Thursday, November 16|
Chargers' No. 1 need: Offense
By Mel Kiper Jr.
Special to ESPN.com
Assuming Ryan Leaf no longer has a future with the Chargers -- and it looks like he doesn't -- their No. 1 need is quarterback. At best, Moses Moreno is a career backup and Jim Harbaugh is about near the end of his career.
Three years ago when they needed a quarterback, the Chargers picked Leaf with the second overall choice. From what I understand, the Chargers had Leaf rated ahead of Peyton Manning and would have chosen Leaf if they'd had the No. 1 choice. At the time, it was a split decision between Leaf and Manning, much like the debate over Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer in 1993.
By early January, Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick will know if the Chargers have the first overall pick. Then he will consider whether he'd like to go No. 1 to the Chargers or wait until next year, improve his dropback passing skills and go to the fledgling Houston Texans with the No. 1 pick. He'll have to debate that option.
Other than Vick, no available quarterbacks would qualify as No. 1 picks. I have Purdue's Drew Brees rated among the top 10 prospects, but he's not close to being the No. 1 pick overall. He's a borderline top-10 choice, depending on how many juniors decide to enter the NFL draft.
The strength of the 2001 NFL draft will be defensive line, but the Chargers' defense is already strong. The Chargers have to take either a quarterback, receiver or running back. So if Vick stays in college, I would project them taking Mississippi running back Deuce McAllister.
McAllister is my No. 1 senior prospect, and the Chargers' running game is still a question mark because Jermaine Fazande is an unknown quantity. McAllister brings a different style to the backfield. Despite his injuries this season, he's a big, tall runner with strength, competitiveness and desire. Plus, he's a great pass receiver. His hands and pass-receiving skills are as good as anybody's. He would give the Chargers some multi-dimensional skills that would make him very valuable.
There's some good junior talent that could appear in the draft. If Michigan receiver David Terrell leaves college, he would be near the top of the list. If the Chargers wanted to move out of the No. 1 pick and bulk up on quantity, they could still fill some offensive needs by drafting Terrell and perhaps even Brees. They could even luck out and get McAllister a bit lower than No. 1 overall.
The Chargers need offensive players. If Vick isn't available, the Chargers must go with the best offensive player. It would be tough to pass up McAllister.
|Michael Vick may have to decide if he wants to play for the Chargers, who could own the No. 1 pick.|