Late last week multiple sports outlets reported that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not show up to camp without a new contract. In addition, if they can not come to a deal, Gordon is demanding a trade. Gordons’ agent, Fletcher Smith, told the media that he and his client are dug in on the matter. Reportedly, there has been no progress in negotiations which spurred them to take this drastic action.
Gordon is in is option year, set to make $5.6 million dollars. Given his production since being drafted in 2015, he has transformed into a top-5 running back in the NFL. Last season, he ranked fifth in yards from scrimmage. Over the last three seasons, he’s only second to Todd Gurley in carries with 1,079 and third in the league in touchdowns (38) and yards from scrimmage (5,205) over the last four seasons. Undoubtedly contributing to their decision making process are the recent long-term extensions given to fellow running back contemporaries Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (4-yrs, $60 million, with $45 million dollars guaranteed), Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (3-yrs, $39 million with $30 million dollars guaranteed) and Le’veon Bell (4-yrs, $52.5 million with $25 million dollars guaranteed). All three threatened to sit out until they got a new deal and only Bell actually sat out a season.
To holdout now will be the greatest leverage he has to use. The Chargers are coming off a 12-4 season highlighted (and lowlighted) by a trip into the AFC Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl champions, New England. The window of opportunity for Philip Rivers and company is now and Gordon is a big piece of the pie in that equation. At 26, this is the best time for Gordon to holdout. His value is at its peak, this is the moment of greatest need for his team with the Chargers ascending to championship contender status and he has proven himself to be a durable, reliable, elite dual-threat running back.
The only reason Bell didn’t succeed in getting paid with the Pittsburgh Steelers is because he waited until after he had been franchised twice. Bell and Gurley got their deals before the team had that control in their hands. The Chargers have the same leverage inasmuch that they can franchise tag Gordon for up to two more seasons at the league average of the top-5 running backs in the league. It’s in the Chargers’ best interest to get a long-term deal done or trade Gordon now as opposed digging in and letting him go (after sitting out the season) and getting nothing in return. Gordon loses all leverage by playing the season and allowing himself to get franchised for two seasons. What team is going to give a long-term contract with a boatload of guaranteed money to a 28-year old running back?
So what do the Chargers do?
The Chargers have a lot of big contracts of core players coming up at the end of 2020 and not a lot of cap space to sign them all. Rivers, Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Jatavis Brown, cornerback Trevor Williams, safety Adrian Phillips and center Mike Pouncey headline the players who will be looking to cash in on their on-field success. By the way, franchise defensive end Joey Bosa will be looking for big bucks at the end of the 2021 season. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco has some big decisions to make and Gordon is forcing his name to the top of the list.
Without Gordon, the running back depth chart will be Austin Ekeler, second-year pro Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome and Troymaine Pope. Ekeler has proven his versatility and ability to make plays in space but the group behind him is unproven to say the least. Gordon, obviously is the element that takes this group from good to great. As seen by the recent signings of guys like Bell and Gurley plus the growing influx of backs that are as deadly catching the ball as they are running it; the devalued running back position is making a comeback. If Telesco makes a trade he is hamstrung because no team is going to make a fair offer knowing the position he is in. At best he may be able to acquire a package of draft picks. A first round pick isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The Oakland Raiders received a first-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Weeks earlier, they had received two first-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick plus a conditional fifth-round selection for Khalil Mack. Cooper was coming off a down 2017 season and found himself lost in the wide receiver shuffle until newly-hired Raiders coach Jon Gruden shipped him out of town. Mack has established himself as a top-5 if not the best pass rusher in the league before Gruden sent him away. Gordon is closer to the Mack end of the spectrum than the Cooper end. The problem is draft picks are always a crapshoot. A package of picks including a first-rounder or two is all well and good, but it does not result in equal value and it does nothing for the loss of production for a team that is among the favorites to appear in the Super Bowl.
The other side of the coin is to sign Gordon and judging from the deals mentioned above, the terms are going to be in the neighborhood of a three- to f0ur-year deal worth $13- to 16-million dollars per year with two-thirds of that money guaranteed. Can the Chargers afford it? According to Sportrac, Over-The-Cap, ESPN Stats and Info and other sources, the Bolts have just under $11 million dollars in cap space. Still, cap space backdoors are known and utilized by ever GM in the league. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers consistent and on course for that long-awaited Super Bowl return. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers in place as the biggest threats to Kansas City, who will be heralded as the heir apparent to the Patriots’ franchise based on the trajectory of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is coming into this, his third season, on the heels of winning the NFL MVP award after his first season as the Chiefs starting QB.
