Live from Indy: Thursday's Bolts Bits

OT Rodger Saffold (Scott Boehm/Getty)

The San Diego Chargers dove right into the NFL Combine Thursday by meeting with Indiana OT Rodger Saffold. See what one Chargers coach said to get Saffold "hyped," and learn which other gifted offensive tackle met with San Diego scouts.'s Amberly Dressler and Charlie Bernstein contributed to this report.

Indiana OT Rodger Saffold (6-foot-5, 312 pounds), a projected third-round pick, confirmed on Thursday he's already met with the Chargers at the NFL Combine.

"I talked to a bunch of different teams," he said. "I talked to the Jaguars, the Bills, the Colts and a bunch of other guys. I also talked to the Dolphins, the Falcons, the Raiders and the Chargers."

Saffold said his meeting with San Diego stood out. Not only did he learn what the Chargers are looking for in an offensive lineman, he also learned about one of his school's most successful alumni.

"[What stood out] is that Kris Dielman plays over there," Saffold said. "Talking to the offensive line coach of the Chargers, he let me know that we have people who have gone before us that paved the way and that we need to continue on that. We don't need to slip off. We need to continue to work hard.

"Just hearing about Kris Dielman's story really helped me to get hyped."

OT Rodger Saffold
Chris Gardner/Getty
Dielman fought his way up the ladder in San Diego. After joining the team as an undrafted defensive tackle, he moved to offense and quickly ascended from the practice squad to the Pro Bowl.

Saffold aims to follow Dielman's example of hard work. That process started just over a month ago at the East-West Shrine Game.

"You always have to fight for what you want in life," he said. "In the East-West game, I got to face competition that I never would have gotten to face in the Big 10. I was able to do that and I played well."

There are still concerns about Saffold. One is a back injury that plagued him in 2008, limiting him to the point where he could barely bend over to tie his own shoes. But to his credit, he played through the pain and came back better than ever in 2009, when he allowed just one sack.

Some NFL teams are worried about his ability to hold up on an island at offensive tackle; a few have even projected him as a guard. However, he has more than three years of experience as a starting left tackle and has accounted himself well. His work so far this offseason -- where he's shown good feet and agility -- has only aided his draft stock.

Saffold continues to work on his game. Despite registering 41 consecutive starts at Indiana, he knows he has yet to see it all.

"I haven't seen a lot of 3-4 defenses, but I've seen a whole lot of other different things," he said. "I'll be preparing myself for those types of defenses once I play in the NFL."

Should he land in San Diego, he could see 3-4 defenses every day in practice.

Blue, Gold and Brown?

The Chargers also met Thursday with USC OT Charles Brown. The highly rated tackle is a first-round candidate for the Bolts; draft analyst Chris Steuber projected the Chargers to draft Brown in his latest mock draft.

Brown is a polished player who could push for playing time immediately. He doesn't have the bulk the Chargers prefer from their offensive tackles (6-foot-5, 292 pounds), but he is surprisingly physical and strong at the point of attack.

He also has the athleticism to play left tackle, which could come in handy in case the Chargers cannot agree on a contract extension with Marcus McNeill. McNeill, a likely restricted free agent, will certainly be back in 2010, although his long-term future has yet to be settled.

For more on Brown, check out his Combine Q&A with Ed Thompson (read it here.).

Get more Chargers news from the NFL Combine in our Insider Draft Talk Forum.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter. Recommended Stories

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