Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Trumaine Johnson

We have featured a few corners already, but with the uncertainty of Jammer being around much longer, the Chargers should be looking to add depth and future starters in the draft. One intriguing prospect is Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
Position: CB
Weight: 204 lbs.
Height: 6' 2''

Pros: Johnson has great height, measuring in at 6' 2''. That height would come in handy having to cover big receivers like the Chiefs Baldwin and Bowe. He is very fluid in his movements and excelled in man coverage during college. He can break underneath routes and come up with the pick and can go up and get a high ball. He has good strength and can use his size to throw around smaller players, also doing a good job a disengaging from blocks to get at least a hand on the ball carrier. He was able to often times shut down his end of the field with his presence, making quarterbacks look elsewhere for a receiver.

Cons: The biggest red flag with him is his speed. He was clocked at anywhere from 4.50 to 4.60. Against faster receivers, he may not hold up. He also doesn't break down on tackles as much as you would like out of a player his size. This causes him to whiff at times. Johnson also doesn't have much to show with zone coverage. He can lose the ball when it is in the air at times. Johnson competed at the FCS level, so questions remain about the level of competition he faced and if it could prepare him for the NFL.

Whoever drafts him better hope that his game speed is better than his 40 time. That being said, this kid should be able to step into the rotation on nickel and dime packages and contribute on special teams.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Charger Madness 2012 NFL Mock Draft v 1.0 Picks 21-32

Today rounds out the first round of the Charger Madness 2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0. Here are picks 21-32.

21) Cincinnati Bengals- Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)

The Bengals surprised a lot of people this year, making the playoffs before falling to another surprising team in the Texans. The defense needs help, especially at corner, but they already addressed that at 17th with Dre Kirkpatrick. The team does have some good weapons for Andy Dalton in A.J. Green and company, but I think they could add one more receiver to help Dalton. Hill has been limited in his development playing in a triple-option system, but he has great speed and is a willing blocker. With time, his routes should improve. He should be a nice addition to the team.

22) Cleveland Browns- Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)

I had the Browns passing on Trent Richardson at 4th to take Claiborne. The next several picks for this team will be offense. This unit is dreadful. To me, Martin seems like a back who can do just about everything. He is probably a bit underrated and should be a nice fit for the Browns. He has great acceleration and strength, can catch out of the backfield, bowl over defenders, and run both inside and out. The only knocks I have head are that he doesn't have elite top end speed and he sometimes doesn't always carry the ball away from defender. he will need to improve his pass blocking, but what rookie doesn't? Martin better be ready to take a beating.

23) Detroit Lions- Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)

Detroit has put together a great defensive front and has a decent group of linebackers. The weakest link in this unit is the secondary. Delmas is a great player, but they really need help against the pass. Just look at how they were shredded by Matt Flynn and Aaron Rodgers. Jenkins isn't the typical small school guy. He played for the University of Florida and is an all around great back, possessing great agility and speed. He has a knack for making big plays and was lights out at the Senior Bowl.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Facebook Fan Page

Charger Madness has redone the facebook fan page, linking it in with the Charger Madness twitter account. To join the new facebook fan page, just click the link at the top of the home page or click this link below. Make sure to like and share the page with your fellow Bolts fans and friends.

Chargers Draft Prospects: Alamaeda Ta'amu

San Diego is in need of depth at all levels on defense as well as an increased pass rush. What many are overlooking is the importance of a solid DT rotation. San Diego does have some good players that they have been deveolping in Cam Thomas and Vaughn Martin. Antonio Garay has reportedly started talking to the Chargers, but at 32, we can't expect him to be around to long if he does even resign. With that in mind, the Chargers may look to add depth at DT later in the draft with a player like Washington behemoth Alamaeda Ta'amu.

Weight: 348 lbs.
Height: 6' 3''

Pros: Alamaeda is a mountain, plain and simple. At 348 pounds, he has great bulk and can throw that weight around at the line. He has great strength and possesses a surprising burst coming out of his stance, splitting gaps in the offensive line well. He has good enough upper body strength to grab a ball carrier with one arm and be able to slow him enough to get a second arm around him. He can lay devastating hits on opponents due to his use of his ability to engulf a ball carrier. He can create a bottleneck in the middle and can occupy multiple linemen, freeing up other pass rushers to achieve favorable matchups.

Cons: His size, while a big strength to him, is also something that could severely impact him as a professional. He weighed in at 390 pounds at one point and later played at 360 pounds. He did devote serious time to getting his weight under control for his senior year, trimming down to 337 pounds. He has added additional muscle, but this will be something he needs to keep an eye on. He has short arms, which could be a hinderance in dealing with NFL level linemen with longer arms. He doesn't have great pursuit ability, taking a long time to get up to speed. He doesn't have good footwork, so if he fails to penetrate with his initial burst, he is likely a non-factor without penetration.

San Diego has a good rotation at DT, but depth can never hurt. Both Thomas and Martin can move out and play end as well, so Ta'amu would allow for more versatility and creativity in San Diego's new defensive scheme.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Charger Madness 2012 NFL Mock Draft v 1.0 Picks 11-20

Today we continue our first mock draft with picks 11-20.

11) Kansas City Chiefs- David DeCastro (G, Standford)

Kansas City brought in Eric Winston to fill a void at tackle, but they could really use some help with the interior of their offensive line. DeCastro is an elite guard, drawing comparisons to Steve Hutchinson. The Chiefs are still a very heavy running team, and DeCastro can be a great player for years to come. Kansas City has a good collection of weapons at the skill positions for Matt Cassel to work with, so keeping him upright and clearing holes for Jamaal Charles.

12) Seattle Seahawks- Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)

Seattle has a big need at linebacker. They have struggled for the last few years at the position. Luke Kuechly can solve some of those issues. Kuechly is one of the best linebackers to come out in the last several years. The kid can line up at any spot, but fits the middle the best. Many thought that he would run a slow 40 time and hurt his draft stock. He did the opposite and made a great case for being a top 15 selection. He is a smart linebacker with a great motor and will be a great defender for the Seahawks.

13) Arizona Cardinals- Johnathan Martin (T, Stanford)

Arizona has one of the worst lines in football at the moment. While they did resign Levi Brown, there are holes all over the place on this line. Martin can play on both the right or left side, giving the Cardinals some flexibility. The team may not be sold on Brown anyways. Martin would help keep whoever wins the quarterback battle in Arizona between last years big trade Kevin Kolb or Fordham's little guy that could John Skelton upright.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Charger Madness Mock Draft 1.0 Picks 1-10

The 2012 NFL Draft is just over a month away. Today starts part 1 of the  Charger Madness Mock Draft 1.0. We begin with picks 1-10.

1) Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)

The Colts have been a lock to pick Stanford QB Andrew Luck for months. While the team will give due diligence to Robert Griffin III and scout him, but Luck is the man here. Indy will begin a new era this season, and what better way to replace Manning than with the best quarterback prospect since, well, Manning. Luck can make all the throws and looked great throughout his college career and at his pro day. It almost seems unfair that a team can get to draft franchise quarterbacks back to back like this.