As a fan and as a man who was there at the NFL Draft when Gordon was drafted, I want him to stay a Charger for life. I’ve met the man, had a conversation with him and shook his hand on the very first day he was tapped to be a Charger. He’s a solid guy, very kind, very active in the community and has a sparkling reputation as a teammate. That being said, I believe Gordon will be traded. I cannot blame the Chargers front office as much as I’d like to do so. The system is flawed with the way teams can get away with so many years of control before a player can cash in on a long-term deal. I can’t blame Gordon for holding out as much as I can’t blame the Chargers brass for wanting to hold onto control for as long as they can before backing the Brinks truck up to his door. Players are now getting wise to the fact that this is the road to hoe if they’re going to avoid overuse and get paid before getting stuck on a series of one-year contracts.
Whatever they decide, they don’t have long to do it. Gordon and Smith have established the beginning of training camp, July 24, as their hard line date to get a new contract done. If they don’t get a deal, they want the Chargers to start looking for trade partners. There’s no reason at this point to believe they won’t follow through on their threat since no new news has come through the pipeline since this story broke. I believe the Chargers will shop Gordon and take the best offer they can get. Having a disgruntled player in the fold will be a huge distraction to the team, the fan base and the bottom line knowing he is at home while the team is fighting for a playoff spot. If Gordon is gone everyone has no choice but to accept it and move on. The Chargers should be able to get a Khalil Mack-esque deal. It won’t be as good but comparable in the sense that it will be multiple picks and at least one first-round pick. Brace yourselves Chargers fans. It won’t be pretty but we know, now more than ever, how much of a business the NFL has become. May the football Gods have mercy on our souls….
The Greg One
Any long-standing San Diego-now-Los Angeles Chargers fan can think of many failed attempts at clever marketing tactics. The latest, entitled #FightForLA is just as bad as the rest.
We get it. Now that there are two teams vying for the same fan dollars in Los Angeles it is seen as a ‘fight’ for Los Angeles. That sentiment couldn’t be farther from the truth for two major reasons. First and most importantly, no one in Los Angeles wants either team to be there. Aside from the subsection of devout loyalists (such as myself) who grew up with the teams in their former homes and would watch them if they relocated to Mars; neither move has raised an eyebrow among the general NFL populous.
Secondly, if the #FightForLA is intended to pit the Chargers versus the Rams in a L.A. rivalry the same way the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are pretended to be, that too is a fallacy. The Clippers have always been the red-headed stepchild in the NBA version of this L.A. story and even though they are currently better than the current version of the Lakers, the Lakers will always be the alpha dogs because of the championship banners hanging from the rafters.
Head-to-head, the Chargers are hands-down better than the Los Angeles Rams. Don’t believe me? These rosters prove my point:
Quarterback: Chargers QB Philip Rivers vs. (Quick, does anyone even know who the Rams starting quarterback is??) The answer is Case Keenum, Jared Goff and Sean Mannion all took snaps for the Rams last season to disastrous results and a 4-12 season. Altogether the Rams passed for 3,313 yards and that includes a 4-yard completion by their punter! By comparison, Rivers threw for over 1,000-yards more than the Rams quarterbacks combined (4,386).
Running Back: Rams Todd Gurley vs. Chargers Melvin Gordon. Part of a dying breed of bell-cow running backs, this is the most even matchup on the ledger. Gurley fell off from his breakout rookie season once teams figured the Rams couldn’t pass the ball and loaded the box to stop the run. Gurley managed 885 yards and 6 touchdowns on 287 attempts (3.2 yards per carry). Gordon did the opposite, rebounding from a disappointing rookie campaign to fall three yards short of a thousand yards on 254 attempts (3.9 yards per carry). Gordon went from zero touchdowns as a rookie to twelve (ten rushing, two receiving) in his sophomore year.
Wide Receiver: The Rams tried to run their offense through the speedy but diminutive (5″8′) Tavon Austin. Secondaries figured out the game plan early and rolled coverage to him. As a result he had only 509 yards and three touchdowns receiving. Running reverses and other gadget plays added another 159 yards and one touchdown to his 2016 resume. Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Lance Kendricks provided the bulk of the punch from the receiving corps, accounting for 1,063 yards and ten touchdowns combined.
In San Diego, Tyrell Williams had a breakout season amassing 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns by himself. Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin combined for another 1,487 yards and eight touchdowns. Not bad considering they lost their number one receiver, Keenan Allen, in the first week of the season.
