There is plenty of uncertainty right now in the NFL universe but the NFL draft is one thing fans can count on. The San Diego Chargers have more riding on this draft than they have in recent memory due to a host of chronic injuries and ineffective drafting in years past. Who the Chargers should select with their top picks will be a hotly debated topic in Chargers fandom. What general positions the Chargers need to draft for to help solidify their roster is, arguably, easier to estimate.
The Chargers have struggled to maintain consistent quality at the safety position since Rodney Harrison was prematurely released from the team after the 2002 season. The team seems very happy with the performance of Eric Weddle, but this defense has lacked that hard-hitting, fear imposing guy at linebacker or safety that makes opposing receivers and tight-ends think twice about running across the middle. Hard-hitting but ineffective sixth round pick Kevin Ellison was once anointed the savior opposite Weddle, but that only showed how truly desparate the Chargers were to find help at the position. Last year the Chargers drafted Darrell Stuckey in the fourth round with an eye toward grooming him to fill the glaring need in the secondary. Stuckey was injured early in 2010 and spent most of the season watching and learning. Is he the long-term answer opposite Weddle? He is smart and quick, and this a not a safety-strong draft. I'm betting they will stick with Stuckey for better or for worse in 2010, and look for AJ Smith to draft a safety, but not one who seriously contends for a starting spot right away.
Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. The Chargers are about to need help at the linebacker position. Show me a linebacker not named Phillips, and I’ll show you a free agent with no guarantee of wearing lightning bolts next season, or a lifelong backup. With first round pick Larry English failing to live up to first round expectations, and their remaining back-ups being no better than back-ups, the Chargers need help at linebacker. Most likely, a lot of help at linebacker.
No Chargers fans, Luis Castillo isn’t going anywhere. But Jacques Cesaire is a free agent and Vaughn Martin is not ready to take over. The Chargers need help on the defensive line and the 2011 draft is the most likely place to fill that need. There are a few good defensive ends who should be around when the Chargers draft at number 18 in the first round, so this seems to be a good position to bet on for the Bolts first pick on April 28.
Jerome Clary fans will once again hear the barbs coming from most Chargers fans this offseason. It seems that every year, the cries go out for an upgrade at right tackle, and every year those requests are ignored. Could this be the year that a new right tackle takes over for Clary? I doubt it. Hey, I’m all for an upgrade on the offensive line, which, in the opinion of many experts, is one of the most important units in football. But it's also hard to ignore the fact that Clary played more snaps than any other lineman. You can bet AJ will not ignore that stat.
One could argue that the Chargers need some help at other positions, but these are the major areas of need from my point of view. Any of these positions has the possibility of being filled at number 18 in the first around except safety, where there just doesn't seem to be a pick worthy of the middle of round-one. Then again, picking a safety in a spot like that seems like AJ's style. Then again, picking a position that isn't a serious need also seems like AJ's style. Can anyone see the Bolts picking up another running back in the first round? Ugh.
Your thoughts on the major needs to be filled by the Chargers in the 2011 NFL Draft? Sound off below!
Labels: NFL Draft 2011
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