AFC West: Kassim Osgood

AFC West notes

March, 20, 2012
ESPN’s Josina Anderson is reporting Denver has re-signed special teams ace Wesley Woodyard to a two-year contract. He will also be a backup linebacker.

Former Oakland pass-rusher Kamerion Wimbley is reportedly close to signing a five-year deal with Tennessee. Oakland cut him in a salary-cap dump Friday.

If the Panthers end up trading running backs DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart because of the Mike Tolbert addition, I could see Denver potentially showing interest. Denver is in the market for a running back and Denver head coach John Fox used to be in Carolina.

UT San Diego reports there will not be a reunion with LaDainian Tomlinson and Kassim Osgood in San Diego. The Tomlinson decision is not surprising at all, but I thought the Chargers would consider Osgood.

Chargers keep Nick Hardwick

March, 13, 2012
The San Diego Chargers have figured out one of their issues on the offensive line. The team announced center Nick Hardwick has signed a three-year deal.

It is not a surprise that Hardwick is coming back. He is the anchor to the offensive line, and he wanted to return. Yet, there were some question marks, because he nearly got to the start of free agency, which opens at 4 p.m. ET.

The team will now try to sign receiver Vincent Jackson, tackle Jared Gaither, running back Mike Tolbert, defensive tackle Antonio Garay and some outside free agents. The team had about $20 million in cap room before the Hardwick deal. Terms of his deal are not currently known. Signing Hardwick is a good start to free agency in San Diego.

Meanwhile, former Chargers special-teams ace Kassim Osgood is being released in Jacksonville. The Chargers love him, and their special teams suffered when he was gone. I could see the team making a run at him.

UPDATE: The Chargers announced they have cut cornerback Dante Hughes, linebacker Everette Brown, linebacker Nate Triplett and receiver Bryan Walters. No surprises there.
The four AFC West teams were among the 23 NFL clubs that will divvy up the 32 compensatory picks that were released by the league Friday evening.

San Diego received two comp picks. Denver, Kansas City and Oakland each received one comp pick. San Diego received sixth-and-seventh-round comp picks. The Chargers will get No. 201 and No. 233. Kansas City gets a sixth-round comp pick. It is No. 199. Oakland will get No. 240 in the seventh round and Denver gets No. 246.

Per the rules, a team losing more or better comp picks than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive comp picks. San Diego lost free-agents Brandon Manumaleuna and Kassim Osgood. Kansas City lost Wade Smith.

Oakland was given a comp pick even though it did not have a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents the Raiders lost were ranked higher than the free agents they signed. According to the league it’s based on a specified point differential that is based upon salary and performance.

Denver was one of 11 teams to be given a comp pick at the end of the seventh and final round to bring the total number of comp picks to 32, equaling the number of NFL teams.

The comp rules are complicated, but the bottom line, each team in the division now has extra firepower. Comp picks cannot be traded.

AFC West mailbag

February, 6, 2011
Weekend Mail call:

Michael from Iowa wants to know if I think the Chargers’ special teams would take a big hit if running back Darren Sproles were to leave in free agency.

Bill Williamson: Sure, it would. You are right, Michael, after losing special-teams ace Kassim Osgood to free agency last year, it wouldn’t be great for the Chargers to lose their top-notch returner. San Diego’s special teams were awful last year, and losing Sproles wouldn’t help. But because Sproles also plays running back and he might cost more than the Chargers are willing to pay, he might be difficult to keep. If Sproles leaves, I could see the Chargers drafting a young returner.

Christopher from Eugene, Ore. wants to know if I think the Raiders could snag Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea with a bargain pick because he was hurt at the Senior Bowl.

BW: Paea hurt his knee at the Senior Bowl. His ability to participate in the combine later this month could be affected. But unless there is a serious setback, I don’t think his draft status will be severely affected. He was expected to go in 20-30 range. The injury could cause him to fall a few spots, but I don’t think it will make him fall all the way to No. 48 where the Raiders pick.

Breezy from Hampton, Va., wants to know if the Raiders could use the franchise tag on guard Robert Gallery to keep him from joining former Oakland head coach Tom Cable in Seattle.