Total offense: The Rams finished dead last in points per game (14) and yards per game (262.7). The Chargers finished ninth in points per game (25.6) and 14th in yards per game (356.8).
There’s no point into going over to the defensive side of the ball. Fans come out to see an exciting, dynamic offense and a good football game. While the argument can be made that neither team achieved that goal, the Chargers were able to put points on the board. The Rams were blown out (16 points or more) six times. They scored ten points or less nine times. The Chargers only had two games where they scored under 20 points (16 and 19) and of their 11 losses, eight were decided by a touchdown or less.
If this were a fight, the ref would’ve stopped it by now….
There is no question as to who is the best team in Los Angeles. Provided they can stay healthy, the Chargers will make the playoffs this season. Health is always the biggest problem with this team as they have not been able to keep their starters healthy for many seasons. The Rams will be living in the NFC West cellar for yet another year, healthy or not. They simply don’t have the talent.
Los Angeles is a notorious fair weather, bandwagon-jumping city. If you win, they will come and tell you they have been a fan for years. The only question is can the Chargers keep their weapons on the field and out of the trainers’ room and if so, how many games will it take before the Los Angeles public officially adopts them?
But retire the hashtag already…
Please and thank you.
The Greg One
Hopefully all those people – those would be the voices of last season which were scathing at times – are eating their words this season with regard to Melvin Gordon. Bust, you say? Maybe that was a bit premature.
Why? First a little bit of Gordon’s background.
There was speculation aplenty when Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco and the San Francisco 49ers swapped spots in the 2015 NFL Draft. Telesco moved from 17th position to 15th and took Gordon. Many fans were disconcerted, some even loudly outraged, that the running back pick was Gordon and not Todd Gurley. Personally, I felt that with the Bolts needing a better running back than Ryan Mathews had been, plus the fact that Gurley was still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, it was a good choice.
What wasn’t there to like? Gordon finished his career at University of Wisconsin-Madison having played in 45 games where he had 631 carries for 4,915 yards and 45 TDs. As a receiver out of the backfield there were 22 catches for 228 yards and four TDs. In his senior year, the former Badger hauled in 19 receptions for 153 yards and three TDs while also accumulating 343 carries and 29 TDs for 2,587 yards (second most in the FBS). He also had six games of 200+ yards, a school record.
Being chosen as a first rounder is a huge responsibility coupled with as much, if not more, expectation. Not just the expectation of teammates and coaches, but also what the individual places on themselves. As a rookie the playbook is just one part of the whole; the speed of the game is vastly quicker and the majority of guys you suit up with are playing at a level considerably higher than your own.
Contributing factors to Gordon’s lower-than-anticipated numbers were the woes of the offensive line play of the Chargers. The team went through 24 O-line combinations. Play-calling was WAY too predictable. The line could not create holes on a consistent basis for the rookie to run through. Perhaps the biggest disservice to Gordon was the fact that his entire career at Wisconsin he had a fullback in front of him, yet there was no such position on his new team.
It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
This year saw a change at offensive coordinator as Frank Reich exited San Diego for Philadelphia. Ken Whisenhunt returned and brought with him the hope for a more productive running game. At the end of his 2013-14 stint as OC, San Diego had the No. 5 offense overall and was 13th in rushing. In 2015, the team was ranked ninth in total offense and they were 31st in rushing. Gordon was ranked 37th amongst all running backs.
With Whisenhunt, Gordon seems to have flourished. Through eight games (no update to include week nine yet), NFL.com has him ranked twelfth amongst running backs with 572 rushing yards (161 carries) and 219 receiving yards (24 catches). Including week nine stats, Footballdb.com has Gordon listed in the No. 3 slot behind Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (891 yds) and Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (807 yds). Gordon has logged four games with over 100 combined rushing and receiving yards: Jacksonville 120 yards, Atlanta 121 yards, Denver 155 yards and last week at home against Tennessee he racked up a whopping 261 yards.
Even better is the fact that after nine games, Gordon is leading the league with 11 touchdowns. After not crossing the goal line once last year, the guy that many called a “bust” is number one in touchdowns scored!
The early season loss of Danny Woodhead, one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield, is part of the reason for the uptick in Gordon’s numbers. When Woodhead went down, and Branden Oliver out for the year since pre-season, it meant that Gordon had to step up his own game. It had been stated several times from OTA’s through training camp that he appeared more confident and sure of himself. Now, HE is the one taking the hand-off from Rivers in those 3rd down conversion scenarios when the call is for a run. HE catches some of those 3rd and long passes, and HE is the guy scampering in when they are in the red zone. Except of course for the Broncos game when he should have been given at least ONE shot from the 2-yard line to tie the game and Whisenhunt called for four straight pass plays.
