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  #1  
Old 06-15-2005, 03:52 AM
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Default Scout.COM: If I were a carpenter... 2005-06-15

http://chargers.scout.com/2/387597.html





Quote:
If I were a carpenter...

By Michael Lombardo
Scout.COM / SDBoltReport
Date: Jun 15, 2005



If the Chargers want to continue their remarkable success from last season, they will need to get some big production from some small-school players. The trick for the team is going to be deciding just how much responsibility to place on the shoulders of players who only a few years ago played at proverbial bo-dunk universities.

Cornerback Drayton Florence is expected to be a full-time starter this season, but just two short years ago he was fine tuning his game at Tuskegee University. A fine university, no doubt, but unlikely to earn the moniker cornerback-U anytime in the near future. If Quentin Jammer continues to struggle in his attempts to earn shutdown-status, the team must decide if Florence is ready to man-up on the opponents best receiver.

Other former small-schoolers may be receiving increased responsibility as well. hails from little-known Arkansas- Pine Bluff, and he may have a shot to win the starting right tackle job this season.

His promotion would be a gamble, given the steady albeit unspectacular play of Shane Olivea last season. However, Van Buren’s rare combination of size and agility provides him with ample and nearly unlimited upside. The team will have to make a choice here too; they must decide between a good player in Olivea and an unproven but potentially great player in Van Buren.

If Jesse Chatman is cut, which is possible given the Chargers selection of a running back in each of the last two drafts, Michael Turner may see his workload increase significantly. Turner is a power-back from Northern Illinois, and he has the speed and vision to merit additional carries this season. At five-foot-ten and 237 lbs., he has the size to handle a heavy workload that Darren Sproles simply does not possess. That means if LaDainian Tomlinson gets dinged again, defenses may get a heavy dose of number 33.

Then there’s Vincent Jackson, the team’s second-round selection, who will be used as a goal-line receiver and possibly more. Jackson is coming fresh out of Northern Colorado, so he will have to adjust to a whole new brand of competition and a vastly increased game speed. However, he has incredible size at six-foot-four and 241 lbs., and his speed, hands and body control are excellent also. The temptation to place him and Antonio Gates in the lineup at the same time may be so great that it could force the Chargers to rush him onto the field as soon as possible.

“It was great fit for me,” Jackson said of attending Northern Colorado. “It worked out. I was probably 6-3, 190 pounds when I came out of high school. I wasn’t as developed as I am now. I was more of a raw athlete; a basketball guy. When I got to college I found the weight room and got some coaching.”

There are others being counted on to carry their success from small schools to the big time. Ryan Krause was drafted from Nebraska- Omaha, and the team knew he would be a project when they selected him. Not only was he changing competition levels, but positions as well. He was moving from wide receiver to tight end, and everyone knew the transition would take time. Well apparently by week 17 of last year he was ready, as he scorched the Kansas City defense for 81 yards and a touchdown on only five catches. If he is even half as game ready as those numbers suggest, then he too will push for increased playing time.

Lastly, there’s Mike Scifres. The Chargers drafted their punter out of Western Illinois, and he excelled last season after manning the bench most of his rookie year. As long as he doesn’t regress, the team should be fine at that position for years to come. His net average of 38.4 yards per punt was best in the AFC, as was the total of 29 kicks downed inside the twenty.

Unfortunately, Scifres is the exception. Most of the Chargers small-school players still have a lot to prove. There is no doubt the team would be happy to just maintain the status quo after last season’s stellar record, but the fact is that may no longer be possible. These players may have to transition from projects to producers in a hurry.

It has long been A.J. Smith’s philosophy that the team will draft players from any school, saying that the team will find good football players no matter where they play. Well the truth is it does matter where they play. The smaller the school, the greater the learning curve. Smith drafted each of the aforementioned players, and now Coach Schottenheimer must give them a chance to play. No one yet knows if A.J. Smith’s small-school studs theory is pure genius or a pure waste of draft picks, but this season the team will find out.