Other Possibilities: Robert Griffin III

2) Washington Redskins (from St. Louis)-  Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)

The Redskins sold the farm to move up to the 2nd spot in order to land their quarterback of the future. Griffin has elite athleticism and can make all the throws. The differences in Luck and Griffin are mainly just style of play. Both are talented. Griffin seems to be a great fit for the Redskins and the West Coast offense. He possesses great character and can be a leader in the locker room for years to come.   Either way, the Redskins will get a great quarterback.

Other possibilities: Andrew Luck

ESPN Power Rankings: Where is San Diego?

ESPN has put up the first power-rankings of the new year. San Diego came in at 15th overall. Here is a link to the ESPN article.

How does the AFC West stack up in ESPN's power rankings?
Some of the rankings have me a bit confused, like with Carolina and Kansas City being ranked higher than Cincinnati,  but I think that San Diego is checking in about where they should be. This isn't to say that they are worse than the Broncos (8th), Eagles (12th), or Dallas (14th), or that we are any better. Rather, with all of the losses San Diego has suffered and the uncertainty that comes with signing free agents, these rankings are rough. As the draft approaches and teams continue to address issues, expect these ranking to fluctuate. San Diego still controls the division, but Denver is going to be a handful if Manning stays healthy.

Here is how the AFC West stacks up.

8) Denver Broncos
15) San Diego Chargers
17) Kansas City Chiefs
26) Oakland Raiders

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making the Case for Tyronne Green

San Diego had one of the best guards in football over the past several years in Kris Dielman. With Dielman's retirement, the Chargers are on the hunt for a successor. Many fans are wondering if the Chargers will try to draft somebody like Georgia lineman Cordy Glenn to replace Dielman. While this may very well be a possibility, fans shouldn't forget about the great job that Tyronne Green did filling in for Dielman last year. He was part of a line that did a great job late in the season keeping Rivers upright and comfortable. He possesses good size and has proven to be a very versatile lineman for the team to date. Green has potential and should be able to compete, as the Chargers plan on letting him. I could see San Diego adding some depth both guard and tackle, but Green should lessen the need at left guard.  It should be great come training camp to watch a critical position battle. Even if the he doesn't end up starting, Green will still be a valuable piece for the Chargers due to his versatility. One way or another, he will see the field.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Charger Fans Breathe Sigh of Relief

With the Chicago Bears, for reasons unknown, signing former Raiders running back Michael Bush, San Diego may have just gotten the first good news in the last few days.  Bush has been a great back for the Raiders, who selected him in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Bush, who was limited early in his career by the effects of a broken tibia suffered while playing at the University of Louisville, did not see the field until the 2008 season. Bush has served as the backup to former first round pick Darren McFadden, filling in several times for the oft-injured McFadden. Charger fans will remember the game in which Bush abused the team in week 10 last year to the tune of 242 yards from scrimmage. With Peyton Manning signing in Denver and the Chiefs adding yet another talent back to their rotation, Bush's departure could not have come at a better time. Bush could start for a number of teams. While the Chargers will still have to deal with McFadden, a beast in his own right, Oakland's two headed monster just got weaker. With the increased competitiveness of the AFC West, ever little bit helps. Oakland is limited by their lack of draft picks in this years draft, so I expect 4th round pick Taiwan Jones to step into the rotation and provide some support.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NFL Destroys Saints

The NFL has handed down the punishment for the Saints as an organization and coaches. These are historic punishments from the NFL, of that there is not question. Commissioner Roger Goodell threw the book at the Saints, as they rightly deserved. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely, with a review of his actions at the end of the year. Head Coach Sean Peyton has been suspended for one year, the first head coach to be suspended by the league in its history.  The team as a whole was fined $500,000 and had their 2012 and 2013 2nd round picks removed. GM Mickey Loomis has been suspended for the first 8 games of the season. These punishments are severe, with the ability to destroy an organization with one act. I have to commend the NFL for taking such strong action against the Saints and this system. Yes, I know that football is a contact sport and one based to an extent on violence, but there is a clear line between playing the game with a physical nature and purposely trying to hurt a person. Bounties have been an issue within the league over time, but the league has made its stance on the issue of player safety well known. The Saints knew what they were doing was wrong, yet they continued to operate this system. The league needed to send a message, and send a message they did. The league has yet to announce punishments for individual players, but I expect them to be just as harsh.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tebow Traded to Jets

Is Tebow now a threat to Mark Sanchez?

The Denver Broncos made official what we all knew was coming today. It has been announced that the New York Jets have traded  4th and 6th round picks to Denver to get quarterback Tim Tebow and a 7th round draft pick. Tebow, as you may recall, was the media sensation of the entire NFL last season. Fans of Tebow, form all over the country, put him on a pedestal. Denver struggled early in the year and the fans increasingly begged for Tebow to be put in. John Elway and coach John Fox finally did just that, and magic ensued. Fox and company redid the entire scheme to fit the few good traits that Tebow had, mainly his mobility and and ability with read option plays. Tebow was able to get the Broncos into the playoffs as fans see it. In reality, Tebow had a pathetic 46% completion percentage and was benefitted by a great defense and powerful rushing attack. He did make some key plays when it counted, but he is not a good quarterback. That is how Elway saw it, hence bringing in Manning. I am not going to say that Tebow can never be good, but he just doesn't have that traditional makeup just yet.
What happens to McElroy, maybe the best quarterback for the Jets?

The question that now comes up is just how the Jets want to use him. Is he actually going to compete for the starting job? If nothing else, this may be seen as a big red flag on Sanchez by the Jets. Maybe he will be used in wildcat packages. In all honesty, I see him as mainly just taking up space on the roster. Worse yet, he may force who I think is the best quarterback the Jets have, Greg McElroy, down the depth chart. McElroy had to be behind Sanchez due to the investment that the team made by selecting him 5th overall. Now he has to deal with the media circus known as "Tebowmania".

Chargers Draft Prospects: Robert Turbin

San Diego lost Mike Tolbert to the Carolina Panthers, leaving them to return closer to home for a reduced offer. San Diego has been rumored to be looking at 4 free agents to replace him, but it is very possible that the Chargers may target a back in the draft as a replacement for Tolbert. It is possible that Utah State running back Robert Turbin may be considered by the Chargers.

Position: RB
Height: 5' 10''
Weight: 222 pounds

Pros: Turbin has been turning heads at Utah State for several years. He is not a one year wonder. Turbin possesses great upper body strength, which he uses to excel at running between the tackles as well as picking up blitzes. He has strong leg drive and surprising agility and acceleration when heading upfield for a back his size. Turbin can also catch the ball out of the backfield, adding another skill to what he can bring to the team. His ability to deliver a strong impact may very well help him contribute on special teams as well.

Cons: While Turbin does possess good speed for a back his size, he still doesn't have great top end speed. He also doesn't possess lateral agility, but that is to be expected with a bigger back. it very well is something that he could improve over time. What is most concerning is Turbin's injury report. He missed all of 2010 with an ACL injury and had a foot injury in 2007. These injuries are much easier to recover from today, but it will still be enough for a team to consult with their doctors extensively.

