Commentary

QB Rivers the biggest question for San Diego

Scouts Inc. puts the Chargers on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answers.

Originally Published: March 20, 2008
By Jeremy Green | Scouts Inc.

As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

Free-Agent Tracker
Chargers
For a complete list of all of the Chargers' free agents and all their offseason signings, check out Scouts Inc.'s free-agent tracker.
Who they signed
Who they lost
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The San Diego Chargers entered this offseason in a similar position to the one they were in last offseason. They are one of the top three teams in the AFC, along with New England and Indianapolis -- and you could make a case the Chargers are the second-best team in the AFC because they have owned the Colts. The Chargers have one of the best general managers in the NFL in A.J. Smith. Head coach Norv Turner, in his first year at the helm in San Diego, and defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell did things a little differently than the team was used to, and early struggles led to an 11-5 finish last season. But with a year under their belts and virtually the same personnel, there is no reason to think Turner and the Chargers should be anything less than a 13-3 team that challenges for the top seed in the AFC.

Key Additions

Smith has kept many of the team's talented young players in the fold and off the free-agent market. QB Philip Rivers exercised his contract option to stay with the Chargers, and the team re-signed backup QB Billy Volek and backup G Scott Mruczkowski. The only other significant move was adding former San Francisco ILB Derek Smith, who is familiar with the 3-4 system. The Chargers had concerns at linebacker heading into last season with new starters Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm, but Cooper played well and Wilhelm produced better than expected. Smith will compete with Wilhelm, but more than likely he will be on the roster for added depth. It has been a quiet offseason in San Diego in terms of signings.

Mock Draft: Chargers
The Pick (No. 27 overall):
RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
Insider

Stewart
Todd McShay:San Diego clearly needs a right tackle, but value clearly trumps need in this case. Stewart's toe surgery has caused his stock to drop but he has great speed and size. He would be an excellent replacement for free agent departure Michael Turner and he wouldn't have to carry a punishing load as the backup to LaDainian Tomlinson.
Complete mock draft Insider
Vote: Team needs

Key Losses

San Diego lost two of its three players who were eligible for free agency, and the players who departed were two very important backup pieces. RB Michael Turner went to Atlanta and No. 3 CB Drayton Florence left for Jacksonville. The Chargers could not justify paying Turner a starter's salary even though he has been one of the best backups in the league. Turner will get the chance to come into his own now that he is out of the shadow of LaDainian Tomlinson. Florence was up-and-down last season, but as San Diego found during its close AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots, you need three corners to compete at the highest level. Teams in the NFL threw the ball nearly 65 percent of the time last season, so defenses need players who can match up one-on-one in man coverage, and Florence fits that bill. San Diego also waived longtime FB Lorenzo Neal -- one of the best to ever play the position -- OT Shane Olivea and S Marlon McCree.

Remaining Questions

On paper, San Diego is as good as any team in the NFL. The Chargers face questions at the third cornerback spot and at running back; they would like to add another backup to compete with Darren Sproles behind Tomlinson. The team gave up its second-round pick in the '08 draft to get WR Chris Chambers from Miami at the trade deadline, and he must develop into a playmaker after taking the offseason to re-acquaint himself with Turner's system. The biggest question, however, is at quarterback. Scouts Inc. ranks Rivers as the No. 13 quarterback in the NFL, while rivals New England (Tom Brady) and Indianapolis (Peyton Manning) have the league's top-two players at the position. Rivers must close that gap; there are plenty of elite pieces on both sides of the ball in San Diego. If Rivers steps up, this could be the Chargers' year.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.