Gordon has the vision this year that he was lacking throughout his rookie campaign. Having Derek Watt, his fullback from Wisconsin, blocking in front of him in games has helped. Less turnover along the offensive line has also made it easier to get off the line of scrimmage. He has fumbled twice this year versus the six from a year ago. The frenzy of 2015 has slowed a bit in his second year.
Gordon has been running so well that after last week’s Titans game in which he accumulated 196 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and darted in for another rushing TD, the second-year back was nominated for, and won, both the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and the Castrol Clutch Performer of the Week!! Take that, all those Melvin Gordon haters of 2015! Not so much of a bust, after all, is he?!
My prediction is that Gordon will be the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Chargers since LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 1,110 in 2008; LT had 11 TDs that year and 154 receiving yards. Gordon needs only 232 yards to hit the 1,000 mark in rushing. If he continues at the pace he is on now, he will exceed that number. As of this writing he has already reached 1,032 yards combined. I anticipate he will score a total of 18 touchdowns and amass 1,300 rushing yards by season’s end. Bold? Perhaps. But I think he is up to the task.
Now if only he can continue to get the ball put in his hands in those short red zone TD situations!
On Thursday, a blockbuster trade was announced between the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. In the deal, the Titans sent their first overall pick (1), and their fourth- and sixth-round picks to St. Louis. In return, the Rams sent Tennessee their first-round selection (15), two second-round picks and a third-round selection in the 2016 draft. In addition, the Rams include their first- and third-round picks in 2017.
Nevermind free agency, this is the best thing to happen to the San Diego Chargers this offseason. This mega-deal comes down to three main points:
1. The Rams are preparing to select their quarterback of the future. They need to continue the momentum from the euphoria of moving back to Los Angeles by adding star power. They need to stay in the news in a city like Los Angeles, which is not starving for sports selections. Every major league sport is now represented in Los Angeles with the return of the NFL. L.A. is about box office. The Rams may have a future star with Rookie of the Year running back Todd Gurley, but if there aren’t enough big names on the marquee, the fickle L.A. audience will forget you sooner rather than later. Adding the top quarterback in the draft will address their biggest need and be another name to add to the marquee.
2. The top two picks in the draft will be quarterbacks. The Cleveland Browns select second in the draft and need a quarterback as badly or worse than the Rams do. North Dakota State signal caller Carson Wentz and California Bear Jared Goff are the consensus top-two quarterback prospects in this draft. They will be the first and second picks, the only question is the order in which they will be selected.
Is it possible the Browns could choose a player other than a quarterback with the second pick?
If the Browns are smart they will stay at two and pick their quarterback. If they were choosing anyone other than a quarterback then wise thing to do would be to trade out of the second spot for a nice boatload of picks like the Titans and add starter-quality players to their decrepit team. Then again, we are putting the Browns and smart in the same sentence. This is, after all, the team that burned the second of their two first-round picks on Johnny Manziel only two drafts ago.
3. San Diego will get the No. 1 player on their draft board. Despite what happens with the Cleveland pick, the odds of anything happening aside from Goff and Wentz going in the first two picks are slim and none. Thankfully, the Chargers do not need a quarterback, meaning they will have their choice of the entire draft field to choose from. With eight picks to use over seven rounds, they not only have the top of each round to select the best player available, they have the maneuverability to re-enter a round to accommodate a player who is falling or trade down for value.
The draft truly begins with the Chargers selection. The pressure is on GM Tom Telesco and his braintrust to not screw up this pick. After being left at the altar by the league in the race to L.A. sweepstakes, and not being able to come to an agreement with Rams owner Stan Krownke on co-habitation of the future L.A. mega-stadium, the Bolts should add Kroenke to their Christmas card list.
This trade assures order at the top of the draft. It assures the Chargers the pick of the litter of non-quarterback skill- position players. It’s assures the Bolts a King’s ransom for those other quarterback-hungry teams wishing to jump ahead of other quarterback-hungry teams sitting in the top half of the draft. (Think San Francisco, Philadelphia and possibly Dallas sitting at picks 7, 13 and 4, respectively).
The ball sits in the Bolts’ court. Who should they give it to? Leave your thoughts on whom they should select below.
The Greg One
When the San Diego Chargers did not address the vacancy at running back during free agency, it was obvious that would become one of the top priorities in the 2015 draft. Most of the Chargers’ faithful cheered when the front office moved up two spots, selecting Wisconsin Badger Melvin Gordon with their No. 1 pick.
