A look at the Chargers heading into the 2011 NFL Draft; San Diego has the 18th pick in the first round.


Record – 9-7, in a roller coaster season for Norv Turner and his Chargers. They were 2-2, and then went to 2-5 with a three-game losing streak. San Diego got hot at that point winning four in a row and six of seven games.

Finish – they ended up one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West, finishing out of the top spot for the first time in five years. The Chargers finished one game ahead of the Raiders.

Playoffs – it as the first time in five years that the Chargers were not in the playoffs. They made it at the end of the 2009 season. San Diego’s most recent post-season victory was in 2007.


The Chargers control of the AFC West finally came to an end last year, thanks in two parts – the dramatic improvement of the Chiefs and the continued decline in the quality of the talent on the San Diego roster.

A.J. Smith had a hand in building that very talented roster in the 2000s when they seemed to annually start slow and come back with a strong stretch run to the playoffs. So many talented names have come off the roster in recent years, players like Shawne Merriman, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie, haven’t come back and been replaced by equal talents.

Committed to the NFL Draft for building the team, the Chargers will have to get moving in the first round


Offense – averaged 395.6 yards per game, the No. 1 offense in the NFL over the regular season. The Chargers scored 48 offensive touchdowns. They were No. 2 in passing yardage thanks to Rivers, who averaged 282.4 yards per game. Rivers had 30 TD passes compared to 13 interceptions, while throwing for 4,710 yards and completing 66 percent of his passes. His final passer rating was 101.8. No one receiver dominated catching the passes from Rivers, due largely to Jackson missing so much of the season because of his holdout. There were four receivers with more than 500 yards of catches, topped by TE Antonio Gates with 50 catches for 7782 yards and 10 TDs. In the running game, Michael Tolbert topped the numbers, running 182 times for 735 yards and 11 TDs. Rookie RB Ryan Mathews had 678 yards.

Defense – finished No. 1 in fewest yards allowed during the ’10 regular season, allowing just 271.6 yards. They were the No. 1 pass defense, allowing just 177.8 yards per game. Overall the San Diego defense gave up 32 touchdowns. The Chargers forced 23 turnovers and had 47 sacks. CB Antoine Cason led the defense with four INTs and the Chargers took 3 of their 16 interceptions back for TDs. LB Shaun Phillips led the pass rush with 11 sacks.

Special teams – K Nate Kaeding had some injury problems, but still missed only five of his 28 FG attempts, with 3 misses outside the 50-yard line. P Mike Scifres struggled as four of his punts were blocked over the season. When he was able to get the punt off, he averaged 46.7 yards per kick. But the Chargers net average was just 30.8 yards. In the return game, RB Darren Sproles averaged 24.6 yards on kickoff returns and 6.9 yards on punt returns. Coverage teams gave up four TD returns, including 3 on kickoff returns.


Who has the draft room juice? That’s A.J. Smith, the total, I’m in charge G.M. of this team. The buck stops with him, although it appears he might be Teflon coated.


1. Defensive end – The San Diego defense needs some difference makers and DE is a spot crying for a player to step into that role. There are plenty of them available in this year’s draft. Jacques Cesaire, who has started the past two seasons, is a free agent. Luis Castillo is on the other side.

2. Wide receiver. At the top of the Chargers depth chart at wide receiver, Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are likely to be unrestricted free agents. The Chargers won’t keep all three, and it figures Jackson will be gone because he’s going to cost the most to keep.

3. Inside linebacker. The top four inside backers are headed to unrestricted free agency. A possible starter is last year’s third-round choice Donald Butler who sat the out year with an Achilles’ injury. There appear to be a pretty good selection of middle/inside backers in this draft class with more upside than veterans Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett and Brandon Silver.


The Chargers long run of dominating the AFC West was built on some exceptional drafting in the early 2000s by first John Butler and then Smith. But the Chargers have been stuck with some ordinary drafts in recent years and there has not been the influx of talent that used to have a replacement ready for every position.

That makes this an important year for Smith and his personnel people. There are holes in the once mighty San Diego roster and it’s time to get them filled. Plus, some of those new players need to be impact players, i.e. starters and big-play producers.

2006 – Other than a pair of starters on the offensive line in LT Marcus McNeill (2nd) and RT Jeromey Clary (6th), this draft didn’t do much for the Chargers. No. 1 pick Antonio Cromartie was traded away.

2007 – First rounder WR Buster Davis did not produce. FS Eric Weddle (2nd) has been productive as a starter. The rest of the group was nothing to remember.

2008 – CB Antoine Cason (1st) and FB Jacob Hester (2nd) have been starters and productive for Coach Norv. But they haven’t seen much from the rest of the six-player group.

2009 – RG Louis Vasquez (2nd) was in the starting lineup for the Chargers this year. No. 1 OLB Larry English has not made much of an impression on the Chargers just yet.

2010 – Six selections in the draft and three were on the roster at the end of last season. RB Mathews got plenty of work in San Diego’s offense at the start of last season. The rest of the picks did not produce much.


The position of depth in the first round was the defensive line and especially the guys on the end. At this point in our mock, seven defensive linemen have been drafted. I think the Chargers will make it eight going with the best athlete available and filling a need. THE PICK – DE Robert Quinn of North Carolina.

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