Friday, May 7, 2010

Ryan Mathews is a Charger - And Why He'll Succeed

Those of you who know me, or who follow this page, probably know by now that I'm a big San Diego Chargers fan, and a big fan of Fresno State (being an alumnus and all!). So as the NFL draft approached, and rumors were circulating that the Chargers were interested in Mathews, my excitement grew. Rumors had the Texans taking Mathews at pick #20, while San Diego sat at #28. But there was still a chance that GM A.J. Smith would trade up.

Unfortunately I was driving the carpool home that afternoon, so I couldn't follow what was going on, but one of the guys in the carpool kept me up to date that San Diego had traded up to #12. I figured they were targeting DT Dan Williams. I'd read that if they traded up, that's who they were going for, and would probably pick up a RB in the 2nd round. But no, Mathews was the pick! From a fan's perspective, what better pick could there be?

And like any other fan, I need to be an armchair analyst and present why I think he'll succeed.

Philip Rivers
San Diego has one of the best Quarterbacks in the NFL. And it's not like he's throwing to chumps. With Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates as targets, I could succeed as an NFL QB (ok, maybe not, but you get my point)! When Rivers took over as the QB for the Chargers, teams stacked the box against LaDainian Tomlinson and challenged Rivers to beat them. He proved that he could, and developed into one of the best leaders in the game. Teams will have to respect the pass, and can't stack the box against Mathews, giving him more opportunities.

Darren Sproles
While a lot of people don't feel that Sproles has the build to be an every down back, he is definitely a great change of pace back and third down back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he hits maximum speed in no time. He's already proven that he can pick up the blitz, despite his small size. At least early on, this should help relieve some of the pressure from Mathews in big third down situations.

Norv Turner Wants to Keep Him Fresh
Norv Turner has stated that Mathews can expect to see 250 carries and 40 catches in his rookie season. This seems to be pretty reasonable. Pretty much right in line with some of the top backs in the league in their rookie season.

So Ryan Mathews is going into a good situation in San Diego. The Chargers did give up a lot to get him, but A.J. Smith felt that Mathews was far better than the next level of running backs, and this team did need a quality starter. Only time will tell whether or not he was the right choice, but I do know that this choice has left me super excited for next season!

And just for fun, check out some Ryan Mathews highlights:

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