Turbin brings several skill sets to the table, filling the role of goal-line back, receiver out of the backfield, at minimum a good spell back, and possibly contribute on special teams. Turbin is a back who may be drafted later in the draft due to the limited value placed on running backs in the now pass happy NFL. Adding Turbin for a minimal investment could pay huge dividends for the team. It will be interesting to see how San Diego approaches the draft and the remaining free agency class.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Shea McClellin

San Diego has seemed to address many of their roster issues with some key free agency singings. It appears that San Diego is going to use the draft to upgrade their pass rush and the strong safety position as well as their depth at running back through the draft. San Diego has the luxury of using some of their later picks to take pass rushers later. With that in mind, we profile Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin.

Position : OLB
Height: 6' 3''
Weight: 260 pounds

Pros: McClellin may be one of the most underrated player in the draft this year. He has good speed and agility. McClellin possesses a high motor and has experience at both defensive end and linebacker. This versatility may benefit the Chargers greatly, allowing for more flexibility in the Chargers defensive scheme. He has a large skill set of pass rushing moves, using a great mixture of size, speed, and technique to fight his way through. He has good size for the position and may come at a value price for the Chargers, with his name being called late in day 2 or maybe at the start of day 3. McClellin will have critcs who say he didn't play the best competition due to playing in the Mountain West, but that is just absurd. The Broncos have constantly shown that they can match up with the best in the country.

Cons: McClellin does not have elite athleticism. McClellin doesn't have the strength to overpower stronger linemen on a consistent basis and is prone to over-pursuing. He also doesn't have a defined position, so he may not fit easily into a scheme. He will have to become more disciplined, especially if a team uses him both standing up and with his hand on the ground.

McClellin has the tools to become a great pass rusher and bring versatility to a defense. He most likely will not be called early in the draft and can be a good value pick, possessing huge upside with limited investment. McClellin could be a replacement for Larry English, who has failed due to injury and may be facing his last season with the team.

* Within the last few weeks, McClellin has climbed up many draft boards, with some sites grading him as a fringe 1st round pick or 2nd rounder.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Header

A big thanks to XxBombchellexX at Bombchelle.Underground for some serious help with the new header for Charger Madness.

Follow XxBombchellexX:!/XxBombchellexX

Manning Starts Negotiating with Denver

It seems that Manning is all but a signature away from becoming a Denver Bronco. Manning told his agent to begin negotiations with the Denver Broncos. It seems that Manning will get basically full control of the offense. Manning turned down several other teams, including the Dolphins, 49ers, and the Titans. Experts are now saying that the Broncos are the favorite to win the AFC West. I think that this is going a little far. It will make the AFC West more competitive, but we shouldn't forget that the Chargers have beat Manning 5 of the last 6 times they have played. All of the hype isn't over yet. Just because Manning has signed does not mean that things are set for the Broncos. They now have to deal with Tim Tebow, both from a personnel standpoint and a fan standpoint. While I think most fans will be happy to have Manning, trading Tebow may not be popular. I have a hard time seeing Tebow fit in with a lot of teams. Many are pointing as Jacksonville as the team he will be traded to, but I really could see the Dolphins making a cheap trade, especially with the odds of Alex Smith staying in San Francisco. Expect to hear more and more about how great this trade is. I am still concerned about his injury issues. In the end, I have to love the attitude that Philip Rivers has about Manning coming to Denver. Instead of worrying about how the division just got tougher, he has stated that he is excited to compete against one of the best in the league.

San Diego Resigns Backup TE Randy McMichael

San Diego has brought back reserve tight end Randy McMichael. To me, this seems to be a great move. With the injury history of Antonio Gates, McMichael has seen plenty of playing time the past few seasons. San Diego also brings back a veteran who can help mentor a young tight end if the Chargers want to go that route in the draft. People often forget that McMichael was a very successful tight end for the Dolphins and Rams. Being able to learn from both him and Gates would only seem to be a benefit to a young player. McMichael was used heavily as a blocker, and with the addition of LeRon McClain, I expect San Diego to have a much improved running game.

With free agency still grinding on, most big names have been signed, with the exception of the restricted free agent market. Now the challenge is to find quality depth and value for the right price. San Diego has done a good job bringing in quality players at positions of needs and resigning the two most important pieces of the offensive line. The biggest hole that the team still has is in the backfield. With Mike Tolbert still visiting teams, San Diego very well might need to look elsewhere for a reserve running back. While a player like Green-Ellis would be great, they will command to much money. I expect the team to either find value in the later rounds of the draft and develop talent if they can't resign Tolbert.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How is A.J. Doing?

Free agency has been a time that Charger fans have come to dread. It always seemed that fans were having to watch a great player leave the team year after year. Going into this off-season, fans were ready to pounce on GM A.J. Smith with just the slightest provocation. Vincent Jackson was the player on every mind. When Jackson left to join the Buccaneers, many fans viewed it as just another year of the Chargers failing in free agency. In reality, Smith has put together a very good group of free agents from a talent standpoint when compared to the money he has spent on them. Each brings a much needed skill set or upgrade to  position of need. While the group may not be flashy, I have to give props to Smith for working hard. He still has the draft left, but I am impressed with how he has handled things so far. Here is for wishing for things to continue this way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

AFC West Free Agency Review

San Diego Chargers

Lost: Vincent Jackson (Bucs), Steve Gregory (Patriots), Billy Volek (Released), Marcus McNeill (Cut), Luis Castillo (Released)

Signed: Robert Meachem, Atari Bigby, Jarret Johnson, Le'Ron McClain, Jared Gaither, Eddie Royal, Charlie Whitehurst

Denver Broncos

Lost: Eddie Royal (Chargers)

Signed: Mike Adams (Browns)

Kansas City Chiefs

Lost: Brandon Carr (Cowboys), Kyle Orton (Cowboys), Le'Ron McClain (Chargers)

Signed: Kevin Boss (Raiders), Peyton Hillis (Browns)

Oakland Raiders

Lost: Kevin Boss (Chiefs), Chaz Schiliens (Jets),  Rock Cartwright (49ers), Jason Campbell (Bears)

Signed: Ron Bartell (Rams), Mike Brisiel (Texans)

Each team has numerous free agents who have not signed with anybody yet, so for the time being, these are just the moves we know have happened for sure.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mario Williams Signs

The biggest free agent not named Peyton Manning has reportedly signed a 6 year contract with the Buffalo Bills. Terms have not yet been announced, but the team had been reported to offering a deal that would make Williams the highest paid defensive player, surpassing the contract given to Bears DE Julius Peppers. Williams is one of those rare player who can play at different positions regardless of his size, possessing astounding quickness, agility, and acceleration for a player his size. Williams will have a huge impact for the team, being just half a sack behind the team's leader, and Williams got that done in only 5 games. Tom Brady just got a little bit more nervous.

