Monday, April 30, 2012

Grading the San Diego Chargers Draft

With the draft officially wrapped up, it is time to take a look at just how well the Chargers did. This will include both an overall ranking and a ranking for each pick.

Round 1, Pick 18: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina (B+)

I am really not sure about this pick. If he is as talented as everyone says he is, then great for the Chargers. My biggest concern is how he handles the transition to OLB. I know that he has played it some in the past, but he is used to playing with his hand in the dirt. I hope that his cover skills are decent, because I really don't want to see a first round pick used on a situational pass rusher. That being said, I do believe that he can contribute to the pass rush. I would like to see him get in and make a difference. We will just have to wait and see how he does. The only thing that is certain is that there is going to be some serious pressure on him to contribute from day one, especially considering the way he fell on draft day.

Round 2, Pick 49: Kendall Reyes, DE/DT, Connecticut (A)

Reyes flew under the radar a bit, but he has serious potential. Any time a team can grab a versatile lineman like Reyes, it is a good thing. He has the size to move in and play DT in a pinch or in nickel schemes, but projects as a defensive end. With Cesaire and Castillo both aging or coming off injury, Reyes should be a factor for the Chargers as a rotational player who eventually starts opposite Corey Liuget. He didn't record a high number of sacks in college, but that isn't that important in a 3-4 scheme. He has the ability to handle double teams but also possesses the agility to split the double teams.

Round 3, Pick 73: Brandon Taylor, SS, LSU (B)

This was an area that the Chargers needed to address and they did. Taylor needs to develop his coverage skills, but he does bring a physical presence to the defense and the position. He was the quarterback of LSU's defense. This wasn't a very deep class at safety, so we will see how this pick pans out. There isn't a huge amount of pressure for him to be effective from day one, especially with Atari Bigby already on the team. It will be interesting to see what the team plans to do with Stuckey now that they have Taylor and Bigby.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rounds 5-7 Reactions for the San Diego Chargers

With the draft finally wrapping up, here is a look at the Chargers draft picks from rounds 5-7.

5th Round, Pick 149: Johnnie Troutman, G, Penn State

Troutman is a big guard from Penn State who plays strong. I will say that he was ranked lower than several available guards according to several evaluators. Still, he seems to fit the mold of what the Chargers want in a lineman. I don't see him being a serious challenger for the LG spot, but he should provide some extra pressure.

7th Round, Pick 226: David Molk, C, Michigan

Molk is another classic Big Ten lineman who should add quality depth to the Chargers offensive line. Brady Hoke changed the culture at Michigan, bringing a tough and physical nature back to the program. Molk is an intelligent lineman who has great footwork. He doesn't have the best physical abilities, but you don't win the Rimington Award for no reason. The Chargers may have struck gold in the 7th round.

7th Round, Pick 250: Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State

Just when the draft was set to end, the San Diego Chargers addressed one of their biggest remaining needs. Edwin Baker has been a productive back for the Michigan State Spartans. Baker isn't a flashy runner, but he is a good threat coming out of the backfield and is already a good pass blocker. Baker should find his way onto the field on third down and maybe on special teams.

All in all, the third day of the 2012 NFL Draft seems like a successful day for the Chargers. They added key depth on the offensive line and the backfield.

Chargers Fans, Say Hello to Ladarius Green

With the 110th pick of the NFL, the San Diego Chargers have selected La. Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green. Green has a big 82 inch wingspan and rarely drops passes. At a lanky 6' 6'', 236 pounds, Green can become a hybrid type tight end who can line up both on the line and outside. He clocked in at a 4.53 in  the 40 yard dash, so he has speed to matter, even more than some of the wide receivers. Green should make Rivers happy with his ability to go up and get the jump ball. With time to learn from Antonio Gates, Green could develop into a dangerous weapon for the Chargers. Green is a quality addition to the Chargers who can learn from one of the best, contribute immediately, and eventually become a starter.

Day 3 Starts Now

The 3rd day of the 2012 NFL Draft is underway. This day can make a team's season spectacular. This is the time to find gems late, think Tom Brady in the 6th round. San Diego still needs some pieces and could really use some quality depth. Injuries have decimated this team the last 2 seasons. This is where a team really develops the back half of their roster and finds project players. I look for the Chargers to add a running back, maybe a Robert Turbin type back. Adding some more depth a cornerback and on the offensive line. The Chargers, barring trades, have a pick in both the 4th and 5th rounds and two picks in the 7th. They traded their 6th round pick to the Miami Dolphins to move up from 78th to 73rd in the 3rd round. Stay tuned for reviews of each new Charger.

Friday, April 27, 2012

San Diego Adds LSU Safety Brandon Taylor

The San Diego Chargers have traded up to the 73rd pick to take LSU safety Brandon Taylor. Taylor had 71 tackles, 5 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions for the Tigers last year. Taylor will bring a physical nature to the position and is an intelligent player. Bigby was brought in to be a short term solution. Taylor slipped down some boards and should be a good investment for the Chargers.  The Chargers swapped third round picks with the Dolphins to move up from 78th and also packaged a 6th rounder (183rd).

