Drafting A Starting Receiver Should Be Focus Of Day One

The following piece was written by Ivan Abrahim, also known as RipTheJacker

Its hard to find fault with an offense that ranked #1 last year in points scored and 4th in total offense. When you consider that the Chargers have the league's best player and reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's best Tight End in Antonio Gates, and a rising young signal-caller in Philip Rivers, it would seem that all the pieces are in place. No other team in the NFL had Pro Bowlers at Quarterback, Running Back, and Tight End. Factor in a great, young offensive line it becomes very difficult to find a flaw in this offense. In reality, there is still a missing piece. There is a missing dimension to the team, and adding the right player to fill this void could take this team to the next level.

With Vincent Jackson scheduled to be the #1 wide receiver this year, the Chargers have a guy with the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler, in the mold of a Terrell Owens without the attitude problems. At 6'5" 241lbs and running in the 4.45 range, Jackson is a major mismatch for any Defensive Back. But finding a wide receiver to go opposite him is where the Chargers' problem lays. Currently, there isn't a player on the roster that is qualified to be that solid #2 wide receiver to start opposite Jackson. Sure the Bolts have NFL-quality receivers on the depth chart, but do they have a championship-level player to assume the #2 role? Eric Parker showed this year that he might be too small for that role, and is probably better suited to be a slot receiver. After Parker the only other wide receiver the chargers have is Malcolm Floyd. Floyd has almost everything you want in a wide receiver. He's big (6'5" 225lbs), fairly fast (4.5 speed), and showed flashes this year of becoming a very good player. But Floyd has had major problem staying healthy, ending the last two seasons on Injured Reserve. Can the team afford to count on Floyd to play 16+ games next season?

Luckily for the Chargers, this is a very deep draft for the wide receiver position. As many as 15 receivers could go on the first day, and considering the Chargers will have 4 picks in the first 3 round (and could add even more by way of a Michael Turner trade), there is a very good shot the Bolts will land a quality #2 receiver in this draft, even if they choose to fill a different need in the first round.

Many feel the Chargers need to find a burner who will get stretch the field, but anyone who paid close attention to the tail end of this past season can tell you that isn't the problem. Over the final 5 games of the season (including the playoffs), Vincent Jackson had 6 catches of over 20 yards, 5 of which went for over 30 yards including a couple of passes that went for over 45 yards. Jackson will provide the deep speed for the Chargers offense. What they are really in need of is a reliable set of hands to go opposite him. Anyone who watched the playoff game saw the high number of drops for the Chargers offense, and that is something that needs to be addressed. With this in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if AJ Smith used a high pick on a guy like Sidney Rice, Steve Smith, Jason Hill or Anthony Gonzalez. While all four of these guys have question marks keeping then from being top picks, no one can question their hands. Rice might have the best hands of anyone in this draft not named Calvin Johnson. Steve Smith and Anthony Gonzalez were both overshadowed by their higher-profile college teammates (Dwayne Jarrett and Ted Ginn Jr.), but were both the guys that made their offense click by providing their QB's with a reliable target that moved the chains. Jason Hill alone was the entire Wazzu offense for two and a half seasons.

Add anyone one of those 4 to the chargers, and watch this offense really take off!

April 7, 2007

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