1) The Chargers already have solid corners in Quentin Jammer and Drayton Florence; where do you see Antonio Cromartie fitting in? Obviously Jammer will continue to start so indications point to a battle between Florence and Cromartie for the opposite spot. Last year Merriman didn't earn his starting job until well into the season but he still saw some playing time in the early weeks. Do you foresee a similar situation with Cromarite? Clearly playing Cornerback it is different than being a situational pass rusher, so how can the Chargers use Antonio's abilities as early as possible?
- I think as a rookie the best you want to hope for with Antonio Cromartie is a nickel job. I was and am as big of a fan of his as there is but he is obviously very raw and inexperienced and will need a lot of development. With that said he's just the type of athlete who can make things happen in limited opportunities. Don't look for him to start in 2006 but in the future he has the talent to be an elite #1 pro cornerback.
2) Marcus McNeil is another pick with off the chart measurables. But he also brings a proven track record with experience in a very good conference. Is it a surprise that he fell into the Chargers laps at pick 50? Considering the need at Left Tackle, was there a more capable player available at that point to start immediately? As far as areas to improve upon, will McNeil's upright style of play be as much of a factor considering NFL ends and linebackers are bigger players than his previous opponents? What kind of impact will he bring to the offensive line? If he starts over an injured Roman Oben and plays well, does he keep his job all season if he maintains consistency? Or would the Chargers be better served to have Oben starting as
soon as possible?
- I would say it's only a mild surprise that McNeill fell as far as he did just because there was always talk about the health of his back. In terms of his style of play he sure doesn't look pretty (too upright and stiff) but he was certainly able to get the job done at the college level. If healthy I don't think there's any doubt that he is going to have a starting job on the Chargers offensive line early in his career and he could be the top offensive tackle they have been searching for.
3) During Mini Camp, Charlie Whitehurst impressed me with his mechanics and ability to make all the throws. He has a strong arm and can also put an excellent touch on the ball. Third round Quarterbacks seem to have a good shot of starting in the NFL. What kind of career to do expect Whitehurst to have in the NFL. Why did he fall to the third round considering his size, ability, and pedigree?
- From a physical standpoint Whitehurst has always had everything you look for in a pro quarterback but he hasn't always played up to that ability, which was never more evident than during his horrendous junior season. I absolutely feel that Whitehurst has starting potential at the pro level, although I am not sure he will get that opportunity in San Diego. In terms of value I think that was a nice pickup for the Chargers and he could be the top backup signal caller they needed. On a side note I was very impressed with that I saw from Charlie in Mobile, AL at the Senior Bowl practices and felt he looked even better than Jay Cutler early in the week despite his arm being at less than full strength.
4) Tim Dobbins reminds me alot of a Zach Thomas in terms of size, tackling, and ability to play inside. He was very physical during mini camp and could provide impact tackles from the Middle Linebacker spot in the Chargers 3-4 scheme. What areas does Dobbins need to improve upon and why was he overlooked by so many teams? He seems to be that prototype 'thumper' that you like to have in the middle of the field. How does Dobbins match up against the running backs in the AFC, especially the AFC West?
- I think Dobbins is bigger and a much better athlete than Zach Thomas and he was a nice choice for San Diego because they needed some depth at inside linebacker. Physically Dobbins has the goods in terms of measurables but he doesn't always play up to them and may lack great instincts. Right now I see him as a situation run guy but he certainly has the speed and athleticism to do a better job in coverage so the potential is there for him to be more.
5) Where would you rank AJ Smith and Buddy Nix in terms of talent evaluation, both in the Draft and in Free Agency?
- It's hard to argue with the results and when you look at the Chargers depth chart they have done as good of a job as anyone in the league when it comes to getting starters and contributers out of the NFL Draft.
6) How do you like the Chargers chances this year to make the playoffs. Are they a Superbowl contender?
- I think the Chargers have an excellent chance of making the playoffs, although being in such a tough division will make things harder. The key will be Philip Rivers and if he goes through the typcial growing pains that most young quarterbacks do the team might have to take a step back this season. However if Rivers can manage the offense like Drew Brees did the team will be right in the thick of it in 2006, although Super Bowl might be a little optimistic with Rivers at the helm.
I would like to thank Scott Wright for talking the time to talk with me. Visit his excellent site at NFLDraftCountdown.com
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