San Diego Chargers Select Kendall Reyes 49th Overall

The San Diego Chargers have selected Connecticut DT/DE Kendall Reyes. Reyes was a team captain for the Huskies. The Chargers will play him at DE. Expect him to rotate in with last years first round pick Corey Liuget and to eventually take the place of either Jacques Cesaire or Luis Castillo. People have wondered about his consistency at times, but he should be a good addition to the team. With Cesaire, Castillo, Garay, Martin, Liuget, and Thomas, the Chargers may just have a great defensive line. Reyes didn't put up a ton of sacks, but that isn't a huge deal for a 3-4 end. He has enough flash to split the double team and has great strength to bull rush his opponent. All in all, a very solid pick.

What Do the Chargers Do Now?

Since the Chargers at least feel like they got their pass rusher in Melvin Ingram at 18th overall last night, we now have to wonder what route the Chargers are going to take. Will it be a guard to compete for the LG spot, another pass rusher, or someone for the secondary? It is possible that a player like Amaini Silatolu or Zach Brown may fall to them or they may trade. At any rate, tune in tonight for the second and third rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. A.J. and company should at least make it interesting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

With the 18th Pick, the San Diego Chargers Select Melvin Ingram

Say hello to the newest member of the San Diego Chargers. With the 18th pick, the Chargers selected South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram. Ingram was a player who was supposed to go much higher according to some mocks who was there at 18. My biggest concern about Ingram is how do we play him? Can he be an every down linebacker or will he end up a situational pass rusher. I am just not sure how to rate this pick. For the time being, I am just going to have to trust A.J. yet again. I have no problem eating my words. With Shea McClellin going to the Bears just one pick later, coupled with the immediate need for improvement in the pass rush, the pressure will be on Ingram to produce from day one. Welcome to the NFL.

The First 10 Picks of the 2012 NFL Draft

Talk about an interesting first several picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. With the first two picks being locked, it seemed things were going to be a little lacking in the excitement department. All in all, 4 of the first 5 picks were traded. Here is the recap.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went 1-2 and surprised nobody. About half an hour before the draft started, the Vikings traded the 3rd pick to the Browns, who selected Alabama do it all back Trent Richardson. Minnesota selected Kalil at 4 and Jacksonville moved up to 5th and finally got a receiver in Justin Blackmon. Dallas moved up from 14th by trading with the Rams and got LSU standout Morris Claiborne. Tampa Bay ended up with Mark Barron from Alabama and, in a move that shocked nobody, the Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill.  Rounding out the top 10 were the Panthers, who selected Luke Kuechly, and the Bills, who added Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina.

Biggest Surprises: St. Louis traded down yet again and the Cowboys paid a big price to move up. St. Louis gave the Cowboys the 6th pick while gaining the 14th overall pick and the 45th pick (2nd).

Riskiest Pick: This is easily the Dolphins. Tannehill is a quarterback with a ton of question marks. It will be interesting to see how he does in Miami.

Take it to the Bank: Both the Colts and the Redskins got their quarterbacks. Both of these guys are going to be great to watch and should make an immediate impact on two terrible teams. The same can be said for the Panthers and Kuechly. Kuechly will be a productive and intelligent player for the Panthers who will be a tackling machine.

Charger Madness Big Board: Top 10 Prospects

With the draft set to begin in just over two hours, here is the Charger Madness Top 10 Prospects Big Board.

1) Andrew Luck
2) Robert Griffin III
3) Morris Claiborne
4) Justin Blackmon
5) Trent Richardson
6) Matt Kalil
7) Mark Barron
8) Fletcher Cox
9) Luke Kuechly
10) Riley Reiff

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Duke Ihenacho

Duke Ihenacho is a player who has certainly turned some heads while at San Jose State. He has spent time at both linebacker and safety and brings a good skill set. Could the Chargers be willing to take a pass on players like Harrison Smith and Mark Barron?

Position: SS
Weight: 213 lbs.
Height: 6' 0''

Pros: Duke Ihenacho is a player who has experience at both linebacker and safety, just like Notre Dame prospect Harrison Smith. Ihenacho is very aggressive when coming up against the run and has a long lean frame. He has the ability to time snaps and get a good jump on opponents which makes him a backfield menace.  Duke has high enough speed to handle working in the secondary but the mentality to play linebacker and make the big hit. he is a smart and productive player who was an All-WAC player at both linebacker and safety.

Cons: His aggressive play can cause him to overract and be caught out of position, especially on good play fakes. He doesn't have great agility and may be a liability in man coverage at this point in his career. His top end speed isn't anything too impressive, but he should make a difference.

San Diego really needs a thumper who can come up and provide run support. The AFC West figures to feature a deep running game yet again, so the Chargers need all the help they can get. Could he be the physical force the Chargers have been looking for since the departure of Rodney Harrison?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Will the 2012 Charger Madness NFL Mock Draft Hold Up?

With the draft just two days away, I thought it might be good to see how my draft holds up against both the actual draft and a few other drafts. Following the draft, I will post the results and we will see just how I stacked up. If you have a draft you would like to submit, just send me and email and we can see about getting it on the site.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Marvin McNutt

The move to a pass happy NFL has seen the need for receivers increase more and more over the last several seasons. Even though the Chargers have added quality players through free agency in Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, it could never hurt to add quality depth through the draft. Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt is a player who is grading out somewhere around the 5th round but has some great potential.

