Chargers new DT Ryon Bingham
With the first day picks graded in a previous installment, the focus is on the second day of the San Diego Chargers 2004 NFL Draft, with an overall grade added in summation. While it is early to be handing out such grades, it is an inevitable task that sheds light on the future of the franchise, from the armchair.
Shaun Phillips was the Chargers first selection on day two. When the team realigned their board after the first day, they were shocked Phillips was on the board. The Bolts saw themselves as a perfect fit with their new 3-4 defense and he is the type of selection the Pittsburgh Steelers have routinely turned into a superstar at the linebacker position. Think former defensive ends Joey Porter and Mike Vrabel, both third round picks of the Steelers or even fifth rounder Clark Haggans.
Dave Ball, taken in the fifth round, is a sack machine. He led the nation in that department as a senior with 16.5. His weakness is rumored to be run support, but with the Chargers selecting a dominant run stuffer in round two, Igor Olshansky, Ball can pin back his ears and race after the quarterback. He will likely struggle a bit early on in the 3-4 but should produce. To get him in round five is a potential steal.
The Chargers have been looking to upgrade the backup to LaDainian Tomlinson for two years. Jesse Chatman may be serviceable, but the team was not confident he could take some reps from Tomlinson to keep him fresh in games that are out of hand. Enter Michael Turner. Turner, a first team All Conference selection as a senior, ran for 1,648 yards as a senior after amassing 1,915 as a junior. In the NFL, two backs that can start a given game are a necessity, Turner is that other guy.
The Bolts do a lot of different things with the offense. One matchup they love to exploit is the tight end versus linebacker. Ryan Krause, listed as a wide receiver, could be that guy. He caught 67 passes as a senior for 1,066 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a reward, he was named the most valuable receiver in the North Central Conference. At his size, 240 pounds, Krause would fit the Josh Norman role quite nicely – and hopefully display better hands. The one knock, and this is nothing against Krause, is Kelly Butler, an offensive tackle, was on the board. Value to value, an offensive tackle would have been it.
The seventh round is the time to take a flyer on a guy who has not performed up to expectations or was used in a different capacity than he should have been. Ryon Bingham is that guy. Seen as a John Parrella type, Bingham was asked by his coaches to play the run, and not much else. A stay at home type nose tackle that can eat up defenders in the seventh is a steal. Admittedly, he has a long way to go before labeling him such.
The first offensive tackle on a team devoid of talent at the position came in the seventh round. Shane Olivea has worked hard this offseason to bring his weight down from the 330 range to 302. A three year starter at offensive tackle, Olivea projects favorably to guard. Playing for Ohio State, he has talent and showed great work ethic this offseason to drop close to 30 pounds.
The last man standing, or next to last in the draft, was Carlos Joseph, an offensive tackle out of Miami. Much like his talented brother, there are questions whether he has the desire to play in the NFL. Joseph, a starter for two years on the offensive line at Miami, has serious upside, but it is potential that has not been tapped. He regressed as a senior after a solid junior campaign. Thus the warning signs. The hope is Hudson Houck can reach him and mold him into a starter in the NFL. He is not a pick the Chargers have made recently, but a worthy selection this late.
Overall, the Chargers addressed dire needs on the defensive line. The team went into the draft believing the need at offensive tackle was lessened by the dominance Tomlinson has shown with a subpar line. They also knew the depth at tackle was at an all-time low in the draft and drafted players that specifically fit their new 3-4 defense.
A trade in the first round helped them snare Philip Rivers, their top target heading into the draft and they made out with a 1st round pick in 2005. Surprising was the team not taking a wide receiver on day one given the talent level at the position. With so many teams picking up wideouts, the team may be hoping they have the inside track on receivers in ’05.
In retrospect, the team filled glaring needs along the defensive line, at linebacker with a speed rusher, at kicker, quarterback and backup running back. With a defense that put its secondary out on an island, the draft has to be called a success. Tomlinson will still get his yards because he is that good.
Overall Grade: B+
Denis Savage can be reached at email@example.com