopla. Sam would be a fantastic bargain here as the Chargers are woefully thin all across the defensive line. Like Te’o the year before him, San Diego will provide shelter from the harsh media scrutiny of other NFL cities and allow Sam to thrive.
The Chargers most likely won’t have a seventh round pick. I expect the seventh round pick to be used in a trade up scenario or in the Blackmon trade. Similarly, a team like the Ravens or Steelers will take Sam in an earlier round. However, he will be a late day three pick if he gets chosen at all. If he’s there the Chargers will take him but if he’s gone and the pick is not traded the Chargers will more than likely stash a quarterback like they did last season with Brad Sorensen.
I only took one defensive back because the Chargers will also gain the services of defensive back Stevie Williams, who was chosen with a fifth round pick in last season’s draft. Williams missed all season with a torn pectoral muscle.
The (mostly) unintentional coupling of past teammates will only serve to improve team chemistry and provide a mentor-like relationship in the cases of Fluker and Kouandjio; Te’o and Nix. The team adds valued speed with Blackmon and Thomas and the defense gets much-needed depth with a handful of blue chip prospects.
What do you think Boltfam?
The Greg One
The 2013 season has come to a close and the off-season has begun. A nine win season, combined with a playoff victory at Cincinnati, has the Chargers fan base excited once again. Head Coach Mike McCoy and General Manager Tom Telesco have the Bolts franchise on the fast track to reopening a championship window that, under former Head Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith, seemed to have slammed shut. Looking back at the season, one could argue- with a little more maturity by the players and coaches- the Bolts could have finished with at least 12 wins. Some early season stumbles against Houston, Tennessee and Washington handed the Chargers some painful last minute losses. Conversely, the Bolts finished the season like studs by winning 5 of their last 6 games – beating the Chiefs twice and the Broncos in Denver during that stretch. To say things are on the upswing under McCoy and Telesco would be an understatement. With this in mind, I humbly submit the first article in my six part series documenting my thoughts and feelings regarding the state of the franchise.
The 10-year veteran had a rebirth under Mike McCoy in 2013. Recently departed Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s plan was to balance the offense and ask Philip to make quicker decisions in the passing game. “Take what the defense is giving us” was the mantra. Rivers seemed to flourish with this approach and his statistics dramatically improved across the board from the previous season. He completed 69.5% of his passes finishing with 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. There is no question that Rivers still has plenty of fire in his belly and strength in his arm to compete at an elite level through the remainder of his current contract, which expires in 2016. He remains the unquestioned leader of the team.
“Clipboard Jesus” as he is affectionately known by Bolts fans, has been Philip’s right hand man on the Chargers sideline throughout most of Rivers’ career. They bounce thoughts off of one another throughout games and it seems to help Rivers maintain his focus. The fact of the matter, however, is that Charlie’s contract is up and we have what appears to be a better back-up option in 1st year quarterback Brad Sorensen. Whitehurst’s only real game action occurs in the preseason, so Telesco will need to make a tough decision regarding Philip’s security blanket. Will Charlie accept a significantly lower contract offer to stay in San Diego? I have a feeling that’s what it will take for him to be in a Bolts uniform come this fall.
The rookie signal caller from Southern Utah opened a lot of eyes last preseason by making big play after big play with both his arm and his legs. Sorensen’s agility in the pocket and his ability to run when necessary was exciting. He made numerous throws downfield in the clutch under pressure, all with accuracy and zip. Sure, those throws were made against the opponent’s 2nd and 3rd stringers, but he had 3rd stringers blocking for him too. Charger fans haven’t seen this kind of mobility since a little guy named Doug Flutie donned lightning bolts. There is no question that Brad needs coaching up, but he seems to have that something that playmakers have to have. He’ll give McCoy and Telesco plenty to contemplate as they try to decide what they want to do in regards to Whitehurst.
There is no bigger question mark on the Chargers roster than Mathews. Coming into the season, many experts questioned if Ryan was the long-term answer at halfback for the Bolts. With a long history of fumbling and an inability to stay healthy, it seemed as though Mathews was on his way out of San Diego. Former Head Coach Norv Turner publicly questioned Ryan’s field vision and heart, while former General Manager A.J. Smith boldly stated he would be “somebody else’s fumbler” if his play didn’t improve. Those assessments may have been warranted at the time but I doubt they did much to help solidify a young back’s confidence in himself. 2013 presented Mathews with a fresh start. He embraced the new coaching style of Mike McCoy and had a very solid season in the Whisenhunt offense. Mathews ran for 1,255 yards and added another 189 yards as a receiver. He scored 7 total touchdowns and ran the ball with authority all season. He remained relatively healthy and showed toughness by trying to play through a high ankle sprain in the playoffs. It was a season that showed everyone what he is capable of. Is he the long-term answer after all? That is the million dollar question…
Ronnie’s contract is up this off-season. He has been a decent back-up over the past couple of seasons. His contribution this past season included 157 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. His value has dropped because of the stellar play of Danny Woodhead. The thought heading into the season was that the team ought to hang onto Brown due to questions regarding Woodhead’s small frame being able to take the pounding as a full-time starter if Mathews went down with an injury. As the season progressed, and Woodhead’s workload increased, it became apparent that those concerns were unfounded. Unless we can sign Brown cheaply, I doubt he’ll be on the roster next season.
Coming over from New England, Woodhead was pegged as “the guy who would fill the void left by Darren Sproles”. Sproles is a remarkable, multi-faceted threat out of the backfield. Rivers himself admitted being “depressed” when the Bolts let Sproles sign with New Orleans. Woodhead inherited these high expectations and accepted them from day one in San Diego. It didn’t take long for Danny to rise up and do Sproles-like things on the field. In addition to being small in size (he is listed at 5′ 8″ on the Chargers website), he has the same quickness and low center-of-gravity that Sproles possesses. Danny’s agility while running makes it difficult for defenders to lay a solid lick on him. Lastly, Woodhead has become as big a threat in the passing game as Sproles was as a Charger. Looking at Danny’s 2013 statistics, his dual-threat nature becomes very apparent. He rushed for 429 yards, averaging a respectable 4 yards per carry, and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. He hauled in 76 receptions for 605 yards and 6 touchdowns! He also contributed on special teams averaging 21.8 yards per kickoff return. He was the steal of last year’s free agency crop and a rather large feather in Tom Telesco’s hat.
McClain had another uneventful season. There are few “people-in-the-know” out there that would deny his blocking prowess. The fact of the matter is that most NFL offenses are going away from the traditional two-back set. Being the old-school football purist I am, I was really excited when we signed McClain a couple years back thinking that it would allow Mathews a real shot at becoming what we all envisioned he would be. In reality, his impact has been minimal to say the least. In 2013, Le’Ron carried the ball just 11 times, gaining 32 total yards. Does that level of production justify the 2.5 million dollars he is scheduled to make this upcoming season? If he is unwilling to restructure his deal in some way, I have a hard time visualizing him on our roster in the fall. His cap space will be too valuable as Telesco moves forward rebuilding the team.
Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for part two of this series… Your comments are always welcomed!
Take heart Charger fans – the Bolt is back!!