Position: WR
Weight: 216 lbs.
Height: 6' 3''

Pros: McNutt is a prospect who has good height and can use his long arms to beat press coverage. He is a strong receiver who can make the catch away from his frame and always knows where the sticks are. McNutt is a long stider who can build up a good head of steam and has soft hands. While he has only been playing receiver for about 3 years, McNutt has shown plenty of potential, leading Iowa in receiving the last two seasons. He leaves Iowa with several school records.

Cons: McNutt isn't a speedy deep threat, having only average speed. He still needs to improve his route running. He has a tendency to round his routes off and tip the defensive backs off to his route. McNutt needs to continue to focus on learning the position. McNutt also has injury concerns, fighting both wrist and shoulder injuries last season.

McNutt is a bigger receiver who seems to fit the mold of a Norv Turner receiver who very well may have a future in San Diego.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Official 2012 San Diego Chargers Schedule

Here is the official 2012 regular season schedule for the San Diego Chargers.

Week 1: September 10th at Oakland Raiders  ESPN (MNF)
Week 2: September 16th vs Tennessee Titans CBS
Week 3: September 23rd vs Atlanta Falcons FOX
Week 4: September 30th at Kansas City Chiefs CBS
Week 5: October 7th at New Orleans Saints NBC
Week 6: October 15th vs Denver Broncos ESPN (MNF)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: October 28th at Cleveland Browns CBS
Week 9: Novemer 1st vs Kansas City Chiefs NFLN (Thursday Night Football)
Week 10: November 11th at Tampa Bay Buccaneers CBS
Week 11: November 18th at Denver Broncos CBS
Week 12: November 25th vs Baltimore Ravens CBS
Week 13: December 2nd vs Cincinnati Bengals CBS
Week 14: December 9th at Pittsburgh Steelers CBS
Week 15: December 16th vs Carolina Panthers FOX
Week 16: December 23rd at New York Jets NBC
Week 17: December 30th vs Oakland Raiders CBS

Charger Madness 2012 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 17-32

17) Cincinnati Bengals- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Kirkpatrick will bring some much needed help to the secondary. I know that the team signed Terence Newman, but they only signed him to a one year deal. Kirkpatrick is the best corner after Claiborne. This is a team that surprised last year and now needs to add a few pieces to ensure that they remain competitive.

18) San Diego Chargers- Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State

McClellin has skyrocketed up draft boards and could very well be the kind of pass rusher the Chargers need. I know that Mark Barron is still on the board, but pass rush is a much more critical need for the Chargers. I had Cordy Glenn being selected here before, but I think pass rush is the biggest issue the team faces. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Chargers trade down a few picks to take McClellin.

19) Chicago Bears- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

I know that the Bears added Brandon Marshall, but they could still use some help at receiver. Wright would be a good receiver to bring into the Bears organization. He is a quick receiver (40 time at the combine not withstanding) who can be a great player for the Bears who can stretch the field and work underneath.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Adonis Thomas

Thomas actually isn't expected to be drafted in the draft, but you never know with how things can break down in regards to the late rounds of the draft. Still, Thomas should be a highly intriguing undrafted free agent.

Position: RB
Weight: 185 lbs.
Height: 5' 9''

Pros: Thomas is an incredibly versatile back who has extensive experience coming out of the backfield as a receiver. Toledo utilized his talents very well. Even though he missed a handful of games with a broken bone in his arm, he still produced at a high level and was a big part in Toledo's great games this year. He has great agility and acceleration, often leaving defenders grasping for air while at Toledo. For all the bigger he is, he can be surprisingly effective running between the tackles.

Cons: Thomas doesn't have great top end speed. That may be the thing that holds him back the most. He also has injury concerns, which may cause teams to pass on him. Thomas also has happy feet and tends to try and dance around to much at times, which causes negative plays. He also doesn't have much of a power  game to him. As to be expected of most rookie backs, he also struggles in pass protection.

Thomas has a lot of upside and could be the replacement for Sproles that the Chargers have been looking for since his departure. He may be a late pick or a free agent pick up, still, keep an eye on him regardless of where he goes (if he goes).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Brian Quick

The Chargers have done a good job bringing in a talented group of receivers in the wake of the Vincent Jackson departure, but I would not be surprised to see the team take a look at several of the bigger receivers in the draft this year. San Diego has done a good job finding talented receivers the last several years, and one they may look at heavily is Appalachian State prospect Brian Quick.

Position: WR
Weight: 220 lbs.
Height: 6' 4''

Pros: Quick is actually quick for a big guy. He has deceptive speed and can use his physical size to get a great release off the line against smaller defensive backs. He has strong hands and can readjust well to bad passes and can manipulate his body to make the catch. He is an active blocker in the running game and is willing to do the dirty work to ensure success. He has the power to break tackles underneath. When combined with his speed, he is a threat each time he has the ball. With good acceleration and agility, Quick can become a special talent.

