Antoine Cason A Great Pick For The Chargers

I'm at an internet cafe in Thailand, checking in to see what kind of deal the Chargers pulled off to bundle up some draft picks and low and behold, the Chargers stayed at 27 and got an excellent player. Who would have thought?

The thing I like about AJ Smith is that he doesn't make draft day trades for the sake of trading. If the there is a good deal to be made, he'll jump on it. But the team is also just as content to stay put and select the best player left on the board, and this year it was Arizona Cornerback Antonie Cason.

While I have been very vocal about the need to add additional defensive linemen, I have also had defensive back and offensive tackle among my top three biggest needs for the team; with a staggering eight offensive tackles selected between picks 1 through 26, all the offensive linemen with first round grades were gone by the time the Chargers time on the clock began.

First round Defensive tackle prospects were also not numerous and while Kentwan Balmer, Trevor Laws, and Philip Merling were available, I was not very high on any of those three and questioned their fit with the San Diego Chargers.

Running back is also a big need for the Chargers but again, a significant number of top prospects were off the board and the value simply wasn't there for a guy like Matt Forte or Ray Rice at pick 27.

As for safeties, everyone in the draft was still on the board but the Chargers obviously like the idea of Paul Oliver moving to safety and drafting a first round safety like Kenny Phillips would have caused a bit of a log jam, especially because you are counting on him to contribute right away and there simply wasn't room on the roster for him to do so.

So this brings us back to the cornerbacks and the draft class was deep with them, which was a big bonus for the Bolts. Brandon Flowers was a guy who many were projecting the Chargers were going to draft but I was honestly sceptical about his pro prospect potential. He is pretty undersized for the position and while he dominated at the collegiate level, there were some potential red flags concerning his character. Flowers eventually went off the board just a handful of picks later to the Kansas City Chiefs, so it'll be interesting to see how the careers of Flowers and Cason blossom in the AFC West.

Cason has something the Chargers love in a prospect: production. The guy simply lit it up at the college level. A four year starter with a ton of interceptions, ridiculously good character, and Southern California roots. I watched Cason's interviews at the Combine and was blown away with how eloquent he is. The guy speaks like a man who is 41, not 21. Antonie was first team All-American, and is also the 2007 Jim Thorpe award winner which basically means he was the best defensive back in the nation last year.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the addition of Cason into the backfield and his presence as the third corner will make it extremely difficult for teams to throw the ball on the Chargers. While I admit that I didn't hype Cason to the Chargers much on this blog, he was certainly a guy who I filed away in the back of my head as someone who would look surprisingly good in Bolts.

As for the Chargers, it looks like they'll continue the trend of selecting linemen late in the draft...is anyone surprised?

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April 26, 2008

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