I recently had an opportunity to visit Murphy Canyon to watch the Chargers in Training Camp. I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding a few players that stood out that afternoon.
Philip Rivers: Rivers looked in mid-season form. Being only a few feet away from the field. You can hear the tight spirals he delivered 25 yards down the field, as you heard the snap of the pads off of Eddie Royal making a tip toe catch on the sideline.
Rivers showed good accuracy and a powerful arm throughout the day.
The Chargers offense worked on the 2-minute drill throughout the day. Rivers had a nice deep pass over the right side of the field as he found Antonio Gates open for a gorgeous over the shoulder-catch.
Ronnie Brown: What can Brown do for you? A lot! I never realized how big Brown is. Watching the individual running back drills, I really appreciated the size and power of Ronnie Brown. He has the best hands of the group and is extremely powerful and agile for a man his size. If I didn’t know any better, I thought I was watching a 25-year-old running back. Brown definitely has a lot of tread left on the tires. I anticipate him having a big year for the Bolts. I’m still hoping we can run a bit of Wildcat with him close to the goal line. Having Gates, Mathews, Woodhead as weapons, Brown can make the Wildcat work in San Diego.
Danny Woodhead: Woodhead is built a little thicker than I realized after only watching him on video. His quickness reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles. Woodhead made a number of plays out of the backfield. Woodhead caught multiple Rivers’ short passes, consistently juking out the first defender and running to daylight. Woodhead has a great burst and is difficult to contain. He should be a key playmaker on this offense as linebackers will have a difficult time covering him out of the backfield.
Danario Alexander: Without a doubt, Rivers targets Alexander. He did it consistently throughout the afternoon practice. On a 3rd and 14 play during the 2-minute drill, Rivers found Alexander at the left seam for a successful 1st down conversion. Alexander was open all day long as he ran sharp routes, and consistently found the soft spot in the coverage. Alexander caught everything thrown his way. You can tell that Rivers has full confidence in him and will be targeting him.
Dark horse roster spot: I absolutely love receiver Mike Willie. Big number 10 is tall, thick, fast and has hands like glue. He made multiple one-handed catches of Charlie Whitehurst’s passes, raising ooh’s and ahh’s from the spectators. The kid likes to talk and backs his plate up. He is too athletic and too good of a talent to hide away on the practice squad. I’m pushing for Willie to make it on the 53-man active roster.
Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green: The veteran and the 2nd year player are dominant. A perfect balance of a wise veteran who has plenty of juice left in Gates, and an up and coming athletic Tight End in Green, that has the soft hands of a receiver. I am looking forward to seeing Green’s contribution to the offense this year. Love to see both of these guys on the field at the same time. Match up nightmare for defenses. Rivers is smiling ear to ear.
Dwight Freeney: Utilizing his patented spin move. Freeney was a menace to the offensive line, disrupting rookie right tackle DJ Fluker, as he ended up in the face of Rivers consistently. Freeney looks good playing the outside backer role, as he continues to rush the passer and disrupt the offensive backfield.
Corey Liuget & Kendall Reyes: These two anchors on the D-Line are young, strong and bring athleticism from the heart of the defense. They are very active up front and a combination of their speed and strength placed a lot of pressure on the Chargers offensive line throughout the afternoon. I’m anticipating a great year from the front 3 this year. Don’t sleep on NT Kwame Geathers. He is all of the 6’6, 335 pound mountain of a man. He is country strong and athletic for his large frame. The rotation of Geathers and big Cam Thomas on the nose will keep this front fresh and vibrant throughout the game.
Eric Weddle and Donald Butler: Definitely the two leaders of the defense and arguably the most talented defensive playmakers on the Charger squad. They made their presence known as they flew to the ball and showcased the aggressive mentality needed to play that side of the ball.
Manti Te’o: Te’o was tested a few times as he covered tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Te’o did a pretty good job of defending passes directed his way. He did not see him make any spectacular plays, but pretty much had a steady afternoon.
It was an incredible opportunity to watch Chargers practice. The speed of the game can only be appreciated when you are that close to the action. If you ever get an opportunity to make the trek to San Diego, visit Murphy Canyon with the family and make sure to stay until the end in order grab a few autographs.
The fan in me is making this a difficult piece to write. The football realist in me sees an opportunity to get something in return for a player that might be in jeopardy of losing his starting spot to an up-and-coming player.