The Chargers are just too deep now. They can’t continue to save roster spots for player grooming and pet projects. The lifeline of any good team is the draft, and these players are about to get pumped into the system. The team must rely on these players this year, and it appears they are indeed set to do so. Last year, Smith was named NFL executive of the year by Pro Football Weekly, the Pro Football Writers Association and FoxSports.com. But it will be this year’s team, one littered with his small-school selections, that will truly show the world the full extent of Smith’s football acumen. Here’s hoping he turns out to be as smart as the rest of the media have already proclaimed him to be.


Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@SanDiegoSports.net
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2005, 08:41 AM
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Lombardo is a Raider fan.

I really don’t know where to start? He keeps saying players need to be developed and insinuates the "projects" need to perform in order for the team to have a decent year. He mentions Scifres as "an exception," but fails to mention Gates remarkable conversion from a basketball player to a premier TE. I could go on, and on... but I think everyone already knows Lombardo is talking out of his arse.

Does he know the Chargers (12-4) won the AFC West last year? Hell, if there’s more developing to do… GO CHARGERS and GO AJ!
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Old 06-15-2005, 09:53 AM
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I didn't care for the analysis, and I thought it was stupid of him to say that
Quote:
every team must build through the draft.
Really now? Isn't that what it's for? To add depth and solid, young players that you see potential as a role player or starter in the future?
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:16 AM
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Does he even realise we didn't need any playermakers from big schools this year? We got what we needed in the draft, and that's all that needs to be said.
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:16 AM
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I did think this statement was pretty good. "The Chargers are just too deep now." When was the last time you heard that. Certainly not the last couple of years when they were counting on Undrafted Free Agents coming in and being key contributors.
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:21 AM
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Keep in mind the Scouts dot com site is pushing a subscription service. So I notice they try to stir the pot a little to get fans to give up their credit card number. But they are not credentialed so most of their quotes are taken from U-T, NC Times, Chargers.com and or other article writings on the Bolts. So I can only take his analysis with a grain of salt. To tell you the truth I find more incite on this forum.
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:29 AM
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We drafted guys this year from Maryland, Oklahoma, K-State, and Alabama. We really only drafted two guys from smaller schools (and one was in the 7th round). I think this article is actually a compliment to AJ and the staff. I'm not sure they've drafted any more kids from smaller schools than anyone else, but the guys they did get are contributing. Probably just seems like they are drafting more small school guys than other teams because most of the ones we've snagged have turned out pretty well. Granted, as the article points out, the book is still out on guys like Courtney VB. But he certanily hasn't been overwhelmed either. Not every single draft pick is going to work out for everyone, but AJ has done a pretty good job of getting value out of each pick. If anything, his biggest struggle has been getting max value out of the 1st rounders due to contract squables.
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dswanson
I did think this statement was pretty good. "The Chargers are just too deep now." When was the last time you heard that. Certainly not the last couple of years when they were counting on Undrafted Free Agents coming in and being key contributors.
If a team is too deep, doesn't that me that the small school guys who make it are good enough and have more time to develop because the guys in front of them are so good?

The article also forgets the 40 or so guys on the roster that played in big time conferences.

Guys from smaller schools can make it like McCardell - UNLV, Foley - NE Lousiana, Cesaire - S. Connecticut St. and Gates - Detroit Central High School.

I agree with the theory that you can get a better read on a guy that played against the top level competition but it doesn't mean that guys at small schools can't contribute. Just ask Jerry Rice-
Mississippi Valley State.
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelbolt
To tell you the truth I find more incite on this forum.
Thanks Joel. As a fan and a member here, I share your opinion. This Forum is the best place to go for information and discussion. The rest are also rans.
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Old 06-15-2005, 11:57 AM
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Personally, I think Lombardo is an idiot. I've read a couple of things from him and I'm not sure what his point is, but it's obvious why he writes a column and doesn't coach. First of all, why would even think about cutting Jesse Chatman? That makes no sense what so ever. The guys only the best backup in the league!!! Second, why does VJ need to step up this year? I guess he doesn't think McCardell, Parker, Osgood or Reche are worth anything??? I don't get it. VJ will be lucky to see the field this year. Like he said, we are just too deep this year. Third, when you have talent at almost every position, its ok to bring a guy along slowly. If he doesn't need to see the field right away, you can afford to have him sit and learn. There's nothing wrong with taking a chance on a guy that has great potential if there's two or three in front of him to handle the job until he's ready.
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