Cons: The biggest knock on Quick is his route running. If he can't blow by a defender or use his athleticism to overpower a defender, he can become neutralized on a play.  He needs some serious work in this area, but it should come with time. It was rumored that he didn't actually have any position coaching while at Appalachian State. He needs to keep his legs moving while blocking instead of just hitting the person across from him. He does have some concentration issues, but these should be something he can overcome.

Quick brings a great skill set to the table and should be drafted within the first three rounds.  It is interesting to note that Quick was one of only two remaining players on the Appalachian State team last year that upset Michigan in 2007.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Michael Egnew

Athletic tight ends are becoming more and more necessary in the NFL today. The Chargers are already crowded at the tight end position, but they could still bring in a rookie through the draft. With that in mind, here is the Charger Madness profile on Missouri tight end Michael Egnew.

Position: TE
Weight: 252 lbs.
Height: 6' 5''

Pros: Egnew is basically a very tall and slightly slower receiver. He has great height and length. Egnew has enough speed to really make a defense pay and can line up in the slot. Egnew has good situational awareness, always knowing where the marker is. He can adjust well to low balls and works the sideline well. Even with all of his speed and finesse, Egnew is a player who doesn't shy away from contact. He has the ability to truck smaller defenders in the secondary. He is a matchup nightmare waiting to happen if used properly.

Cons: Egnew didn't do a great job blocking while at Missouri. He is an effort blocker and most likely won't be asked to do too much blocking in the NFL. If he can improve, then all the better for him. His routes could use a bit more work, with some added crispness needed. There is the potential for him to add some mass, especially in the upper body.

Egnew is part of a new generation of tight ends that are taking the NFL by storm. Egnew was a basketball star in high school, as so many of this new breed were. He has good potential and could develop well learning from Antonio Gates. The best part is that he is grading out only in the 3rd or 4th round. He has the potential to be available later in the draft and could be a great investment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

San Diego's Biggest Needs

With the draft basically a week away, lets take a look at the Chargers biggest needs after free agency.

1) Pass Rush: This is the biggest area that the Chargers still need to address. The good news is that there are a large amount of prospects available at several stages of the draft. The team could take a player like USC's Nick Perry or Illinois one year wonder Whitney Mercilus at 18, trade down into the later part of the first round and take a player like Shea McClellin. Still further down the draft are prospects like Zach Brown of North Carolina, Vinny Curry from Marshall, and Jonathan Massaquoi from Troy. The Chargers are setting pretty good in regards to addressing this need.

2) Both Lines: The Chargers have done a good job for the most part in addressing the needs on both sides of the ball with these areas. Still, the Chargers should be looking to take a proactive approach with these positions. Antonio Garay and Luis Castillo aren't getting any younger, so some additional depth with the potential to join the rotation would be a wise move. The offensive line is a bit better, especially after the resignings of Jared Gaither and Nick Hardwick. Still, the team may want to target someone it the draft to compete for the open battle at the left guard position. Players like Georgia mountain Cordy Glenn, Northwestern State prospect Amaini Silatolu, and Iowa State player Kelechi Osemele, just to name a few, could add some key depth to the Chargers offensive lines.

3) Depth in General: The biggest reason that most people point to for the Chargers recent lack of success is the massive extent of injuries that the team has had to deal with over the last couple of years. With this in mind, the Chargers need to ensure that they are developing the back half of the roster well. This could be the difference between making the playoffs or having another bad season. The Houston Texans are a perfect example of this. How many seasons did they have a great first team offense only to struggle constantly with injuries. I know that the defensive changes helped, but the development of that back half of the roster made a huge difference.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Vinny Curry

Pass rushers are at a premium in the league today. A team can never have enough pass rushers. Having a good rotation and reserves is critical. With that in mind, here is the next Charger Madness draft profile for Marshall star Vinny Curry.

Position: DE/OLB
Weight: 266 lbs.
Height: 6' 3''

Pros: This guy can flat out play ball. He might not be the fastest, but he gets the job done. He is a smart player and has the strength to bull rush opposing linemen. He does a good job getting under an opponents pads to push them around. He has good techniques and can approach rushing the passer several different ways. He is a team leader both on and off the field and seems to have great character. He is a strong tackler and does a good job spinning off the pile to get the ball carrier. Curry also is always flying to the ball and doesn't hesitate to throw himself into the pile. He also has a propensity for causing fumbles, recording 7 last year.

Cons: The big issue with him is that he seems to fade down the stretch during the course of a game. This can be overcome with better conditioning. he will most likely need some time to transition from DE to OLB, and his zone skills will probably take some time to develop. He needs to rein in his playing style a bit because he sometimes ends up playing out of control. Discipline will fix those minor issues.

Curry is a prospect who seems to do just about everything right both on and off the field. His level of competition was much better than people think. He has a lot of potential and what seems like very few weaknesses.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Zach Brown

Zach Brown is a prospect that has scouts scratching their heads. On one end, he is an incredibly gifted athlete who possess impressive speed for a linebacker. On the other, there are questions about his instincts and physicality. With all of this, Brown is sure to be all over the place on different draft boards.