BW: I don’t think Oakland would put the franchise tag on Gallery. I think it would put it on defensive tackle Richard Semyour again if a long-term deal can't be agreed upon. Oakland can’t put the franchise tag on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Gallery is one of Oakland’s better free agents, but it will also have to try to sign cornerback Stanford Routt, safety Michael Huff and running back Michael Bush. I don’t think any of those players, including Gallery, are candidates to get the franchise tag. Placing the franchise tag on those players would likely be more expensive (in the short term) than giving those players a long-term deal.

AFC West mailbag

October, 2, 2010
Weekend mail call:

Ron from Ft. Washington, Md., wants to know what I think of the progression of second-season receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Bill Williamson: I think they are doing fine. I really like Murphy, who was a fourth-round pick last season. He still has to work on some things, but I think he’s pretty polished. I think you’ll see him play in the league for 10 years or so. He had 34 catches last season and he has 15 catches in three games this season. Heyward-Bey, the No.7 overall pick in 2009, had his best game of his career in Week 2 when he caught six passes for 80 yards. He had three catches in Week 3. The key for Heyward-Bey is to continue to grow and to continue to improve.

Mike from San Diego wants to know if I think Marcus McNeill will soon sign a long-term contract with the Chargers.

BW: I think the two sides will talk. San Diego may make him wait a little big. But the Chargers have wanted to sign him and now has he ended his holdout, perhaps the two sides will eventually come to an accord.

William from Newport Beach, Calif. wants to know if the loss of special teams ace Kassim Osgood is a major reason why the San Diego special teams have struggled.

BW: It’s pretty apparent that the Osgood is badly missed in San Diego. He was a star special team player in San Diego, but he went to Jacksonville as a free agent because he wanted to play receiver as well and that wasn’t a possibility in San Diego. With Osgood gone, San Diego has allowed three return touchdowns in its two losses. You have to say Osgood’s loss has to be a big reason why this unit is no longer elite.

San Diego Chargers aren't dead yet

October, 1, 2010
TurnerJason O. Watson/US PresswireNorv Turner is the only NFL coach who downgrades NFL betting lines.
The pundits are having a ball this week.

This is the year that the San Diego Chargers will finally fall back to earth. This is the September malaise that will doom the franchise.

That is the conclusion after watching myriad shows early in the week. Yes, it seems the perception is that the Chargers are no longer a playoff team. The reason, of course, is that San Diego has started the season 1-2 after losing at Seattle in Week 3.

The Chargers have made a habit of starting slow. They are 6-8 in September in four seasons under coach Norv Turner. San Diego, though, has always bounced back under Turner, winning the AFC West in each of his first three seasons in San Diego.

After listening to the talking heads, however, this year is different. This is the end of the Chargers as we know them.

Allow me to chime in: The San Diego Chargers aren’t dead yet.

I just don’t see the Chargers’ current state being the result of a team in major decline. It is the result of a team needing to address miscues and start playing better fundamentally. But there are not major issues on this team.

Look, the Chargers have lost both of their games on the road and by one touchdown in each contest. In both games, San Diego was driving to tie the score on its final possession.

San Diego is ranked No. 1 in the NFL in offense and is ranked No. 4 in the league in defense after three weeks.

Sound like a team in the midst of a downward spiral to you?

The only reason the Chargers have two losses is because they have been careless. The killer has been on special teams. San Diego has allowed three return touchdowns in the two losses. The special teams have not adjusted to the loss of special-teams ace Kassim Osgood. (Check out Jeffri Chadiha's piece on Osgood and other special-teams aces.)

Expect to see some starters inserted on the special-teams coverage units Sunday at home against Arizona in an attempt to clean up the issues. I’m not sure San Diego’s special teams will click at the same level they did when Osgood was roaming the field, but it will stop costing the Chargers games.

Also, San Diego has nine turnovers and has committed too many stupid penalties. These are things that can be worked out. It is not as if the Chargers are dealing with lesser talent. They are just playing sloppy football.

And Turner isn't pushing the panic button.

“The hardest thing is when you put the tape on and you see a lot of guys doing what they’re being asked to do and playing at a real high level,” Turner told reporters in San Diego earlier this week. “Obviously it makes a big impact when you see the plays that keep you from getting done what you want to get done. We know what they are and we know we have to eliminate them.”

