The Official BLOG of

You are currently NOT on the Homepage
Please send any questions or comments to:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ahh yeaah! Say hello to the fututre...

Source: SD Tribune

The Chargers got the running back they wanted, and Ryan Mathews got the team he wanted.

“It’s really unbelievable,” Mathews, seemingly still in shock, said shortly after the Chargers made him the 12th pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft. “It’s a dream come true.”

Mathews followed the Chargers and wore No. 21 at West High School in Bakersfield and Fresno State in honor of LaDainian Tomlinson, the man he will replace in the Chargers backfield.

“He’s my favorite running back,” Mathews said. “It’s hard. You can’t fill shoes like that. … There is a lot of pressure, especially after LT … I have to go in with my own mindset and play ball. I think I play good under pressure.”

To get Mathews, the Chargers paid a steep price to move up 16 spots in the first round.

They sent their first-round pick (No. 28), second-round pick (40), fourth-round pick (126) and linebacker Tim Dobbins to the Miami Dolphins and in addition to the 12th pick acquired the Dolphins’ fourth-round pick (110) and a sixth-round choice (173).

“We can say anything we want,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said. “When you see this guy play, you’re going to understand why we made the deal we did.”

Mathews, who is 5-foot-111/2 and 218 pounds, led the nation as a junior last season with an average of 157.5 yards per game and averaged 6.55 yards per carry. He was slowed by various injuries, missing eight games over three seasons. A concussion sidelined him for one game last year.

He declared early for the draft and was immediately identified as the second-best back available. But the Chargers had him and Clemson’s C.J. Spiller rated well above the rest of the running back class.

In seeking to move up, the Chargers began with the Dolphins, who wanted a second-round pick after trading theirs to Denver as part of the Brandon Marshall deal. Over the course of the past few days, the sides hammered out the rest of the deal. It was the 40th pick, which the Chargers acquired as part of a deal with Seattle last month for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, that was key.

As it turned out, the Chargers likely had to make the move in order to get Mathews.

Spiller was selected ninth, by the Buffalo Bills. That meant he would not be available to the Seahawks, who had reportedly coveted him, at No. 14.

“We could either wait for the player, or a player we really wanted we could go get,” said Jimmy Raye, the Chargers’ director of player personnel. “And instead of waiting to see if he was going to go to someone else before we picked, we decided to put a package together and see if Miami would take it. They did, and we went up and got the player instead of sitting there thinking, ‘Gosh, is a player going to fall all the way to us?’ and then not get the player that we coveted.”

The Houston Texans, who picked 20th, had long been reported to be interested in Mathews as well.

“There was some talk about Houston, and it started to scare me,” Mathews said. “I’m lucky and blessed (the Chargers) traded up, and I’m super excited.”

The Chargers had identified running back as their No. 1 priority, but it was thought they could wait until the second round or later, or that they might make a trade for a veteran as they attempt to move on from the mostly spectacular nine-year LT era.

Instead, they went and got a player Raye and Turner last night made the bold step of comparing in various ways to Tomlinson.

“They have some similarities,” Raye said.

Turner was here as offensive coordinator in 2001 when the Chargers traded down four spots in the first round and drafted Tomlinson with the fifth overall pick.

“I know how excited I was that day,” Turner said. “And I’m very excited to get Ryan … I think he’s extremely special. I think he’s a complete back — physical, fast, he’s got great feet, great vision. He is complete in terms of catching the football.

“And I’m thrilled to get him here, I know our offensive line is going to be thrilled to get him here. I think Ryan is going to be excited when he gets around our guys. He knows we’re a good football team, he knows we’re a very good offensive football team, and I think when he sees our offensive line, he’ll know that we’re outstanding in the offensive line and that he’s going to have the opportunity to do some special things here.”

While he has moved up to take players he targeted in later rounds — Eric Weddle in the second round in 2007 and Jacob Hester in the third round in 2008 — it was the first time in his eight drafts as general manager that A.J. Smith moved up in the first round.

Late Thursday, Smith talked about what prompted the move.

“I think the player is special,” Smith said. “I think he’s a championship-level back. He can run, he can catch, he can block. He’s physical. He’s got home run speed. … We’re not just going to twiddle our thumbs and hope that a player of Ryan Mathews’ stature falls to the Chargers.”