Position: OLB
Weight: 244 lbs
Height 6' 1''

Pros: Brown has one of the most coveted assets in a pass rushing linebacker, which is pure speed. He clocked in at a 4.44 in the 40 yard dash at the combine. That kind of speed can't be taught. He has the ability to recover when beat and still have an impact on the play. He can be a sideline to sideline force against the run game and has a great burst to get into the backfield. He reacts quickly when the ball is in the air or on the ground, using his athleticism to be a huge threat on fumble recoveries and interceptions.

Cons: For his size, he is not very physical at all. He doesn't have much in terms of pass rush moves outside of just using his speed. If he were to develop some techniques, he would be a great rusher. For now though, he is a one trick pony. If he fails to get by a blocker with his speed, he is in trouble. Opposing linemen are able to stalemate him if he doesn't get by. His read and react skills leave much to be desired, but this can improve with time. He doesn't have as much strength behind his tackles as you would think a person his size would have.

Brown is a player who has amazing potential, but would need some great coaching to reach it. If he can improve his read and react skills and maybe get a bit more physical, he can develop into something special. I look for him to last no later than the 2nd round.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

San Diego Signs 2

Two more free agents have joined the San Diego Chargers as of yesterday. One is a familiar face, the other new. FB Jacob Hester has returned to the San Diego Chargers even though the team signed Le'Ron McClain during free agency. Hester, who was a 3rd round selection, from LSU, of the Chargers in the 2008 NFL Draft, will see time on special teams and may be rotated in as a goal line back. It is nice to see Hester return to the Chargers.

The other signing was one that fans had been hearing about for awhile now. Tackle Mario Henderson officially joined the Chargers. Henderson, who was cut by the Raiders last year because he showed up to camp out of shape, will provide depth to the offensive line. He has experience at both left and right tackle. Henderson, a 4th round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, appeared in 44 games, of which 28 were starts, for the Raiders. Henderson played college football at Florida State University.

In other news, long snapper Mike Wendt and guard/tackle Brandyn Dombrowski signed their one year contract tenders. Wendt was an exclusive rights free agent while Dombrowski was a restricted free agent,

With the draft only a handful of days away, these signings free the Chargers up as to how they approach the draft. By having depth at certain positions, the team can focus on other areas of the team.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chargers Mock Draft 2.0 Picks 1-16

1) Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Same as last time. The Colts are going to get their replacement to Peyton Manning. Luck has everything that a team could want in a franchise quarterback. It almost seems unfair that the Colts get the chance to draft two franchise quarterbacks back to back.

2) Washington Redskins- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Remember what we said about Andrew Luck? Pretty much the same things applies Robert Griffin III. He brings great athleticism to the position and can make all the throws needed in the NFL. Washington fans are finally getting a franchise quarterback after waiting for so many years.

3) Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil, T, USC

The Vikings picked Christian Ponder last year, and now they have to build around him. They have decent  receivers and a great running game, so the biggest issue is keeping Ponder upright. Kalil is a dominate tackle who should be a cornerstone for the Vikings for years to come.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Mychal Kendricks

A versatile player is always a good thing for any team to have. With that in mind, here is the draft profile for California ILB Mychal Kendricks.

Position: ILB/OLB/SS
Weight: 240 lbs.
Height: 5' 11''

Pros: Kendricks is an athletic and versatile player who played both inside and outside linebacker in college. There is also talk of him being able to transition to SS in the NFL.  Some wondered if he had the speed to play that position, but he put that to rest by running a 4.47 40 yard dash time. He has great awareness and generally does a good job staying at home. He is a high motor player who goes all out on every play. He is an effective tackler who hits hard despite his size and plays downhill. Kendricks possesses good footwork and has a great closing burst.

Cons: His biggest knock is his size. At only 5' 11'', many scouts are wondering if he can hold up at inside linebacker. He is somewhat stiff in the hips and can get engulfed by blockers and end up knocked back on his feet. He needs to make sure he wraps up better with tackles instead of always going for the big hit. He also has some concerns with injuries, injuring both his shoulder and thumb last season. Even with this, he still earned the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He doesn't have the best change of direction ability, which could really hurt him if a team wants to transition him to SS.

Kendricks is a player who, regardless of where he goes or what position he will play, will contribute to a team in a variety of ways. He is an intriguing prospect who should be on the Chargers radar. With his potential to play SS, he might be able to learn under Atari Bigby and compete with Stuckey for playing time. He should immediately contribute on special teams. He seems like the kind of player who will be nipping at the heels of those above him on the depth chart. Competition is always a good thing for a team, both internally and externally.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chargers Draft Prospects: Kevin Zeitler

Next up is Wisconsin's All-American guard Kevin Zeitler. While he played right guard in college, he has the strength and power to play either side.

Positon: G
Weight: 314 lbs.
Height: 6' 4''

Pros: What is not to like about this guy? He is a physical mauler who is a beast in the trenches. he played in a zone scheme at Wisconsin, but I see him as a fit in any system. He spends a lot of time studying film and is a relentless worker on the field and in the weight room. He pays attention to all the details and does things by the book. He has great strength to move defenders out of the way and seeks out contact at the second level. He comes out of his stance strong and can maintain outside leverage well. He also can handle doubling up on the NT and is great at using his hands in pass blocking to reset and keep defenders at bay.