The Chargers have quite the situation at the Wide Receiver position in 2013. The emergence of Danario Alexander ( in limited time during the 2012 season ) has solidified him as the number one receiver in the Charger offense. Tight End Antonio Gates may be the number one option in the passing game, but DX is slated to be the number one Wide Receiver.
After that, it would seem as though everything is up in the air. And that goes for the positioning of the entire receiving corp after #84. It might be assumed by some that Malcom Floyd is guaranteed to start opposite Alexander. But when you listen to any of the talking heads out at Chargers Park, Vincent Brown’s name is constantly being brought up as one of the most impressive players at any position on the field.
The question then becomes, should the Bolts be finding every way possible to get Brown as many opportunities to get the ball in his hands? Starting him would obviously be the best way to do that.
So where does that leave Floyd?
Malcom Floyd has wowed Charger fans for years with his acrobatic catches. He has built a very strong rapport with San Diego’s signal caller. Philip Rivers’ first career touchdown pass was to M-80 back when Floyd wore the number 13. He had yet to even earn the moniker M-80. On a sour note, Floyd has only managed to stay healthy for 16 games in a season once in his career.
Despite the fact that I would hate to see him go, now might be the best time to try to obtain a solid draft pick in return for the 10 year veteran.
After losing linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jonas Mouton to torn ACL’s, the Bolts are very familiar with this time of the year being accompanied by injuries. As you look around the NFL, there are teams that have suffered losses to their wide receiving groups. The Philadelphia Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin for the year. Shortly after that they had his replacement,Riley Cooper, commit what I consider to be an offense that would lead to him being removed from the team if I were the General Manager. They have an obvious need at the position.
If you look at the Seattle Seahawks, San Diego’s first preseason opponent, they just found out that they will be without newly acquired Percy Harvin for the next 3 to 4 months. The two teams worked together to send Charlie Whitehurst from San Diego to Seattle a few years back. We all know how that turned out. Seattle is another team that would benefit from a move that involved Malcom Floyd.
One can also see a team like the Baltimore Ravens being interested in acquiring Floyd. The Ravens have hopes that Super bowl standout, Jacoby Jones, could fill their need as the starting Wide Receiver opposite Torrey Smith. Jones failed his conditioning test this offseason and has already shown as a Houston Texan that he is more of a special-teams player. But perhaps this is his time to shine on offense. I would tend to lean toward them looking to upgrade the position.
With the NFL having morphed into this high-flying, passing league, even teams that you believe to be set at the Wide Receiver spot could be willing to kick the tires on a trade to bring in an established receiver.
Is the time ripe for the picking to attempt to move one of Philip’s favorite weapons?
The logjam at Wide Receiver at Chargers Park is a good problem to have in a lot of ways. When you look at the depth chart – Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem, Richard Goodman, Dan DePalma, Mike Willie, Deon Butler and Luke Tasker – there are quite a few options in putting together a unit that can find success in 2013 and beyond.
But then there is the frightening question mark regarding Vincent Brown. Is he injury-prone? As of right now, Brown has missed three straight practices sandwiched around an off day. We are all familiar with the broken ankle he suffered during the August 18th preseason game versus Dallas last year. He has been hampered by hamstring injuries in the past as well.
I only bring all of this up to provide the other side to argument. Perhaps, despite all of the potential that Vincent Brown has, this conversation about him breaking out is a bit premature.
So, this is where you come in. Below is a poll that allows you to voice your opinion on the matter. Make sure to place your vote and then tell us why you voted the way you did by leaving a comment below.
Thanks a lot for reading and voting.
The 2013 Chargers have focused on rebuilding the offensive line in order to protect Rivers and provide him with the time necessary to work efficiently out of the pocket. Moreover, Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt will have plenty of weapons for Rivers to utilize. The following is a breakdown of the 2013 group of receivers for Rivers.
Danario Alexander: A mid-season pick-up in 2012 due to instability and injury in the receiving depth chart, Alexander blew it up with 37 receptions for 658 yards and 7 touchdowns, including two multi-score games (against Denver and Pittsburgh) in only 10 games. Alexander is penciled in as the opening day started as the X receiver in 2013. His 6’5 frame reminds me of the imposing Vincent Jackson. Alexander makes the tough catch and is courageous over the middle. Alexander has speed to burn and the size to make an impact as a blocker downfield. He needs to minimize the easy drops and continue to stay hungry as a playmaker. The largest obstacle is remaining healthy. Alexander had a promising career as a member of the St Louis Rams before multiple knee injuries stalled his young career. Alexander needs to match his performance from last year and continue to build rapport with Rivers.