Peyton Watch

Is Manning an executive in the making?
As we have all undoubtedly heard, Peyton Manning is a free agent. It is rumored that at least 12 teams wanted Manning, with 4 teams emerging as the leaders, those being, Miami, Denver, Arizona, and Tennessee. Each team offers benefits, but Tennessee may have played a huge power card. It is reported that the Tennessee Titans have apparently guaranteed Manning a position in the front office after he retires as a player. This is a huge leveraging by the Titans. I have to wonder if this practice would even be approved by the league. We have all seen how the league reacts to things they don't like, even if there is no rule against it (of which I am not sure, more research needed). To me, Manning looking for a guarantee like this would make me all the more worried about his arm strength. It will be interesting to see if any other teams are willing to make an offer like this. In the end, Manning is literally leading these teams around by their noses. This is leading to a slippery slope, with teams destroying relationships with not just quarterbacks, but other players and even executives. This has stopped being just a big free agent signing and turned into a three ring circus. I for one will be glad when this is over.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Free Agency Updates for Day 2: Chargers, Buccaneers, Cowboys, and 49er's

Lots of signings today, including several for the Chargers. Here is a rundown of some of the bigger signings of the day.

San Diego Chargers: San Diego opened the day by inking LT Jared Gaither to a 4 year deal. With the resigning of Hardwick and Gaither, San Diego returned valuable continuity to the offensive line. San Diego then reached out to 2 former Ravens in OLB Jarret Johnson and FB Le'Ron McClain. McClain spent last season with the Chiefs. McClain will bring an aggressive nature to the run blocking and also can contribute as a spot carrier or a goal line option. With McClain blocking for him, Ryan Mathews should have no excuse not to have a monster year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  As Charger fans know, Vincent Jackson signed a 5 year, 55.55 million dollar contract with Tampa Bay. That was a huge purchase for the Bucs, but they were not done spending by any means. The team had also targeted former Saints guard Carl Nicks and corner Eric Wright, formerly of the Detroit Lions. Both signed with the Bucs. In the last 2 days, the Bucs have spent well over 100 million on free agents. Both Jackson and Nicks are Pro-Bowl players and Wright showed promise with the Lions.  Tampa Bay is spending big. In my mind, they are the winners so far in terms of free agency, but we should be cautious of signing big name free agents and expecting results, cough cough Philly.

Dallas Cowboys: have also been active in free agency, inking deals with former Chiefs Brandon Carr (CB) and Kyle Orton (QB). Carr is the biggest signing as the secondary was a big weakness for the Cowboys last season. Another signing is former Texans FB Lawrence Vickers. While these might not all carry the same weight as the Bucs big deals, these are all good signing. Orton has starting experience in Chicago and Denver. He also stepped in for the Chiefs last season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville retained the services of Jeremy Micney (DE) and Dwight Lowery (SS),  as well as DT C.J. Mosley and LB Allen Russell. Mincey and Lowery are the biggest retainments for the Jags. They also signed former Cowboy and Charger Laurent Robinson. Robinson was a camp cut for the Chargers last season. San Diego had also been pursuing Robinson, but appeared to back off after signing receiver Robert Meachem. Jacksonville also brought in former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne. The team seems to be content with letting Luke McCown leave. Some are saying that Henne has been brought in to put pressure on first round pick Blaine Gabbert, but I really think it is the team bringing in a quality backup. They have invested to much money on Gabbert and the signing of Robinson should indicate the teams commitment to Gabbert.

San Fransisco 49ers: The 49ers retained corner Carlos Rodgers, which means that their defense will retain all 11 starters from last year's team. This was a defense that was fierce and aggressive. I expect them to add more depth to the unit and try to find some more receivers. QB Alex Smith has not yet resigned, but after the way that he played last year, I expect him to be back.

Check out for a list of the top 100 free agents and their activity.

Jarret Johnson: Newest San Diego Charger

San Diego has been very active over the last two days, signing Nick Hardwick before the start of free agency and working out deals with Robert Meachem and Jared Gaither.  San Diego has once again struck. This time working out a deal with former Raven Jarret Johnson. Johnson has emerged as one of the best OLB in the league when it comes to stopping the run. He overall doesn't have great pass rushing skills, but as per multiple people, he could form a great rotation with Antwan Barnes. Johnson is a player who has outstanding character and will bring a physical nature back to the defense. Many fans may not be too thrilled with the signing, but it makes sense. San Diego plays in a division that runs the ball..... a lot. With Jamal Charles in KC, McFadden in Oakland, and Denver's rushing attack, San Diego could use all the help they can get against the run. In my opinion, San Diego is making shrewd roster moves. This group may not end up with the flash of a Mario Williams, but they are much better than what some will give them credit for.

Here is alink to XTRA 1360 AM, where they have an interview with Jarret Johnson.

Jared Gaither is Back

After a brief stint on the open market, LT Jared Gaither has resigned with the San Diego Chargers. The terms of the contract have not yet been released, although we do know that it is a 4 year deal. Bringing Gaither back is a huge win for the Chargers. The offensive line was a huge area of concern heading into free agency, but the resignings of Gaither and veteran center Nick Hardwick have given the Chargers some much needed continuity. San Diego can now approach the draft with a much more defined position with the offensive line. I expect the Chargers to take a look at some guards and maybe bring in some competition at RT.

Chargers Sign Robert Meachem, May Sign More Receivers for Depth

Heading into last night, the San Diego Chargers had not signed any free agents while seeing several of their own sign or start negotiating with other teams. Many fans were very disappointed with the way that G.M. A.J. Smith had handled free agency. That all changed last night when San Diego had announced that they had reached an agreement with former Saints receiver Robert Meachem. It is reported that the deal is a 4 year, roughly 25.9 million dollar deal. Meachem was a first round draft pick for the Saints. Many wonder if he is a product of a system in terms of his production. In my opinion, his stats are low, not high, due to this. New Orleans spread the ball out all over the field, that is just how they play. In San Diego's system, I expect Meachem to be targeted more than he was in New Orleans. For the price he was signed, Meachem brings a good skill set and comes at a much cheaper price than Vincent Jackson would have cost to retain. We will see if he can live up to expectations. San Diego may also look to bring in another receiver due to their limited depth. Laurent Robinson has been a receiver that the team was interested in signing, but I don't think they will get him. I could see San Diego pursuing cheaper free agents Kassim Osgood or Legedu Naanee, both of who have experience in the system. As a fan, I would love to see Osgood back in powder blue. His presence has been sorely missed on special teams, although the unit was much improved last season.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

San Diego Officially Loses Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson finally got the big paycheck that he has wanted the last several seasons. Jackson signed a 5 year, 55.55 million dollar deal, with 26 million guaranteed. He can make up to 36 million in the first two seasons. This ends all speculation as to where Jackson would end up. San Diego is already in contact with free agents Robert Meachem and Laurent Robinson to replace Jackson, who was a Pro Bowl level receiver for the Chargers. Meachem is also being pursued by the Bills, while Robinson is being pursued by the Jags. Robinson is a training camp casualty for the Chargers from last season, so Turner would no what he is getting with him. Meachem is an unknown. People question if he is good or just a product of a system. I expect San Diego to sign one of these two and target a young receiver in the draft.