Cons: There really isn't much that this guy does bad. He isn't the fastest lineman and doesn't have the greatest agility. Most of his other issues seem to be things that can easily be changed with coaching. He has a tendency to push smaller defenders away instead of wrapping them up. This can allow those defenders to come free and make a play. The other big issue is that he tends to duck his head at times. If he can fix these technique issues, he should be fine.

I know that he played right guard, but I can see him playing both sides. He is a perfectionist who plays mean and should be a great pickup for any team. He is projected as high as a late 1st rounder to a 3rd round prospect.

Saints Penalties are Upheld and Joe Vitt Sitting Pretty

In an announcement that surprised nobody, Commissioner Goodell has upheld the suspensions he originally handed down to the New Orleans Saints. I know that the Saints had every right to challenge and appeal the ruling, but did they really think that they would get anything major changed? I know that there is talk of the Saints receiving the 2013 second round pick back, but I expect them to still pay a heavy fee for their actions. I have to give Goodell props for sticking to the punishment. The Saints better prepare for a rough year. It also appears that Parcells is out of the running to be the interim head coach for the Saints and it appears that assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt is who the team is leaning towards.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

San Diego Chargers Draft Picks

With the draft just a handful of days away, here is a look at all of the picks that the Chargers have.

Round 1: 18th
Round 2: 49th
Round 3: 78th
Round 4: 110th
Round 5: 149th
Round 6: 183rd
Round 7: 226th
Round 7: 250th

With these picks, San Diego is in a prime position to trade down in the first round, either to a team looking to get back into the first round or someone looking to move up a few spots to lock up a player like Alabama safety Mark Barron or Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Free Agents Receive Jersey Numbers

The San Diego Chargers have been very active in free agency even if they haven't been making the biggest splashes. They have added a number of quality players at several positions that will either start or provide great depth. One of the more interesting issues that comes up after the ink has dried is the issue of jersey numbers. Some players are attached to certain numbers, having used them their whole career. The issue ends up that a player on the new team already wears that number. At this point, there are two solutions. First, accept a new number and start a new chapter. Second, pay for the number. This is always an interesting case because it doesn't have to be just cash. Just ask how good this can be for former Giants punter Jeff Feagles. Feagles swapped numbers twice in New York, earning a paid vacation to Florida for his family (Eli Manning/10) and a renovated kitchen (Plaxico, 17, never paid). Here is the list of new free agents and their new numbers and extra information when possible.

#6: Charlie Whitehurst, QB (same number he wore with team before trade to Seattle)
#11: Eddie Royal, WR (wore number 19 in Denver)
#12: Robert Meachem (wore number 17 in New Orleans)
#13: Roscoe Parrish (wore number 11 in Buffalo)
#27: Atari Bigby (wore number 20 in Green Bay and number 27 in Seattle)
#33: Le'Ron McClain (wore 44 in Kansas City and 33 in Baltimore)
#41: Nick Polk (was a member of the team who missed all of last season)
#50: Ricky Elmore (wore number 57 with Green Bay)
#58: Demorrio Williams (wore number 51 in Atlanta and 53 in Kansas City)
#87: Michael Spurlock (wore numbers 17, 81 in Tampa Bay and 18 in San Francisco)
#88: Donte Rosario (wore number 88 in Carolina and 49 in Denver)
#96: Jarret Johnson (wore number 95 in Baltimore, used by Shaun Phillips)

Chargers Draft Prospects: Whitney Mercilus

Next up for the Charger Madness draft profiles is Illinois one year wonder Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus was a one year starter, and boy did he make the best of it. He has climbed higher and higher on many draft boards and is expected to be selected sometime in the bottom half of the first round. Many mocks have him being selected by the Chargers.

Position: DE/OLB
Weight: 261 lbs.
Height: 6' 4''

Pros: This guy has great acceleration and possesses pure speed for the position, perhaps his biggest upside. Mercilus has great hand use and is a pain to block, possessing the wiggle to worm his way to the quarterback. This flexibility allows him to gain good positioning against linemen. He is a player who doesn't shy away from contact and is very physical in the trenches. He is a very good tackler and does a great job wrapping up ball carriers and bringing them down. His length allows him to make a reach and have an impact on the play and has good hand placement. He finished the season with 16 sacks (1st in the nation), 22.5 tackles for loss, and 9 forced fumbles (school record and 2nd in NCAA history).

Cons: People will knock that he only had one year of starting experience in college, but when he got the chance, he produced. He doesn't focus on technique to much and is still developing his snap anticipation. He doesn't have the best hips and tends to play high. My biggest concern is his lack of change of direction ability. If he is going to play OLB, he will have to react to the play and recover quickly at times.

Whitney Mercilus is a player who has great potential and should hear his name called early. While he would be learning a new position if he is selected by the Chargers, he has the potential to become a great pass rusher. With his ability to force fumbles and efficiency as a tackler, he should be able to develop into a player who can play every down. This would be a great pickup for the Chargers. What is best is that the team may be able to trade down to select him somewhere around the early 20's. That would be a win/win for the team.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bill Simmons View on the Battle to Change the Culture of the NFL

Bill Simmons at has a great piece on the uphill battle that player safety faces in trying to change the culture of the NFL, as well as a critic of the actions of the league to date. This is a great piece. Check it out through the link below.

