The San Diego Chargers made headlines early on this off season when they traded CB Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets for a conditional 3rd-round pick in 2011. Since then, the team has remained active in both the trade and free agent markets.
In addition to Cromartie, backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has also been traded away. Whitehurst was sent to Seattle for a third round pick in 2011. The Seahawks and Chargers will also swap 2nd-round picks in this year's draft, moving San Diego up 20 spots in the 2nd-round. Whitehurst has not completed a regular season pass during his 4-year career with the Chargers, so this looks like an excellent trade from their standpoint.
Veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher has been brought in to add depth at corner back. He will most likely compete for a job at the nickel back position. Vasher is a former Pro Bowler and has experience in Ron Rivera's defensive system. Still, his lack of speed should confine him to a reserve role.
The team has not shown interest in any of the available free agent running backs. Without the addition of a veteran stop-gap, San Diego may be forced to select a running back in the early rounds of the draft.
Team needs and 2009 Draft results after the jump...
- Running Back: LaDainian Tomlinson proved ineffective in 2009, and has since signed with the New York Jets. Darren Sproles has not shown the ability to be a feature back in Norv Turner's offense. Given their lack of interest in the free agent options, expect the team to acquire a feature back via the draft.
- Nose Tackle: Jamal Williams has signed with the Denver Broncos. His presence was sorely missed when he sat out 2009 due to injury , and his departure leaves a gaping whole in the middle of San Diego's defense. The nose tackle is pivotal to a defenses' success in a 3-4 scheme, so look for the Chargers to target a blue chip prospect like Terrence Cody in the first round.
- Cornerback: The team was thin at cornerback with Antonio Cromartie on the roster, and now the situation is even more dire. Nathan Vasher is a nice player, but he is in decline. The Chargers will need to add more depth and talent at this position during the draft.
- Outside Linebacker: Shawne Merriman's future with the team is still up in the air. San Diego drafted Larry English in the 1st-round last year, but this is a position they could still use more depth at. Their pass rush has been inconsistent which makes this an area of concerning heading into the draft.
2009 Draft Results
- Round 1, Pick 16 - DE Larry English (Northern Illinois)
- Round 3, Pick 78 - OG Louis Vasquez (Texas Tech)
- Round 4, Pick 113 - DT Vaughn Martin (Western Ontario)
- Round 4, Pick 133 - OG Tyronne Green (Auburn)
- Round 4, Pick 134 - RB Gartrell Johnson (Colorado State)
- Round 5, Pick 148 - CB Brandon Hughes (Oregon State)
- Round 6, Pick 189 - S Kevin Ellison (Southern Cal)
- Round 7, Pick 224 - WR Demetrius Byrd (LSU)