In other news, St. Louis has agreed to a 5 year deal with CB Cortland Finnegan for roughly 50 million. Finnegan is being reunited with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher. I would have to say that the Redskins are the winners of day one of free agency. While not any one of the receivers they signed is elite, they acquired several good options for expected quarterback RG3. I think that Garcon is highly overpaid, but I am intrigued by Josh Morgan and his potential. Day two may be won by the Bucs or the Bills. Tampa is also trying to sign G Carl Nicks and LB Curtis Lofton. Buffalo is pursing Meachem and is willing to make Mario Williams the highest paid defensive player in the league. It just came in that Indianapolis resigned Reggie Wayne to a 3 year contract.

Free Agency Updates: New League Year Starts with a Bang

Breaking news out of Miami is that star wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been traded to the Chicago Bears for two 3rd round picks. Marshall is an elite wideout, something the Bears have been severely lacking for years. The trade will reunite Jay Cutler with Marshall. The two had good chemistry while both were members of the Denver Broncos. Chicago just made a great trade, giving up very little for a star player. The only thing that concerns me is that two teams have now moved on from Marshall, even with his talent level.

In other big news, the Chargers have officially cut McNeil and several other players today. This was to be expected to clear room on the salary cap. San Diego has not yet resigned Jared Gaither, so for now, Brandyn Dombrowski at the top of the depth chart at left tackle. Some continuity has returned to the offensive line as center Nick Hardwick signed a new 3 year contract. Hardwick stated that he was happy to be back and would like to finish his career in San Diego. Hardwick has been quarterback Philip Rivers center from day 1.

Buffalo had been talking about making some aggressive moves in free agency, and they were not kidding. DE/OLB Mario Williams of the Houston Texans and WR Robert Meachem of the Saints are both visiting Buffalo tonight. Buffalo could really use and upgrade in their pass rush and needs a talented wideout opposite recently resigned Stevie Johnson.

I will keep posting updates on free agency as it happens, but here is a great link from with great information on the latest free agency news.

Saints Reach Deal with Colston

Just hours before the start of free agency, the New Orleans Saints have announced a new 5 year, 40 million dollar deal (about half guaranteed)  for wide receiver Marques Colston. Colston has been a phenomenal player for the Saints. Colston was a 7th round pick out of Hofstra who emerged as a dynamic playmaker for the Saints. Colston wanted to stay in New Orleans and he got his wish. This just serves as more of an indication that Robert Meachem is going to hit the market in a few hours. Carl Nicks has been offered a contract from the Saints, but it is very possible that he will hit the market.

The biggest impact Colston signing with New Orleans has on the Chargers is that it drives the market even higher for Vincent Jackson. Jackson has said that he is willing to give San Diego a sweetheart deal, but I have a hard time believing it, especially coming from a guy who was willing to shaft his teammates to get more money. If Jackson is going after the money, the removal of another quality receiver just limits the supply available. Teams will now be willing to pay even more if it means acquiring Jackson. I don't expect Jackson to be back. Rumors have been flying as to which team Jackson is linked to, with Tampa Bay, Chicago, and Washington all being rumored to sign Jackson.   With Washington being slapped with the huge salary cap penalties over the next two years, I expect Chicago to be the team that actually ends up with Jackson. Jay Cutler is in need of a legitimate number one receiver (he has done a good job with what he has though). Jackson would give Cutler a big target who can go up and get the jump ball. The Chargers will miss his production, but I think that they can find a good replacement in the draft this year.

Free Agency Just Hours Away

Free Agency will begin in just a few hours. Fans are eagerly awaiting the start to see what teams are going to make a big signing and what teams get left in the dust.  Everybody wants the best, but every year, countless teams get left at the alter. Agents know that this is the best period to get a good deal for their clients. Heading into free agency, there are two huge stories.

First off, Peyton Manning is going to determine much of how the free agency period plays out. The list of teams that want a shot at Manning is daunting. Manning stated that he would like to have a decision by today. If Manning delays, several teams could be forced to wait on signing other free agents while Manning decides. This could cause teams to be at a disadvantage when signing free agents beacause they may not be able to argue specifics on salary. While I do expect most teams to be able to float a ballpark number, Manning will control the free agent market.

The other big issue is the reported 46 million dollar cap removal that the league is imposing on the Cowboys and the Redskins. While there is a point that the teams may have broke a gentleman's agreement in regards to contracts for free agents (Dallas with Miles Austin and Washington with Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall), there was no actual written rule for the uncapped year. It is expected that all other teams with the exceptions of the Saints and Raiders will receive around 1.6 million dollars worth of extra cap space. This is all rather hazy at the moment. Fans are understandably frustrated with this ruling, especially since the NFL approved all of the contracts. Dallas will be facing 10 million dollars removed, but Washington is the team that is really getting hit the worst. The Redskins are being penalized 36 million. The Redskins, as you may or may not know, just recently sold the farm to the St. Louis Rams to be able to draft RG3 (or Andrew Luck if the Colts have a sudden change of heart). They gave up three 1st round picks and a second rounder. Free agency was how the Redskins were going to put RG3 around good talent.

In my opinion, the NFL is penalizing two teams that, while they may have broke a gentleman's agreement, had league approval for what they did. While trying to protect the competitive balance, the NFL has actually limited that very principle of competitive balance.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Charger Madness Presents: Free Agent Wish List

Free agency is set to start at 4 PM Eastern Time tomorrow. As per usual, expect big deals to be made by the end of the first day for some of the elite talents. With that in mind, here are the 5 free agents on the wish list for Charger Madness. These are not based on scheme fit, just preference.

Members From Last Year's Team

1) Jared Gaither: I know that he was a member of the team last year, but resigning him is an absolute must for the Chargers. Gaither finally gave Rivers the confidence he needed to make throws late last season. Gaither should be locked up very soon.

2) Nick Hardwick: The center/quarterback relationship is one of the most important in the NFL. Chemistry is a must at this position. Hardwick has be Rivers center since day one. He is a great center who should be resigned immediately. With all of the uncertainty on the line, this deal should be done quickly. How the Chargers handle their free agents on the offensive line will define how they approach the draft.

Go Get Them

3) Mario Williams: Williams is an elite pass rusher who could add a much needed spark to San Diego's pass rush. Williams is very agile for a man his size. His asking price is going to be incredibly steep, in the same area if not higher than that of Julius Peppers. I expect Williams will be signed early.  I really don't think he will end up a Charger, but we can always hope.

4) BenJarvis Green-Ellis: With the potential departure of Mike Tolbert, San Diego needs a quality back to help Mathews carry the load. Green-Ellis has been a great player for the Patriots. He doesn't fumble and is very consistent. Mathews is to be the feature back, but he has not yet lived up to that hype just yet, although he has improved greatly. Green-Ellis would put some serious pressure on Mathews as well as be a versatile back for the Chargers.

5) Tom Zbikowski: San Diego needs to upgrade the strong safety position. It has been an area of weakness for years. To his credit, Steve Gregory has been an adequate plug in for the Chargers. Zbikowski brings a very physical nature to the position. He may not be the fastest, but I think for the price he will bring, he may be a great pickup. With all the talk of the Chargers drafting Harrison Smith, Zbikowski seems like a safer option.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

San Diego and Mario Williams?