Tapes of William's Pre-Game Speech Could Be Final Nail in the Coffin

It just seems to be getting worse for Gregg Williams and company. With the recent release of the audio/video for Williams pre-game motivational speech before the 49ers game, the evidence and extent of the bounty system in place in New Orleans. The audio is disturbing. I know that some players are saying that it isn't that bad, but I have to disagree. I can excuse the example of taking out the head and killing the body as an example, but to specifically mention going after a player's ACL is disgusting. Saying that you are going to go after a player in any way like that is beyond comprehension. It is one thing to play the game physically and try to be a punisher on defense, but to target like that is beyond belief. I know that teams do this more than we want to believe, but this goes beyond the idea of certain players taking this actions. To have a coach basically say that he is personally going to pay for the first hit on Alex Smith is just wrong. This raises the question of how in the world Sean Payton couldn't have known about this. I doubt that this is the first speech that went like this, and this guy is under you. How could you not have known?

People can argue the morals of Pamphilon releasing the tapes without the consent of Steve Gleason, the fact remains that what was stated is horrible. I think that he had an obligation to report this. People will question the release of the tapes, if they should have been given to the league offices or held, but in the end, it is a moot point. Pamphilon may well have opened himself up to a lawsuit or two, both from Gleason and the Saints as an organization.

Williams can forget ever being in the NFL after this. Just imagine the fan outrage if this guy gets back in. I don't see him getting a job in football at the collegiate level either. Teams have to worry enough about rouge boosters paying players. Why bring in a coach with a reputation like Williams? I will say that Williams was a great coordinator and was a big part in the Saints turnaround and their Super Bowl win. All of that doesn't matter anymore. Williams has soiled what should have been a great legacy. He may get a job, but his reputation is destroyed.

I don't always agree with the way that Goodell player safety issues, but this time he got it right. This should never be allowed to happen.

For those of you who want to listen to the audio, a link is provided below. Be warned, this is neither workplace or children appropriate and the language is strong to say the least.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spurlock Joins the Chargers

It appears that the Chargers are adding even more depth at wide receiver and returner with the signing of former Buc Micheal Spurlock. Spurlock has spent time with several teams in the league and is mainly a return specialist. His most memorable moment came in 2007, when he returned a kickoff 90 yards against the Atlanta Falcons for the Bucs. It was the first kick returned for a touchdown in Buccaneers history. At that time, the team had already been in existence for 32 years. San Diego appears to be stockpiling depth at reciever and returner. This now gives the Chargers 4 viable options in the return game with Eddie Royal, Micheal Spurlock, Roscoe Parrish, and Richard Goodman. I have to think that at least 1 if not 2 of these players will be cut before the start of the season. If I am Richard Goodman, I am on my toes.

Luis Castillo Returns

The San Diego Chargers have announced that they have signed DE Luis Castillo back to the team on a 1 year contract. Castillo missed all but part of the preseason opener last season with a broken leg. The team cut his in a salary cap move. He rejoins the team on a much cheaper deal. Catillo is a former first round selection for the Chargers and rejoins Antonio Garay in resigning with the team. It appears that the Chargers defensive line will look much the same as last year with Garay and Thomas holding the middle and Castillo, Martin, Cesaire, and Liuget on the ends. It will be interesting to see if San Diego is pleased enough to offer Castillo a long term deal at the end of the season. By signing him to a 1 year deal, they ensure that they are making a minimal investment given his injury and can possibly gain a maximum reward of Castillo returning to form. This is a smart move by the Chargers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Look Ahead: Biggest Games on the Chargers Schedule

While the official schedule has not been set, teams do know who they will be playing. With that in mind, here are 5 games to watch this season.

1) Denver at San Diego

I know that this game will happen twice this year, so lets go with the Chargers home game against the Broncos. This game has serious draw. With the exception of the Patriots, no team vexed Manning more while in Indy than the Chargers. Rivers gets to dual with Manning at home. Denver is possibly the only team in the league that will look so different and is a division rival. What is there not to like?

2) Baltimore at San Diego

The Ravens are one of the most physical teams in the NFL. This game will be brutal, regardless of the final score. The Ravens are one of 6 teams the Chargers play that were playoff teams last year. The Ravens advanced the farthest of any of the 6. With the influx of former Ravens on the team, expect this to be a great battle.

3) San Diego at New Orleans

I know that the Saints defense is going to be hindered during at least part of the season, but we don't yet know when the Chargers will be playing the Saints. What we will have is two great offenses going toe to toe. This game should be an offensive highlight reel waiting to happen. New Charger Robert Meachem gets a homecoming game against his former team and the Chargers face former quarterback Drew Brees.

4) San Diego at New York Jets

These two teams have produced some good games the last few years, and there is a bit of bad blood. We get to hear Rex Ryan run his big trap for a whole week about this game, which is always entertaining. What is most intriging is that San Diego just may end up facing Tebow this year after all.

