Chargers take a running back
With the first pick in the fifth round, 133rd overall the San Diego Chargers selected defensive end Dave Ball out of UCLA. He was one of their targets heading into the draft. Not since 1992 has the teal selected three defensive linemen, although one should move to linebacker.
With the pick acquired from the Miami Dolphins for Junior Seau, 154th overall in the fifth round, the Bolts selected running back Michael Turner out of Northern Illinois.
Dave Ball played for the Chargers coaching staff during the Senior Bowl. Desperate for sacks, the Chargers had been leaning towards the player that led the nation in that category with 16.5 in ’03 en route to earning Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year in '03 as early as round four. They just could not pass on Shaun Phillips when they reshuffled their board.
It wasn’t always so easy for Ball. He said it came together for him just before his junior season. Before then – he wasn’t really known as a candidate to be even selected. Yet his hard work paid off on the field and now he is seen as a mid round selection.
The biggest stigma he admittedly faces is being labeled as a one trick pony, which has forced other 3-4 teams to back off Ball. In his senior season, however, he made strides in run defense, prompting one scout to say he was “not awful defending the run.” At the end of the day he still had 43.5 tackles for a loss through his career, two short of a UCLA record.
“The Chargers are the only team (that talked) to me about playing in the 3-4,”Ball said.
His biggest asset is his speed and that has the Chargers intrigued. They are looking for any possible way to bring pressure quickly and Ball combines that speed with strong hands and a quick swim move.
Michael Turner, out of Northern Illinois, was a North Squad player at the Senior Bowl. He showed his versatility by lining up in various spots including fullback during that week and caught the ball well out of the backfield.
A first team All Conference selection as a senior after posting 310 carries for 1,648 with 14 touchdowns on the ground while catching 19/230/3. He was forced into the starting lineup as a junior and responded with a career high 338 carries for 1,915 yards and 19 touchdowns, adding 10/100/0 as a receiver. Also started eleven games as a true freshman finishing with 200/983/7 on the ground.
The former track star is appropriately nicknamed “the burner” and will step into a role as a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson. His selection could end Jesse Chatman’s time with San Diego.