Could Williams be wearing powder blue soon?
The San Diego Chargers are in desperate need of a pass rusher. Many expect San Diego to take a long hard look at USC prospect Nick Perry come draft day. On the other hand, A.J. Smith could use free agency as a way to upgrade this position. With his job on the line, is it possible that Smith will take a risk and pursue Texans DE/OLB Mario Williams? Williams was a dominant defensive end in Houston's old 4-3 scheme, and he looked good as a 3-4 outside linebacker. We didn't really get to see much of him as he missed the majority of the season because of a pectoral injury sustained during the Texans 5th game of the season. Williams had already recorded 5 sacks prior to his injury. Williams is obviously an elite talent. Signing him would do wonders for the Chargers in terms of PR, which they could really use at this point. The only thing that concerns me is the amount of money that it would take to sign an elite player like Williams. He is going to be one of if not the highest paid free agent of this group. San Diego may just not have the money to compete for his services and address all of the other issues on the team. I would love to see Williams in powder blue, but I just don't see it happening. In the end, if A.J. can put together a talented team, that is all that matters. Still, Williams would be a great addition. The only issue I would wonder about would be his skills in coverage. While Houston did run a 3-4, it more resembled a 5-2 team, with the linebackers lining up very close to the line. The best part is that if Manning signs with the Broncos, he wouldn't get away from Williams. We won't know anything for sure until free agency actually starts.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Harrison Smith

San Diego has been a revolving door at SS ever since the team released Rodney Harrison. San Diego has been trying to fix this problem position for the last several years.Harrison Smith has had his name come up several times when people mention the Chargers upgrading this position. Is this the year they do?

Position: SS
Height: 6' 2''
Weight: 212 Lbs.

Pros: Smith has plenty of experience, producing 47 starts at both linebacker and safety for Notre Dame. He plays aggressively at the line and can come up and play in the box. Smith has great size for the position and loves to make contact. Smith also does a good job filling running lanes. Smith also has good awareness of his surroundings.  He plays close and fast at all times, never letting up on a play.

Cons: Smith does not have elite speed, clocking in at 4.50 in the 40 yard dash. He also has rigid hips and does not play very well when he is turned around facing the opposite direction. He does not have great coverage skills and is very raw.He struggles when put on an island. He does not always play disciplined football, getting flagged more than he should.

All in all, Smith is a prospect who will most likely be drafted higher than his actual talent level. Still, Smith has raw potential and should be a good special teams contributor for the time being while he develops.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Huge Trade Between the Rams and Redskins

The RG3 sweepstakes appear to be over. St. Louis has agreed in principal to a trade with the Washington Redskins. The Rams would give the Redskins the 2nd overall pick for Washington's 2012 (6th), 2013, and 2014 first round picks as well as there 2nd round pick this year. Talk about a huge haul for the Rams. Washington still plans to pursue Manning. This move will hurt Washington as they try to rebuild a once proud franchise, but they do have plenty of room under the cap. We all know just how good Dan Snyder is at spending money. St. Louis will most likely look to get weapons for Sam Bradford with these picks. We could also see the Rams invest in a tackle early with the 6th pick to protect Bradford. The Rams have just made out like bandits with this trade. This should all be official once the new league year starts on Tuesday.

Roster Moves Across the NFL

Indianapolis Colts: THe Colts are not stopping with the release of Peyton Manning. They are just getting started. It appears that the team has released RB Joseph Addai, LB Gary Bracket,  TE Dallas Clark, S Melvin Bullitt, and QB Curtis Painter. The team is also shopping DE Dwight Freeney.

New York Giants: The Giants are set to cut RB Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs is a huge runner who carries more steam than just about anybody running the ball. The Giants and Jacobs were unable to make an agreement on a contract.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have released veteran CB Chris Johnson. Johnson, who has 8 years of NFL experience,  was cut in an attempt to clear more cap space for the Raiders.

I expect San Diego to do some research on all of these recently released players, but I don't really expect to see any in a Chargers uniform. The most likely to be picked up would be safety Melvin Bullitt. Bullitt has been a team captain for the Colts and would be a decent solution for the time being to shore the roster hole while giving Stuckey one more year to develop.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two Talented Franchise Quarterbacks to be Picked 1-2. Sound Familiar?

The adage that history repeats itself is not true. There are always different circumstances with every situation, yet it is possible for a general theme to emerge. This year, as we approach the draft, there are two quarterbacks that are being discussed as the best two players in the draft. They are expected to go first and second in the draft. It seems that no matter which of the two is taken, a team is going to get a quality quarterback who can lead the team for the next 10 to 15 years at an incredibly high level.

Is Andrew Luck the next Peyton Manning?
Stanford's Andrew Luck is drawing comparisons to now former Colt Peyton Manning. Luck seems to have all of the polish and ability of a traditional quarterback. He can make any throw and seems to learn at a high rate. While he never won the Heisman, he was a finalist for two seasons. Luck put up phenomenal numbers during his career, even breaking records set by Stanford great John Elway.

RG3 represents a new breed of quarterback coming into the NFL. RG3 has all of the tools to be a good quarterback, but brings a new breed of athleticism to the position. He can make any throw but can tuck it and run with deadly results. He proved himself by taking a Baylor team from the bottom of the Big 12 to a contender. His numbers were great and he conducted himself well in interviews.

Knowing what we do about how these two performed in college, it is hard not to see them having success as an NFL quarterback. Luck seems the perfect successor to Peyton in Indy. RG3 would make a team running the west coast offense even deadlier. It seems that both are tied as to who is the best, only coming down to a matter of scheme preference to decide who is better for which team. In fact, St. Louis has already said that they will be trading the 2nd pick of the draft (for the right price). They are in a prime position to immediately benefit the most from the ability of these quarterbacks. But just because a player is great in college doesn't mean that he will find success in the NFL. Just ask the Chargers.

In the 1998 NFL draft, there were two great quarterbacks coming out of college that had scouts drooling. Peyton Manning had been viewed as an NFL quarterback since he picked up a football. He was the son of Saints legend Archie Manning. He had done almost everything but win a national title or win the Heisman while being a 4 year starter at Tennessee.  Scouts viewed him as a very polished quarterback that would be leading his team for years to come.

Ryan Leaf had just as much hype coming out of college as Peyton Manning. Leaf was a Heisman finalist along with Manning, leading his Washington State Cougars to a Rose Bowl birth, losing to eventual national champion Michigan. Leaf gave the Cougars their first win against Washington since 1985 and helped them capture their first ever PAC-10 title. Leaf was viewed as a more athletic quarterback than Manning. His strong arm also helped elevate his status as a draft pick.

When draft day approached, experts were saying how these two would be meeting each other in the post-season throughout their careers. When the draft began, the Colts selected Manning first overall.  Arizona was supposed to pick second, but made a trade with the Chargers. In that trade, the Chargers gave up two first round picks, a second round pick, and Pro-Bowler Eric Metcalf.  Experts viewed it as a great move.