San Diego knows its history. It knows this is really no different from recent slow starts.

In 2007, San Diego started 1-1 and then was 5-5 before winning its final six games of the season. In 2008, San Diego was 4-8 and then won the final four games to win the division as Denver collapsed. Last season, San Diego was 2-3 and then rolled off 11 straight wins to finish the season.

This is nothing new.

Arguably, the Chargers are performing better on offense and defense than they did last season.

The offense, which is getting better production from the running game than last year, is rolling (except for the turnovers). The Chargers have the No. 12 rushing offense in the NFL despite the fact that rookie starter Ryan Mathews has missed the past six quarters with an ankle injury. Last season, San Diego was ranked No. 31 in the league on the ground.

The passing game has been beyond good. You can’t pin the 1-2 record on the absences of receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill. Quarterback Philip Rivers is leading the NFL with 1,087 passing yards. He set a franchise record by throwing for 455 yards against Seattle. How can anyone say the Jackson absence is killing this team?

McNeill ended his holdout after two games and he will eligible to play in Week 6 at St. Louis. And his replacement, Brandyn Dombrowski, has played well. Offensive line protection isn’t the problem, either.

Defensively, San Diego is swarming. The defense has allowed 34 non-garbage-time points. It has forced seven turnovers. Teams are not teeing off on this unit.

In many ways, San Diego is playing better now that it has in the previous three years in the early part of the schedule. In a lot of ways, the Chargers are playing like the Turner teams that rolled at the end of the season.

Don’t fool yourself. The Chargers aren’t dead yet.

Evening AFC West news and notes

September, 29, 2010
Former San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson has taken over as the No. 1 running back with the Jets. Tomlinson is running well and looks a lot better than he did in his final two seasons in San Diego.

Yet, the Chargers are happy that they moved on. San Diego has the No. 12 rushing game in the NFL so far. It was No. 31 in the league last season.

The man who replaced Tomlinson as the starter in San Diego, rookie Ryan Mathews practiced fully with an ankle injury that kept him out for the past six quarters.

San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman didn’t practice because a calf injury that kept him out of nearly the entire loss in Seattle on Sunday. The Chargers are battered at linebacker.
  • Denver running back Knowshon Moreno missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury that kept him out of a Week 3 loss to the Colts. Cornerback Andre' Goodman (thigh) and right tackle Ryan Harris (ankle) were both limited in practice. Goodman missed last week’s game and Harris has missed all three games.
  • Former San Diego special teams ace Kassim Osgood was attacked in a Jacksonville home Monday night. He suffered minor injuries. Osgood left San Diego to sign with Jacksonville this offseason.

How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch

September, 29, 2010
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


1. San Diego Chargers special teams: The Chargers could easily be 3-0, but their special-teams coverage units are killing them. San Diego has given up three return touchdowns in three games -- two touchdown returns for scores in a seven-point loss to Seattle in Week 3 and a punt-return score for a touchdown in a seven-point loss to the Chiefs in Week 1. The Chargers dearly miss special teams ace Kassim Osgood, who is now in Jacksonville.

2. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders kicker: This offseason, Janikowski signed a contract that made him the richest kicker in NFL history. He had only three misses last season before Oakland gave him gold. This season, Oakland has to be wondering what is going on. Janikowski has missed five of 13 field goal attempts. Most important, he missed a 32-yard chip shot at the end of Sunday’s 24-23 loss at Arizona. Janikowski has been streaky in his career. He is definitely trending the wrong way.

3. Denver Broncos’ red zone offense: The Broncos took themselves out of contention in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to Indianapolis with porous play in the red zone. Denver had a first-and-goal situation at the Colts’ 1 and couldn’t punch the ball in. In the fourth quarter, Denver failed on fourth down and three from the Colts’ 12. This team needs to find some weapons in the red zone or it will not make strides.


[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesMatt Cassel has quarterbacked the Chiefs to a 3-0 start.
1. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback: Many Chiefs’ fans were calling for Cassel’s head despite a 2-0 start. Cassel was struggling and many in Kansas City wanted the Chiefs to trade for Kevin Kolb. Perhaps a strong effort by Cassel in a rout of San Francisco in Week 3 will quiet the critics. Cassel threw the ball very well and ended up with thee touchdown passes. The Chiefs are hot and now, so is their quarterback.

2. Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker: The knock against the Chiefs in the past two seasons since Jared Allen was traded was that they had no pass rush. And there was evidence of that. In 2008, Kansas City set an NFL record for the fewest sacks in a season with 10. However, the Chiefs are playing inspired defense. Hali is leading the way. He had three sacks against the 49ers. Hali has long hurried the quarterback well. Now, he’s getting to the quarterback and bringing him down.

3. Marcus McNeill, San Diego Chargers left tackle: McNeill ended his holdout and reported to the team Saturday. He will start playing in Week 6 at St. Louis. McNeill made a poor decision by staying away and it cost him nearly $3 million. But now that he is back where he belongs, don’t be surprised if the Chargers ultimately give McNeill the long-term deal he desires.

Wrap-up: Seahawks 27, Chargers 20

September, 26, 2010
What it means: The Chargers’ September woes continue. San Diego is now 6-8 in September under coach Norv Turner. After playing very well against Jacksonville, San Diego was sloppy at Seattle and the Chargers are now 1-2 and wondering why their early-season woes continue.

Injuries of note: Linebacker Shawne Merriman left with a calf injury and guard Louis Vasquez was carted off with a knee injury. If these two players miss an extend period of time, it could hurt San Diego.

Trending: San Diego is playing very poorly on special teams and is handing the ball over on offense. Seattle's Leon Washington had two returns for touchdowns, which was the difference in the game. San Diego has allowed three returns touchdowns in three games. The Chargers miss Kassim Osgood, now in Jacksonville, badly. After being sloppy with the ball early in last week’s game, San Diego committed five turnovers Sunday. If these two trends continue, the Chargers will have difficulty winning on a regular basis.

What’s next: San Diego plays a very winnable game Sunday when Arizona visits. The Chargers then go to Oakland in Week 5. San Diego has to get well in these two games or it could be in some trouble.

Halftime notes from Jaguars-Chargers

September, 19, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- Some thoughts at halftime where San Diego leads Jacksonville, 21-6. There have been seven turnovers, four by Jacksonville and three by the Chargers. Sloppy times by the beach.

The Chargers are dominating this game, but they have made enough mistakes to keep it close. However, a San Diego touchdown drive later in the second quarter was a huge blow to Jacksonville.

San Diego’s defense is energized. San Diego has intercepted Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard three times. The Chargers also have one fumble recovery. Right cornerback Antoine Cason, in his second game as a starter, has two interceptions and has forced a fumble.

San Diego tight end Antonio Gates had two touchdown catches in the second quarter. Gates has 62 career touchdown catches and is tied at second with Shannon Sharpe for touchdowns by a tight end.

Former San Diego special teams ace Kassim Osgood added to San Diego’s special teams woes in the early season by blocking a punt by his good friend, Mike Scifres.

AFC West mailbag

September, 18, 2010
Weekend mail call:

Derek from Oceanside, Calif., wants to know what I thought of the Chargers’ special teams in their loss at Kansas City on Monday.

Bill Williamson: It was shaky. It was clear San Diego missed Kassim Osgood, who signed with Jacksonville in the offseason. Osgood will try to work his special teams magic against the Chargers on Sunday. Osgood departed because he wanted a chance to play receiver, but there was no room for him in San Diego. You’d have to think Osgood could have done something to prevent Dexter McCluster’s 94-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Pat from Lancaster, Pa., wants to know if I think Bruce Gradkowski could replace Jason Campbell as Oakland’s quarterback soon.

BW: It’s way too soon. Campbell needs to have a chance to perform and he needs better protection. Sure, Gradkowski has had success in a limited experience with a weak line in Oakland, but Campbell deserves a chance. The team believes Campbell is a more talented player than Gradkowski.

Dan from Topeka wants to know what I think about the Chiefs’ goal-line offense.

BW: We saw that it was effective in the season opener. I really like tight end Tony Moeaki. Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel hit the third-round pick for a short touchdown on Monday night. It’s clear that Cassel trusts the kid. Defenses get confused when facing a package where linebacker Mike Vrabel, Moeaki and big back Thomas Jones line up behind Cassel. I think it's a formidable alignment for the Chiefs and it's just another reason to be excited about this team.