Telesco and company found it paramount to give up their fourth-round pick in ’15 (big surprise) and fifth-round selection in ’16 to ensure that no one received the right to signing the electrifying Gordon other than the Bolts.
At the University of Wisconsin Gordon rewrote the NCAA record books. In 2014, Gordon led the Nation in rushing (2,587 yards), yards from scrimmage (2,740 yards), rushing touchdowns (29), touchdowns from scrimmage (32), rushing attempts (343) and yards per attempt (7.8). Gordon was a unanimous selection for All-American and All-Big-Ten First-team honors, as well as winning the Doak Walker Award given to the Nation’s best running back.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Gordon was the picture of durability during his days at Wisconsin. After receiving a medical redshirt for suffering a groin injury during his freshman year in 2011, Gordon did not miss a game due to injury the remaining three years he spent on campus. A stellar 2014 season was capped by an Outback Bowl MVP award, additionally earning him second place in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
All of the hype surrounding Gordon upon his drafting by San Diego was well-deserved and well-received among most Chargers fans. To anticipate big things from such an elite collegiate running back was to be expected.
The reality of his pro career through seven games has not been as rosy.
Contributing factors to Gordon’s limited success can be traced to multiple things; an ankle injury has limited his effectiveness in games. The Chargers have been slowly working Gordon into the offense with a running-back-by-committee approach alongside Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver. The Bolts’ offensive line has once again been decimated by injuries. Ball security has also affected his playing time. To date, Gordon has fumbled four times, losing three. In three years at Wisconsin, he fumbled 12 times, losing seven. Gordon had 631 carries during that time. In San Diego, he’s carried the ball 85 times, yet still putting the ball on the carpet at an alarming rate.
It goes without saying that the college game and the pro game are two completely different animals. The defenses are faster, the players hit harder and the game is played at a much higher level.
Nonetheless, fundamentals, like ball security, don’t change. In college, it equated to one fumble every 53 carries. In the pros, it’s an alarming one fumble per every 21 carries. Gordon’s recent fumble issues, and nagging ankle injury, are the most likely reasons why he didn’t enter Sunday’s Raiders’ game until midway through the third quarter.
Despite the growing pains of being a high-profile draft pick in the NFL, Gordon is fifth among rookies in rushing with 328 yards. The Chargers find themselves with a 2-5 record, clinging to slim playoff hopes after an embarrassing home loss to the Raiders.
How does San Diego right the ship and get Gordon on track?
Two simple changes can achieve both purposes.
Abandon the running-back-by-committee approach
Gordon has shown he is capable of being an every-down back at the collegiate level. Let him prove he is capable of being an every-down back in the pros. To achieve this, Mike McCoy and those responsible for the gameplan on Sundays must to be willing to give Gordon the ball. In the last two games, Gordon has carried the ball seven times each. He has averaged 14 carries over the five previous games.
Gordon has to do his job and step up his game in respects to ball security, pass protection and route running. McCoy and offensive coordinator Frank Reich have to fully commit to the running game, giving Gordon twenty-plus carries, allowing him to be the punishing running back that he was in college.
Any running back will tell you being in on every down allows them to get into a rhythm, which helps them run better. Woodhead and Oliver can still be inserted on passing downs to spell Gordon when he needs a rest.
The second solution is presented in the form of a question.
What did Gordon have during his record-breaking seasons as a Wisconsin Badger that he does not have in the pros?
Get Melvin a capable fullback
Gordon accomplished all the gaudy records mentioned above — and a lot more — playing in a traditional Big-Ten power-running scheme. The Badgers almost exclusively ran I-formation with a fullback leading the way, opening the first crack in the defensive line. Gordon was able to use his explosiveness to get through the crack and accumulate yardage at an astounding clip. No back in NCAA history has more than Gordon’s 7.9 yards per carry average over his career. Using that scheme, Gordon is the fastest running back in NCAA history to 2,000 yards. He did it in only 241 carries.
If it ain’t broke…
With the Chargers, Gordon has been the single back on most of his plays.
We’ve watched as he’s shuffled his feet at the line, waiting for that first crack to open. It has been tough sledding for the rookie behind a patchwork offensive line struggling to open running lanes. As a result, Gordon is only averaging slightly above 40 yards per game.
After three-plus years of not having to wait, he’s getting stopped at or behind the line because his downhill running style isn’t conducive to waiting for a lane.