In hindsight, we all know just how opposite the careers of Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf have been. Manning is going to go down as one of if not the greatest quarterback to play the game while leaf is the biggest example of a bust (maybe a tie with Russell). I am not saying that either Andrew Luck or RG3 is destined to fail. Rather, just hold off on anointing anybody as the savior of a franchise. For the time being, they are highly touted draft picks, of that there is no doubt. Is it possible one of them if not both of them may fail to make the transition to the NFL from college? Yes. Just take the draft hype with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Where Does Manning Land?

Teams around the league are scrambling trying to recruit Manning to play for them. Turn on the news, and you are sure to hear how half of the teams in the league have been linked to him one way or another. With all the reports flying around, here are the 5 most likely candidates.

1) Miami Dolphins: This is a team with an emerging running game, a talented receiver in Brandon Marshall, and a new coach known for offense. Manning would be able to play his style of ball and it would not be to hard to surround him with a little bit more talent. He could definitely take the Dolphins to the playoffs.

2) Washington Redskins: Redskins owner Dan Synder has a slight history of spending big money on free agents. Manning would be working with Mike Shanahan, but he would be given much more flexability than McNabb was given. Manning would need some talent around him on offense, but when Snyder spends, he spends big. It is not entirely impossible that Manning may go to Washington and get a target like Vincent Jackson (a long shot but hey, whatever).

3) Seattle Seahawks: This is an intriging option. Manning would be going to yet another team with a strong running game. While I do think that the Seahawks need a quarterback, Manning may not end up there. If he does, watch out. The team has decent receivers, and we know what Manning can make receivers look like. In a weak NFC West (exception San Francisco), the Seahawks could emerge as contenders.

4) Arizona Cardinals: Manning would have some serious firepower here. This could be a team that has a huge turnaround under Manning, but they already have a confusing and crowded quarterback situation as it is. Kolb cost them a lot of money, and who doesn't love the idea of John Skelton winning out in a position battle? In the end, Manning could turn this team into a contender based off of the weapons he would have. Will this great quarterback claim redemption in the desert?

5) Cleveland Browns: Cleveland has no weapons at receiver, but getting Manning could free them up to get Justin Blackmon (possible) and maybe grab someone like Michael Floyd at 22. There would be some growing pains, but this is a signing that might actually make sense if the team really does want to stick with Colt McCoy as their long term option.

In the end, who really knows where Manning will end up. The sad thing is that we don't know if he will finish the year. Things will most certainly be interesting, so for now, we wait.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Manning Era is Over

Word out of Indianapolis is that the Colts are moving ahead with plans to cut Manning by the Wednesday deadline for his 28 million dollar roster bonus.  Personally, I think that cutting Manning is the best decision that the Colts can make. I know that it can be hard for fans to watch a superstar player, the face of a franchise, walk away. San Diego fans saw that happen just a few seasons ago when LT left. As great as Manning has been for the Colts, it is time to move on. He gave them everything he had;  no doubt about that. The problem is the Colts have far too many holes to address on this team to keep Manning. As we saw with this team, when Manning was healthy, they were always a good team, regardless of talent at other positions (exceptions to guys like Freeney, Mathis, Clark). Without Manning, they, to put it lightly, fell apart. There are deficiencies at basically every position. For the future of this team, it is in their best interest to invest that money into a new system and focus on building a contender again. If Manning is fully recovered, keeping him would only hinder that progress. Yes, they could have Andrew Luck waiting in the wings. If Manning leads this team as he has in the past, that will put them at a lower draft position. Even if Indy just uses high picks (as long as their scouting is good), they will have a chance to rebuild quickly. If they trade down, they could also stockpile picks. Either way, Manning is done in Indy. He has produced at a high level and will be a first ballot HOF for sure. Maybe now the Chargers can fix that awful draft decision about some Leaf guy (only kidding). Whatever team gets Manning will certainly have a lot of hype. If he can play, watch out. He may just take an afterthought team to the playoffs.

Monday, March 5, 2012

2 Big Roster Moves by San Diego

Big news today out of San Diego. The Chargers have released lineman Luis Castillo. While the team is still open to resigning him at a lower rate, Castillo has the ability to test the market. Perhaps the biggest news is that San Diego did not tag receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson is now a free agent and should draw huge interest from numerous teams. While A.J. has talked about the possibility of Jackson resigning as a free agent, I think he may as well be long gone. Reports indicate that Jackson would have received almost 14 million dollars had he received the tag. Expect San Diego to target a receiver early in the draft.

Ryan Mathews: Buy or Sell?

The jury is still out on Ryan Mathews.
For years, the Chargers were a great running team with LT carrying the rock (also having great backups helps). When the Chargers made the decision to move on from the Tomlinson era it only seemed natural that the Chargers would search for a running back to fill his shoes. Heading into the 2010 NFL Draft, many expected San Diego, who was slated to pick 28th in the draft, to find a running back early in the draft. Many fans were wondering if San Diego was going to stay put in the draft, trade up, or trade down. San Diego ended the speculation by trading up to the twelfth pick of the draft to take Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews. San Diego paid a high fee to draft Mathews, who already had a decent injury history. I, as were many Charger fans, were skeptical of the trade. This was a draft that featured Toby Gerhart and C.J. Spiller, whom many felt were the best backs in the class. Gerhart fell into the second round and Spiller ended up going to the Bills, who picked 9th. Mathews had a rough rookie season, dealing with injuries and fumbling issues. Still, Mathews turned in a decent rookie season in terms of production. Fans wanted more out of a first round pick.

Mathews came into this past season sharing carries with Mike Tolbert, although Mathews was the de facto starter. Fans expected Mathews to rise to the occasion and to produce even more. On the field, he carried the ball for 1,091 yards and caught 50 passes for 455 yards. These numbers were respecatble to say the least, earning Mathews a trip to the Pro Bowl as an alternate for Ray Rice. Still, fans are wanting more out of Mathews. I understand that desire, especially with all of the fond memories of Ladainian Tomlinson still fresh in our minds. People have to realize that LT was a special player. Finding a player of that caliber is a daunting enough task, let alone replacing him.

Would Gerhart have been a better pick?
Mathews spent several games injured his rookie year and then had no off-season the following year. For what it is worth in this pass happy league, he has produced at a good level. People need to understand that   the position of running back is in a state of flux. As a fan, I really wanted the Chargers to not trade and take Terrence Cody and Toby Gerhart with the 28th and 40th picks. Was I skeptical of the trade? Yes, without a doubt. That draft also contained Ben Tate (Texans), Johnathan Dywer (Steelers), James Starks (Packers), and D.J. Karim (Jaguars). This is not to say that any one of them may have succeeded in San Diego (although I think several of them could have) to a higher level than Mathews, just that there were other options. What really hurt the Chargers was the loss of the multiple picks they gave to the Dolphins. Those picks could have been used to develop crucial depth, something the Chargers are very thin on now at several positions.

In the end, Mathews may prove to be a good player for the Chargers. In my mind, the jury is still out. He will really need to step up this season to cement his status to the fans as a legitimate draft pick. In the end, we need to realize that he is not LT 2.0. Mathews just needs time to continue developing.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Dre Kirkpatrick

The Chargers could use help in the secondary. Is Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick a potential answer?

Position: CB
Height: 6' 2''
Weight: 186 lbs.