Chargers lose venerable long-snapper

September, 15, 2010
Usually, the loss of a long-snapper isn’t overly concerning for a team. However, David Binn is not a usual long-snapper.

Putting an explanation point on a stinging loss Monday night in Kansas City, Binn suffered a torn hamstring on Dexter McCluster’s 94-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Chiefs’ 21-14 win. Binn, who has been with the team since 1994, finished the game.

Replacing Binn may be difficult and it certainly will be awkward. The team signed former Jet long-snapper James Dearth. San Diego punter Mike Scifres and kicker Nate Kaeding will have to adjust to working without Binn for the first time.

Binn, who set a franchise record by playing in his 179th consecutive game on Monday, has played in 256 NFL games. It is a franchise record as his 17 seasons with the team. Dearth spent nine seasons with the Jets before being released in a cost-cutting move.

San Diego’s special teams had a tough night Monday night (and it was noticed by former star Kassim Osgood who will visit San Diego with Jacksonville on Sunday) and it will be interesting to see if Binn’s absence causes an issues.

Meanwhile, San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman was limited in practice with Achilles issues that has been bothering him for a month. It kept him out of the Kansas City game. Linebacker Stephen Cooper did not practice with a knee injury.

Best Chargers Team Ever: 2006

June, 25, 2010
Notable players: QB Philip Rivers, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, K Nate Kaeding, LB Shawne Merriman, DT Jamal Williams, C Nick Hardwick, FB Lorenzo Neal, ST Kassim Osgood, TE Antonio Gates, LT Marcus McNeill, CB Quentin Jammer.

[+] EnlargeLaDainian Tomlinson
AP Photo/Denis PoroyLeague MVP LaDainian Tomlinson led a Chargers team that was a favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Analysis: Unlike the other three teams in the AFC West, the memory of San Diego’s greatest team doesn’t bring back happy thoughts for Chargers fans.

The memories are tough and raw. Oh, what could have been.

San Diego has never won a Super Bowl. This team was its best chance. The 2006 San Diego Chargers were loaded.

Then they went out and blew it in the playoffs.

I was in San Diego for the team’s AFC divisional playoff game against New England and the town was buzzing all weekend. The Chargers were an NFL-best 14-2 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. San Diego was unbeaten at home in the regular season. Marty Schottenheimer’s team was expected to go to, and probably win, the Super Bowl.

Then came the fourth quarter of the New England game. The Patriots stunned San Diego by scoring 11 points in a little more than seven minutes to knock off the Chargers, 24-21.

The dream season was over and the Chargers were never the same again. Schottenheimer, who didn’t get along with general manager A.J. Smith anyway, was sent packing and was replaced by Norv Turner.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the NFL MVP after an incredible season in which he ran for 1,815 yards and scored an NFL-record 28 rushing touchdowns. Philip Rivers took over for the departed Drew Brees after sitting for two years and played well right away. The defense was suffocating and opportunistic.

The 2006 Chargers were good enough to win a Super Bowl. They just couldn’t get it done.

Most impressive win: A 23-13 victory over visiting Pittsburgh. The Chargers bounced back from a tough loss in Baltimore to handle the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 5. They made a statement in that game.

Rocky times: The Chargers had some off-field issues in 2006. Linebacker Steve Foley was shot after a confrontation with an off-duty police officer days before the start of the season, creating a major distraction. Shaun Phillips stepped in and played very well in Foley’s absence.

Safety Terrence Kiel was arrested at the team’s facility during the season for possession of controlled substances. Kiel, who didn’t play for San Diego after 2006, was killed in an auto accident in July 2008.

Honorable mention:

1963: The Chargers won the AFL title after an 11-3 season. They were dominant, fielding the best offense and defense in the league.

1980: They lost to the AFC championship game to Oakland. This was an offensive juggernaut (418 points, 26.1 ppg).

1994: This team has a special place in San Diego fans’ hearts. It’s the only time the Chargers made the Super Bowl.
Former Kansas City star defensive end Jared Allen is mourning the passing of his former Chiefs’ position coach Bob Karmelowicz. Karmelowicz is credited for turning Allen from a long snapper into a devastating pass rusher.