We’ve also seen that when he’s able to turn the corner along the sidelines he has a phenomenal second gear, along with the ability to accelerate for huge gains. Sadly, those moments have been few and far between. It will remain that way until the offensive philosophy changes.
The fullback is a dying breed in the NFL. There are no great fullbacks left, but you don’t need a great fullback to achieve the desired result.
There are plenty of free agent fullbacks who would love nothing more than to sign for the veteran’s minimum (approximately 800-900k depending on years of service) and run into the defensive line looking for contact. Henry Hynoski, Frank Summers, John Conner, Zach Boren and Jed Collins are all experienced fullbacks who would welcome the opportunity for an NFL paycheck.
Establishing a running game takes pressure off of quarterback Philip Rivers.He has already taken a beating this year. Rivers has been sacked 18 times. The Chargers have the No. 1 passing offense and the 29th rushing offense in the NFL through seven weeks because the coaches won’t commit fully to Gordon. A solid running attack keeps Rivers healthy, opening opportunities down the field with play action. But the running game must first be established prior to play action making sense, much less being viable in tricking the defense into deciding whether or not to commit to one or the other.
Forcing Rivers to throw 123 times in the last two games is an indictment of the lack of a consistent, effective running game. Continuing to force Rivers to shoulder that heavy a load will result in fans seeing the same beaten, battered QB we saw limping around at the end of last season.
The Chargers need to do no more than look east of the Mississippi at Gordon’s draft-class counterpart, Todd Gurley, to see what the reward could be. Many considered Gordon better than Gurley. The difference is that in St. Louis, Gurley is getting 19 carries per game and has garnered 442 yards in the four games he’s played. The Rams trust their workhorse, and San Diego needs to do the same.
The window is still open for a turnaround and postseason run with an (on paper) easy remaining schedule, including five division games on tap. The window will shut fast if no change is made soon.
At this point, there is nothing left to lose.
It’s time to release the Kraken. Get Gordon a fullback, let him carry the rock, stacking wins.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One
The 2015 NFL draft is here. Fans everywhere are as curious as ever to find out which players their favorite teams will be selecting. Charger fans are no different, as they know this year means so much in what will be the third year of general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy at the helm in San Diego.
Although the Chargers have needs at multiple positions, the team can fill most of their voids in today’s draft. Telesco has added a good amount of quality starters in his two years as the general manager of the Bolts. Fans can look for him to have another strong draft, adding players that supplement the roster in a way that gives you all something to be proud of over the next few days.
Without further ado, here is my mock draft for your San Diego Chargers.
The San Diego Chargers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With the words of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers ringing in their ears, they know they have a choice to make.
To paraphrase, Rivers said he’s going to play out his contract, which concludes at the end of the upcoming season, and what happens next happens. He has no interest in playing in Los Angeles and he’s simply going to focus on this season. His decision to play any further for the Chargers rests on what happens with the stadium issue and relocation to Los Angeles.
What’s a front office to do?
The rumor mill has been abuzz with talk of the Chargers possibly trading Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the number two pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, affording them the ability to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to be the new quarterback of the Chargers. Other rumors are circulating about Rivers being dealt other places and for any combination of picks and players but that’s all they are, rumors.
Would the Chargers front office really trade Philip Rivers?
We all know football is a business before all things. No player is untouchable. Anyone can and has been traded. All-time legends of the game like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Ronnie Lott, Deion Sanders, Brett Favre and countless others all saw phenomenal careers end in a jersey other than the one they were drafted in. The Chargers are well within their rights to do their due diligence in searching out options in case Rivers decides to leave if the Chargers relocate.
Obtaining Mariota with the second pick and then a game changing running back like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with the 17th pick has to look attractive on many levels. It’s a hyper speed rebuild with the intent of keeping up with the Joneses (Denver) at the same time. The Chargers would be taking two of the most dominant players at their position in college football over the last four years, rolling the dice and hoping to come up roses.
Here’s the problem. They’re still rookies. It’s still too much to ask them to take on such a huge task and expect immediate results. Quarterback and running back are arguably the two most difficult positions to come in and be the day one starter. There will be growing pains. There will be flashes of brilliance some days and startling ineptitude in others until they adjust to the game at the NFL level and some gifted players coming out of college never do. Ask Johnny Manziel how easy it is to go from being a big shot quarterback in college to playing against NFL defenses.
That is the very reason San Diego should not entertain the thought of trading Philip Rivers.