Pros: Kirkpatrick played at Alabama, a member of one of the best college defenses. He has great fluidity and agility and is strong enough to be very successful jamming receivers at the line. He was mainly used as a man coverage corner, but he has the speed and ability to make big plays in zone coverage. He also has the leaping ability to go up and get jump balls. He tackles well, which leads to dropped balls.

Cons: His biggest knock is his character. Even though the pot charges against him got dropped, many teams still see this as a red flag. Coach Saban was hard on Kirkpatrick to keep him focused, but he may not have that in the pros. Kirkpatrick sometimes doesn't get great hand placement on jams and receivers blow by him or knock him down. He also sometimes plays too aggressive, falling for double moves sometimes.

Kirkpatrick has issues swirling about his character, but if he can get that sorted out, he has the talent to be a special player in the league.

St. Louis: Biggest Winner of the Combine?

After all the drills had been completed, all measurements taken, the 2012 scouting combine came to a close. Even though several players turned in amazing workouts, there was perhaps no bigger winner that the St. Louis Rams. The Rams, already set with quarterback Sam Bradford, hold the number 2 spot in the draft. With Andrew Luck all but a sure lock for the top pick, that leaves RG3 out of Baylor on the board, and teams want him. Both Washington and Cleveland have been linked to a trade, which the Rams say they are open for. Who really knows how many teams could make a serious offer, but expect this pick to fetch at least multiple first round and second/third round picks. This deal could very well be bigger than the Julio Jones deal last year. St. Louis has the luxury of playing all sides against each other. The picks they get, if used correctly, could turn this team around.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The News Out of New Orleans Just Keeps Getting Worse

New reports are showing that the payoff system that the Saints were running had been going on since the 2009 season. Reports show that Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams (now with the Rams), was supporting this system. Worse, it appears that coach Sean Payton not only knew about it, but let it happen.  It is reported that players were payed between $1,000 to $1,500 dollars for knocking out players or causing them to be carted off the field. Thousands of dollars were payed out, with the pool reaching its highest point ($50,000) during the 2009 playoffs . It makes the hits on Brett Favre and Kurt Warner look all the worse. The fallout from this is going to be unbelievable. Coaches' careers are going to be ruined, players' integrity and reputations destroyed, and the NFL's feel good franchise forever tarnished.
This kind of action is absolutely disgusting. The saddest part of this is that little kids looking up to these players have to go through seeing their hero fall. Kids look up to these players as heros, seeing them as good guys. To do something like this can only send a bad message to kids. With actions like this, we ask ourselves where sportsmanship has gone in youth sports. Need we look any further?

Huge News Out of New Orleans

The NFL is investigating the New Orleans Saints for using a bounty system on defense. This is just starting to come out, so the big picture isn't clear, but so far, it appears that over 20 players and at least one coach were involved. If this holds, expect some huge penalties and fines for the Saints. Stay posted to Charger Madness for more updates.

Biggest Losers of the Combine

Just as usual, the combine this year saw some players elevate their status while others fell. Here is a list of some of the worst performers of the combine.

1) Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: Adams entered the combine with a lot of hype vying to be the number 2 tackle in this draft class. Instead of coming out strong, all Adams did was disappoint. He ran a dismal 40, clocking in at 5.4 seconds. This is coming from a guy who is 323 pounds. For comparison, Cordy Glenn, who weighs in at 345 pounds, ran a 4.96. To make matters worse, Adams only put up 19 reps in the bench press. That is pathetic for a tackle; there were running backs who put up better numbers. Adams had the opportunity to cement himself in the first round, and when it was presented, he failed. Make no mistake about it, this was terrible.

2) Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State: Issues off the field can be put aside by teams if the talent is great enough, but what do you do with a player who has issues on the field? Burfict did nothing to help his draft stock, which at this point may as well have jumped off the Grand Canyon. Burfict used his interviews and time with the media to blame his problems on his coaches. Is there anybody in the league that would want to work with a player like that? To make matters worse, Burfict turned in a lumbering 5.09 40 and looked terrible in drills. He also showed up much heavier than expected, weighing in at 248 pounds. What more can this kid do to hurt his stock? Actually, don't answer that, I don't even want to know. Character issues were already going to force him down teams boards, but this workout may have pushed him off a few.

3) Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Rumors had been swirling about Alshon Jeffery and his weight for some time now. While he did show up at 216 pounds (not the 229 he played at or the even higher expected number), he promptly took the positive news and threw it under the bus. With top wideout Justin Blackmon not running the 40, Jeffery had a chance to step up and fight for the number 2 receiver spot in this class which is getting rather crowded. To make matters worse, Jeffery didn't even compete in any drills. He will have to wow at his pro day, and even then, there are still going to be issues with his work ethic that he will need to answer.

4) Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Wright was another receiver trying to emerge from a talented group who came up flat. He ran a slow 4.61 and didn't look the sharpest in drills. Wright doesn't have ideal size. He needed a strong workout to help his case, and it just came up flat. He is still going to be drafted, but he can expect his stock to fall by at least 1 round. His explosiveness is there, but he must improve his speed.

5) Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: There was a huge amount of hype coming into the combine with this kid. He was viewed as one of the top tackles in a good class. With all the hype about him, Brockers disappointed. His 40 time was bad (5.36), but worse, he did poorly in the short shuttle (4.81), bench press (just 19 reps, a position worst), and only registered a vertical jump of 26 1/2 inches (lineman have to get those hands up). All in all, his numbers were a huge disappointment. He was being talked about as one of the best linemen in this draft, but at this point, he may be waiting a long time to hear his name called.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Biggest Winners of the Combine

Just as usual, the combine this year saw some players elevate their status while others fell.  Here is a list of some of the top performers of this year's combine.


1) Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College: Kuechly is a tackling machine who saw his already high stocks climb even high with good workouts at the combine. The character of this guy is great and his leadership unquestioned. Could we see a middle linebacker come off the board in the top 15? Kuechly certainly provided enough at the combine for this to be a possibility.

2) Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: Coming into the combine, Cousins was on the outside looking in as a quarterback with a very low draft potential. Cousins, who performed well in the Senior Bowl, was often criticized while at Michigan State for his decision-making ability. Cousins threw the ball very well during the combine and may have moved his way up into the second or third round.

3) Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia: Some people were wondering if Glenn had the athletic ability to find success in the NFL. Glenn put that to rest by doind 31 bench reps and running an impressive sub-five second 40 time. Glenn cemented himself as a great prospect here.

4) Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida: Johnson turned in the fastest 40 time of the combine at an official 4.33 and unofficial 4.29. Robinson was viewed as a fringe talent until now. His blazing time will have teams giving him some serious consideration. Robinson may not be great, but there will be more interest in him now. Could a team take a risk on him somewhere around the 5th round? I am looking at you Oakland.

5) Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: Hill didn't play in anything even resembling a balanced offense in college, working under Paul Johnson's option attack at Georgia Tech. With the limits that this system places on wideouts, the combine is perhaps more important to players like Hill than to any others. Hill ran a blazing 4.36 40 and looked good in receiving drills. Hill is an unselfish blocker and may hear his name called early in day 2 if he backs this up with a solid pro day.