Malcom Floyd: M-80 racked up 814 yards and 5 touchdowns on 56 receptions (career high). The 6’5 Floyd has always provided the spectacular and gutty effort. The only drawback is that Floyd tends to take the big hit and gets nagging injuries that affect his status on Sundays. Floyd did a good job of staying on the field in 2013 as he appeared in 14 games. He will likely play opposite of Alexander as a starter, or be a match-up nightmare as the starting slot receiver. Rivers will continue to trust M-80 as he will be targeted on Sundays.
Vincent Brown: The 3rd year receiver’s much anticipated 2012 season was cut short early in the pre-season when Brown suffered a broken ankle after scoring a touchdown. After missing the entire 2012 season, Brown has recovered well and looks poised to grab on to a starting spot opposite of Alexander. Brown saw limited action in 2011 where he scored two touchdowns on 19 receptions. His 5’11, 185 pound frame won’t intimidate defensive backs, but his receiving and run-after-catch skills will make him an impact weapon.
Keenan Allen: A 3rd round steal in the 2013 draft, the UC Berkley playmaker was thought to be an easy 1st round draft pick. However, his late injury in 2012, along with an un-impressive pro-day, contributed to plummeting his draft stock. Allen will enter training camp with a huge chip on his shoulder. He will compete for playing time and rotation. His size allows him to play on the outside as well as the slot. The question will remain on the health of his knee and how soon he regains his game changing speed. Allen is poised to become an excellent pro in the NFL.
Robert Meachem: The 2012 free agent pick-up was supposed to soften the blow of Vincent Jackson’s departure to the Buccaneers. Meachem got off to a slow start in 2013 and his playmaking abilities never truly materialized. He had a great showing in week 5 against the Saints as he scored two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the highlight ends there as Meachem had an ugly rest of the season, including a wide-open drop of a Rivers’ potential TD-bomb in Cleveland. The prior coaching staff clearly showed their distrust and had Meachem sit on the sideline the rest of the year. I’ve watched Meachem perform admirably catching passes from Drew Brees as a member of the high-flying Saints squad. I still envision him making an impact with Rivers. At 6’2 and 215 pounds, Meachem has the size and speed to play inside and outside. I’m curious to see if Whisenhunt and Rivers will trust Meachem and use him in this rotation. Meachem’s success as a Charger is contingent upon him re-gaining his confidence, and stepping back on the field fighting to prove that he is a viable playmaker.
Eddie Royal: Much like Meachem, Royal was brought in to help curb the loss of blood due to Jackson’s departure. However, due to injuries and inconsistencies, Royal never materialized as a viable weapon for Rivers. Even though he played in 10 games, Royal was limited to 234 yards on 23 receptions with 1 touchdown. Entering his 6th season, the 27 year-old Royal has to prove that he can regain the high-caliber of play he achieved in his early years with the Broncos. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he was a late cut in August.
Mike Willie: I’m eager to watch Willie in his second camp with the Chargers. Willie graduated from the practice squad in week 16 last year and played in two games. He showed well in the pre-season last year and can be another gem. Don’t forget that Floyd lived on the practice squad until he finally made the jump to the active roster. I see Willie in the same mold. He is big (6’2, 220) and likes to make the spectacular catches. I really like this young man’s potential and am pulling for him for the last receiver spot.
Antonia Gates: At age 33, Gates enters his 11th season as the Chargers go-too guy. Gates finally had a relatively injury-free season in 2012 where he racked up 538 yards, on 49 grabs, with 7 touchdowns. Rivers loves to find Gates downfield and their rapport will continue in 2013. As long as Gates remains healthy, he will remain to be targeted by Rivers.
Ladarius Green: Ok, I like this young man a lot. I saw the 6’6, 240 pound Green sprint down the field for a 31-yard gain after a short pass from Rivers in a week 2 contest against the Titans. He is a fluid runner with good hands. After a year of relatively non-use, Green has built up his frame and strength entering his second season. I’m hoping McCoy and Whisenhunt will recognize this young man’s talent and high potential and have him contribute on a more regular basis. This kid can be a difference maker.
Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown:
These two backs are special. They are excellent receivers out of the backfield and will be crucial players on third-down. Woodhead had a career high 40-receptions from Tom Brady for 446 yards and three receiving touchdowns in 2012. The 31 year-old Brown was the go-to-guy for Rivers on third downs as he hauled in 46 catches of his own for 220 yards. Brown didn’t score touchdowns, but he kept the drives alive with his crucial receptions on third downs.
The stable is full, and its time to unleash the weapons. Rivers should exceed 30 touchdowns with this group. After a lackluster showing in 2012, I expect a two- game differential with this personnel. In my opinion, a nine-win season, with a possible playoff appearance, and a top-15 offense is not out of the question for Rivers and his stable of weapons.
When looking at the current state of the Charger roster, it is easy to see that the team is not lacking in options at the Wide Receiver position. The Bolts are currently equipped with 11 players to snag balls from Philip Rivers and the other Quarterbacks in camp. This turns out to be the deepest group on the entire ball club.
It is common knowledge that all 11 players will not remain on the team by the time the season rolls around. Let’s start by taking a look at them.
Danario Alexander – A lock for the roster. He will be the team’s number one Wide Receiver. Lots of excitement surrounding what he can do with a full offseason with Rivers. Not to mention a full slate of 16 games. Needs to stay healthy.
Malcom Floyd – Despite the thoughts of some “experts,” he isn’t going anywhere this season. He is splitting some starting reps. Floyd has only played 16 games once in his 10 year career.
Vincent Brown – He is the one sharing starting reps with Floyd. A healthy Brown is a huge addition to the Charger wide receiving corps. His route running and ability to attack the ball make him a serious weapon for the new Charger offense.
Keenan Allen – The third round pick out of Cal is expected to be a Charger for a long time. He’ll contribute, even as a rookie.
Robert Meachem – We all know why he’s here and will definitely be a Charger in 2013. Let’s hope he can make a few plays. Being that I was at the game in Cleveland last year, even typing his name makes me sick to my stomach.
Eddie Royal – This is the part where skepticism starts to wander into the equation. He could be cut due to numbers at the position. He has been starting in the slot. Royal is capable in both kick and punt return duties. Those traits could save his job.
Richard Goodman – He’s a solid Kick Returner and but return punts. His play as a Gunner on special teams might keep him hanging around. But the fact that he has been unable to play at Wide Receiver will not help his status on the team.
Mike Willie – He still has some practice squad eligibility. There is a chance he sticks for that reason. He has the build of a Rivers’ kind of target.
Deon Butler – The former Seahawk can fly. But it might be safe to assume that he is a training camp body. Probably will be cut at some point.
Dan DePalma – He is an interesting guy. When with the New York Giants, the team used him to simulate Wes Welker in their preparation for the Super bowl against the New England Patriots. The question is whether or not he has any practice squad eligibilty left. He was picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2011 by the New York Jets. I don’t think he was ever on either team’s 53 man roster. That would mean he would have a third year of eligibility on a practice squad. ( I am waiting to hear back from Kevin Acee regarding his eligibility for practice squad.) Having Wes Welker in the division would make DePalma a nice piece to keep on the PS seeing as how he has studied Welker extensively.
Luke Tasker – He is the son of one of my favorite non-Chargers of all time, Steve Tasker. If he is even half of the special teamer that his father was then I expect him to stick on the PS. Not sure how much work he’ll have at wide out, if any at all.
The Wide receiver group will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. The four major contributors seem set in Alexander, Floyd, Brown and Allen. Additionally, as mentioned above, the team will see what they can get out of Meachem. But after that it’s all up for grabs. The team has less than a half-a-million in salary cap space. It is safe to say this group will be evaluated closely to see where some savings could be had.
How many weapons at the Wide Receiver spot should the team keep? Who do you think will get the almighty axe and be cut prior to the season?
Let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks a lot for reading.
As we’ve talked about all offseason, the holes on San Diego’s roster are all over the place. There is little debate as to where the Chargers need help. The disagreements come in when you talk about when these needs should be addressed in the NFL draft.
Although the Bolts will not be able to fill all of their holes via the draft, they can take care of a good number of them then supplement them with players that are still available in free agency. Not to mention, there will be a number of cuts made after the draft as well. This will replenish the pool of free agents with some solid veterans that can either provide depth or come in and fight for a spot on the 53 man roster.