Rivers is the face of the franchise. He is the Captain, the undisputed leader of the team. As he goes, the Chargers go. No team feeds off their quarterback more than San Diego. Rivers has been the consummate team player. Seemingly every offseason the Chargers revise his contract to free cap space to sign players and he does so without complaint. He’s the first man in the facility and the last to leave. Rivers is the player every man in the locker room, rookie or veteran, can look up to and draw inspiration from. Philip Rivers is the heartbeat and the soul of the Chargers and the San Diego fan base.
In the San Diego county, Rivers has made himself at home and become a pillar of the community. He is a role model. Never do you hear of him getting into trouble at the club, getting arrested, bashing media or rival players in social media or falling prey to any other trapping of success afforded to a multi-millionaire athlete. Rivers began a humble son-of-a-coach and has stayed that way. He comes with a blue collar mentality. A true grinder in every sense of the word, he shows up with the traditional lunch pail and hard hat in hand, leaves it all on the field and quietly goes home to his family at the end of the day.
If only more players would follow his example….
I feel a strong connection to Rivers on a number of levels. Being born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina I literally grew up on the N.C. State campus. I saw all of Rivers games at NCSU. There hadn’t been a successful quarterback out of N.C. State since Roman Gabriel back in the 60’s. Logically, Rivers became my favorite player and I was elated when the Chargers fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning fiasco to bring Rivers to my favorite pro football team in 2004.
Few players are more fun to watch than Rivers. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He feels the way we feel sitting in the stands watching the action unfold before us. We live through him. Ironically, I have to admit, Marcus Mariota is my favorite college player since Rivers. Mariota shows the same poise, accuracy, score at any moment capability Rivers did in college. All eyes stay on him and he does not shy away from the big stage. Mariota is going to be an amazing pro and the Chargers have every right to wine and dine him and work him out. That being said, I don’t want Mariota if the cost is Philip Rivers.
It is alarming the Chargers haven’t made significant strides to assure the fan base that Rivers isn’t going anywhere. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. GM Tom Telesco has said he wants to do everything to make sure Rivers retires a Charger. We’re all wise to front office speak by now and what happens at the draft will speak volumes.
I will be attending the draft in person with my Rivers jersey on as it is every year on day one. A nightmare scenario will be hearing that the front office pulled the trigger and sent Rivers to Nashville. Soul crushing would be the phrase that comes to mind. I grew up a Chargers fan. I bleed Navy and Gold. I thought nothing would ever change my allegiance to the one team I hold on a pedestal above all others regardless of sport.
However, I find my faith has been shaken. I’ve honestly had to sit down and reevaluate my allegiance to the Chargers if a trade were to happen.
One man is not bigger than the team but Philip Rivers is the embodiment of the San Diego Chargers. A move like this would make me question the decision making of the front office. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. Ask the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Raiders how hard it is to find a quarterback you can rely on day in day out, year in year out. Once you get out of the top ten quarterbacks in the league every team remaining would give anything to have a signal caller as great as Rivers.
To trade Rivers means they have given up all hope on keeping him even if they have signed and sealed documents confirming a move to L. A. sitting on their desk. It means they’re not willing to exhaust all avenues to convince him to stay. I know a lot of this rests on Rivers shoulders also, he is not without blame in this. Philip has painted the Chargers front office into quite a corner. However, aside from Rivers himself coming out and telling the world through TV, newspaper or radio that he is asking to be traded will I be able to forgive the Chargers brass for letting him go.
What are the Lakers without Kobe? Nothing. What would the 90’s Chicago Bulls have been without Michael Jordan? Nothing. What are the Patriots without Tom Brady? Nothing. What are the Chargers without Philip Rivers?…
Would YOU remain a Chargers fan if Rivers gets traded Thursday?
After long thought on the matter I arrived at this conclusion: I have been a Chargers fan since day one and that was three and a half decades ago. The Chargers are part of who I am. I have seen them all come and go both ceremoniously and unceremoniously. I have seen good, bad and inbetween. Without the Chargers I am a man without a country sports-wise. There’s no NBA team, no baseball team, no college team aside from my Alma Mater, N.C. State, that I root for nearly as feverishly. Leaving my Chargers would be like losing a family member.
I’ve been in the trenches with this team too long. I’m past the point of no return with this team. I want my casket to be in Chargers colors and the date(s) we win the Super Bowl to be inscribed upon it. Love won’t allow me to leave but I understand more practical, less emotionally invested fans leaving the Chargers ranks over a move like this. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.
The Greg One
Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon? As great as they may be, Gurley and Gordon are far from the only quality backs in this year’s draft. How about Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman, TJ Yeldon, and don’t forget Duke Johnson. These are some of the names from what is expected to be the best running back draft class since 2005. Standouts from that year were Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Cedric Benson. Looks like some general managers will be salivating in a few short weeks!