Here’s an interesting look at how the Raiders can affect whether Bay Area rival San Francisco will get a new suburban stadium and whether the two teams could end up sharing the stadium.

Denver coach Josh McDaniels is not planning to ban his players from playing basketball in the offseason. Star left tackle Ryan Clady partially torn his patella tendon while playing basketball. The team is hopeful Clady can return by the start of the season.

Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland’s top pick in 2009, is still having issues catching the ball consistently, which is a big disappointment for the Raiders.

Kansas City rookie tight end Tony Moeaki looks like he could be a factor in the passing game very quickly.

The San Diego Union Tribune takes a good look at new Chargers primary running back Ryan Mathews.

It seems like Jacksonville is already figuring out what the Chargers long knew: Kassim Osgood is a great special teams player -- and that’s about it.
Vincent JacksonAP Photo/Michael ThomasReceiver Vincent Jackson is one of five players key to San Diego's future success.
There is no question San Diego has lost more personnel than it has gained as it attempts to rebound from a shocking playoff loss and stay among the elite teams in the AFC. Many Chargers fans worry the team has taken a step backward and could lose its grip as the four-time defending AFC West champion.

Among the departed: Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (cut and signed with the Jets), cornerback Antonio Cromartie (traded to the Jets), special-teams ace Kassim Osgood (free agent/Jacksonville), defensive tackle Jamal Williams (cut, signed with Denver) and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (free agent/Chicago).

I don’t think the losses are as devastating as they appear on paper and San Diego will not take a dramatic step backward. With the right moves in the rest of the offseason, I think the Chargers will reaffirm themselves as the top team in the AFC West. Here’s why:

All of the players who left are replaceable: None of the players who left were top-level performers on last year’s 13-3 team.

  • Tomlinson is a legend and will be missed, but his performance last year was not memorable. He had a career-low 730 yards, he didn’t have a 100-yard rushing game and the Chargers were ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing. An upgrade was needed.
  • Cromartie was a Pro Bowl player earlier in his career because he was an interception magnet. However, his interceptions have declined dramatically, he had issues in coverage and he was a major liability in the run game.
  • Third-year pro Antoine Cason will not be a big downgrade from Cromartie in coverage and he should help in ways Cromartie didn’t. Cason, the Chargers’ top pick in 2008, is a smart player who is trusted by his teammates. He is a ball hawk and doesn’t shy from run support. He has some work to do, but he won’t be a liability.
  • Williams missed all but one game last season with a triceps injury. The Chargers were moving on anyway.
  • Osgood will be missed on special teams, but his departure isn’t a devastating blow. He was a very good role player, but became too expensive for the Chargers to keep. It's time for another player to step up and become a difference-maker on special teams. The Chargers will survive this loss.
  • Manumaleuna is a fine blocking tight end, but he is not a player San Diego will be lost without. He was a role player.
The team is keeping its best players: Many San Diego fans complained the Chargers haven’t been active in free agency. That is not accurate. The team has been very aggressive -- in keeping its own players. No team had as many key decisions to make in restricted free agency.

In the end, San Diego put the high tender of first- and third-round picks on receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill and running back/return man Darren Sproles.

Unlike the group of players who left, these five players are essential to the team’s future success. San Diego made the right decision to make it virtually impossible for another team to sign any of these players.

The team is prepared to improve in the draft: The Chargers will be adding new talent this year.

San Diego’s top two pressing needs are nose tackle and running back. San Diego is in position to find quality new starters in the draft at both positions.

In one of the shrewdest offseason moves, San Diego acquired the No. 40 pick in the draft when it traded No. 3 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to Seattle. San Diego gave up the No. 60 pick. It also got Seattle’s third-round pick next year.

San Diego now has the No. 28 and No. 40 picks in this month’s draft, giving it great drafting power. Both the nose tackle and running back classes are deep, so San Diego should get two good players. The additional picks also give the Chargers greater flexibility. They could decide to package the picks and move up in the first round to get a top nose tackle or running back.

No matter what happens, the Chargers will get better through the draft. By the time the 2010 season starts, San Diego will be just as good as it was at the end of 2009.