In this piece I’ll list the positions on the roster that the team could look to address in the draft. Again, they won’t be able to look at all of them. Keep in mind that these are groups that they could add depth to also. If a position is listed, it doesn’t mean I think it has the potential to be addressed in the first 3 rounds. There is no particular order to my list.
Offensive Tackle– The Chargers presently have King Dunlap, Jeromey Clary, Mike Harris, Kevin Haslam, and Stephen Schilling. Although one can not give a ringing endorsement to this group as a whole, the overall quality could change, for the better, if the team brought in Bryant McKinnie or Eric Winston.
The majority of people think that the team should find a way to secure one of the top 3 tackles. I suppose that would place me in the minority.
Offensive Guard– The Chargers list these players as there Guards at the current time: Chad Rinehart, Rich Orhnberger and Johnnie Troutman. David Molk is capable of playing Guard too.
Opening holes up the middle in the running game, and keeping pressure out of the face of Philip Rivers are crucial to this offense’s success. But, let me remind you, the Ken Whisenhunt offense will have Rivers getting the ball out much quicker than the overload of 7 step drops in Norv Turner’s offense.
Drafting a guard too early would be a mistake.
The Chargers have also brought in Joe D’Alessandris from Buffalo to run the offensive line. The Chargers will be employing a zone blocking scheme, along with the power scheme.
Running Back– The current crew of running backs are Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown, Edwin Baker, and Foswhitt Whittaker. It’s hard to say if either Baker or Whittaker will make it past training camp. If the Chargers do decide to add a running back late in the draft, one or both of them could be cut.
Mathews is on his last leg with the Chargers. He has to put up, or shut up in 2013. The new regime has zero ties to the injury prone, yet talented, running back.
Woodhead was a solid addition. However, it’s difficult to say if he is the long term answer at the position. He will be lining up all over the field, causing defenses fits trying to scheme for what he’ll be doing.
Ronnie Brown helped invent the forward pass in the NFL. I kid. Brown is old but very effective as a receiver out of the backfield and solid in pass protection out of the backfield.
Wide Receiver- The wide receivers are Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem, Richard Goodman, Dan DePalma, Deon Butler, and Mike Willie. In quantity, this group seems more than fine. In quality, that is another issue altogether.
Having weapons in the passing game for Rivers is crucial. Alexander and Floyd on the outside, with Brown in the slot sounds good to me. Royal might not make it to training camp this year. The team could decide to cut his $1.5 million salary due to multiple reasons. Meachem is a Charger for at least the 2013 season. He is owed far too much money to cut him.
The rest of the group consists of camp bodies/practice squad players. I don’t mean to sell short what Goodman provides as a gunner and kick returner on special teams. But he is not a threat at wideout.
Don’t be surprised if the team adds a wideout to compete with this group.
Quarterback- Calm down. Rivers is my favorite Charger. I am not saying to replace him. Carry on. Joining Rivers on the roster at this time is Charlie Whitehurst. Some people believe that now is the time to groom a replacement for Rivers. That isn’t the worst idea if the right guy falls and fits what the Chargers are doing. It’s a scenario like the one with Brees/Rivers, or Rodgers/Favre, in that having a signal caller learn behind a high quality starter can be an intelligent move. It may not pay immediate dividends, but in the long run it can certainly do just that.
The bigger question at QB for me is, do you feel comfortable having a Barry Gibb look alike, Whitehurst, as the Bolts’ backup? What are the chances of the Chargers staying alive in the case that Rivers went down? It makes me cringe, on so many levels, to even consider that happening.
If the Chargers do draft a guy to groom, and Rivers starts to put up quality numbers again, then you ship the newby off to a quarterback hungry team for a high draft pick.
Fullback- I am not going to make a lot of friends with this one. That is perfectly fine. The NFL has been phasing out the position for the last half a decade or more. Le’Ron McClain leaves a lot to be desired. McClain is another one of AJ Smith’s free agent extravaganza from 2012. You don’t have to draft a fullback. But you can pick up a guy as an undrafted free agent. And, by the way, I still have no idea what #sweater means that he constantly tweets out.
I didn’t list Tight End or Center on this list. The Chargers are now loaded at Tight End. Nick Hardwick is our best offensive lineman and Molk will be a solid replacement in the future if need be.
There you have it. Those are the offensive positions the Chargers could look to improve during the draft. We’ll address the defensive positions either later today or tomorrow.
Feel free to leave a comment below about what you think the Chargers should do offensively in the draft.
Thanks a lot for reading.