5) San Diego at Tampa Bay

This game has been on the radar ever since Vincent Jackson signed with the Bucs. While the Bucs took a step back last year, this is still a very talented team with plenty of youth. The Chargers should be looking forward to this one, especially after all of the headaches that Jackson caused the last two years.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

San Diego Chargers Add More Depth at Receiver

The Chargers have added yet more depth at the receiver position today, signing former Bills receiver Roscoe Parrish to a 1 year contract. Parrish was mainly a punt returner for the Bills. Parrish is injury prone, having missed a total of 22 games the last 2 seasons. He missed 8 in 2010 due to a broken wrist and 14 games in 2011 due to an ankle sprain. It seems that Parrish will be injury assurance for new Chargers receiver Eddie Royal. Parrish was selected in the 2nd round (55th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft. Parrish was a speedster who impressed the Bills with a 40 yard dash time of 4.37 seconds. He struggled with injuries throughout his career with the Bills. At worst, he ends up on IR while only having a 1 year contract. This is a great value pickup due to his return ability and cheap price. The odd man out may be Richard Goodman, who was expected to be the backup returner. I would imagine a position battle between these two in camp.

Chargers Draft Prospects: Jonathan Massaquoi

This draft seems to be full of potentially great pass rushers. There are the obvious big name guys we have all been talking about such as Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus, and others. Looking a bit deeper into the draft, we find Troy prospect Jonathan Massaquoi. Massaquoi is a talent that many feel is better than what some think.

Position: OLB
Weight: 264 lbs.
Height: 6' 2''

Pros: Massaquoi has great size at the position but also has good flexibility, being able to change direction quickly. He possesses good stunting and twisting ability, being able to come after the quarterback. His long arms allow him to recover when he over-pursues or gets caught out of position. He is able to get into the backfield and blowup running plays and has good awareness. He is a player who is willing to spend the time in the weight room, adding 50 pounds since his senior year of high school.

Cons: For all of his ability and awareness, he does seem to get caught out of position. He can play overagressively and needs to develop more discipline when playing assignment football. He played out of position in a way at Troy, playing DE in a 3 man front. Still, he produced good numbers in his 2 years. He leaves production on the field an can disappear for stretches of games. The biggest weakness is his weakness in his read/react ability.

Massaquoi is a player who just may be starting to scratch the surface of his potential. He may have a rough time transitioning to OLB, but the potential and talent are there. With his athleticism as his biggest asset, he should be an intriguing prospect.

New Uniforms Unveiled Today

Just a heads up, the new Nike uniforms are set to be unveiled at any moment. It should be noted that these may not be as radical as we think for two reasons.

1) The NFL only allows teams to redesign their uniforms every 5 years.

2) Each team gets the final say in what their uniforms look like.

Stay tuned for updates on the new uniforms. New team gear from Nike goes on sale April 26th, the first day of the draft.

Here is ESPN's uni watch page.

Update: Here is a look at the new uniforms

Monday, April 2, 2012

Optimum Scouting 2012 Small School Prospects List

As you may have seen, Charger Madness has profiled a few small school corners recently. Players from smaller schools don't always get as much attention as they deserve. Year in and year out, players from these schools impress teams and can make a huge difference. Seriously, take a look at the roster for any team and you will be surprised at the amount of small school guys on them. With that in mind, the staff at Optimum Scouting have put together a great list of small school prospects, complete with draft round grades, at their website. To take a look, just click on the link below.

The Missing Pieces

With the first wave of free agency done with, the next focus for teams is the draft. Each year, there always seems to be a piece that a team needs, and the Chargers are no different. This year, the Chargers have needs at three areas that stand out.

1) Pass Rush: This is what people see as the biggest need for the team, and that argument can certainly be made. The team as a whole only had one player, Antwan Barnes, record more than 4 sacks. Barnes was responsible for 11 of the teams 32 sacks, which was good enough for 23rd in the league. That number has got to improve. Since San Diego runs a 3-4 scheme, that pressure has to come from the linebackers. With prospects like Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry available, San Diego may look long and hard at upgrading this position in the first round.

2) Offensive Line: With the resigning of Hardwick and Gaither, the offensive line situation improved greatly. Still, the team could still use help. The LG spot is still up for grabs. I know that A.J. Smith has talked about allowing Tyronne Green and Brandyn Dombrowski the chance to compete for the starting job, but I wouldn't rule out a rookie being drafted and thrown into the mix. As much as the team has endorsed Clary on the right side, the public perception is not the same. Bringing in a lineman who could play both guard and tackle would both provide key depth and a challenge for both positions.

3) Secondary: Chargers fans have long been looking for an answer at SS. We have seen a revolving door of players come through and try to fill the position. Bigby seems like another player who may fill in for a season or two (I hope he is as good as A.J. thinks he is). There has been talk of moving Jammer to safety at some point to close out his career, which I think would be a good move for all parties involved. Either way, the team could stand to add some depth and talent in this unit. With the exception of SS, the starters are all good. I expect the team to either draft a safety high or find a hybrid corner/safety player at some point in the draft.

With the draft right around the corner, we will soon find out the team's plan. Will this be the year that A.J. gets it right, or will we once again be scratching our heads?