Gurley and Gordon could conceivably be selected in the first round when the 2015 draft takes place in Chicago from April 30 to May 2. Both may very well be starters for whatever franchise chooses them, though Gurley may need time to complete the rehab from his 2014 knee injury. Of the approximate 74 college players who declared for the draft this year, eight might hear their name called anywhere from round two through round three.
So, if you think that Chargers GM Tom Telesco must pick a running back when San Diego is up at 17: I think you might need to reconsider. No question the Bolts need a power running back the likes of which hit the road when LT went to the Jets. But that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a guy in round one. There are going to be many high-value players available in this draft.
San Diego Chargers fans – “Trust in Tom” will need to be the phrase once the Lightning Bolts are on the clock!
Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to your comments.
It is no news to anyone that the San Diego Chargers are in dire need of a running back.
In fact, they need a running back that can do more than just take hand-offs from Philip Rivers. They need a back that can also catch passes and convert first downs, as well as bang it into the end zone when the game is on the line. Enter the quick and sure-footed running back out of Boise State, Jay Ajayi?
Weight: 221 lbs.
40-Yards Dash: 4.57 Seconds
Jay Ajayi is an extremely versatile running back, something that would benefit the Chargers tremendously. His size assists him in breaking and spinning off tackles to gain extra yards. The former Boise State Bronco made catches out of the backfield, was a power-back between the tackles, ran outside and even lined up as a wide receiver.
He displays good hands/vision/zone-blocking skills coupled with great footwork due to his years playing soccer. A powerful downhill runner, he plays with patience and is dangerous coming out of the backfield. This is where the Chargers can expect him to be most effective for them as proven by his college rushing statistics: 3,796 yards on 678 attempts and 50 touchdowns (TDs); he made 73 catches for 771 yards with five TDs.
At the professional level, NFL.com has compared Ajayi to Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks because they share a similar body type and running style. Like Lynch, the draft prospect uses the stiff arm to keep defenders away, is a physical runner, and has the potential to be a three-down back.
My projection is that Jay Ajayi will be selected in perhaps the middle of the second round. He has what it takes to be a difference maker in the NFL, and the Bolts should attempt to pick him up if the running backs expected to go before him (Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), Todd Gurley (Georgia), and Tevin Coleman (Indiana) are not available.
What do you think, Chargers faithful? I’m good with my choice. Do you feel the Bolts general manager Tom Telesco has Ajayi’s name penciled in on his draft board for San Diego?
Thanks for reading! Please comment below.
Despite the NFL draft being months away, there are already hundreds of mock drafts all over the internet. A few times a year I take the time to check out the various mocks and look at which players the draftniks have pegged as draft selections for the Chargers.
This post will mark the first time I am doing that this offseason. I went through 75 different mock drafts and tallied up all of the prospects that were mocked to the Bolts in the first round.
Here are the names that came up after scanning the web.
Players receiving one vote:
SS – Landon Collins Alabama
RB – Todd Gurley Georgia
CB – Trae Waynes Michigan State
OLB – Vic Beasley Clemson
CB – Marcus Peters Washington
CB – PJ Williams Florida State
DE/LB – Shane Ray Missouri
CB – Ronald Darby Florida State
CB – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Oregon
DT – Jordan Phillips Oklahoma
OT – Ty Sambrailo Colorado State
DE – Alvin Dupree Kentucky
CB – Kevin Johnson Wake Forest
Players receiving two votes:
DE – Arik Armstead Oregon
OT – Brandon Scherff Iowa
Players receiving four votes:
C/OT – Cam Erving Florida State
OT – Cedric Ogbuehi Texas A & M
Players receiving five votes:
OT – Ereck Flowers Miami
OT – Andrus Peat Stanford
DT – Eddie Goldman Florida State
Players receiving six votes:
OT – TJ Clemmings Pittsburgh
Players receiving eight votes:
NT – Danny Shelton Washington
Players receiving ten votes:
OT – La’El Collins LSU
And with the 17th pick in the 2015 NFL draft, receiving eleven votes, the San Diego Chargers select……
RB – Melvin Gordon Wisconsin
Although Melvin Gordon has a ton of potential to be a fantastic running back in the NFL, there are so many other needs that might need to be filled prior to drafting a ball carrier. Many draft experts have compared him to Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.
This offseason will be very interesting in San Diego. Tom Telesco has his work cut out for him and it should be fun to watch his plans unravel.
Thanks a lot for reading.