AFC West: San Diego Chargers

In need of an every-down running back, should they let Ryan Mathews go in free agency, the San Diego Chargers picked a good year to find one in this year’s draft.

“You can get those guys pretty much at any point in the draft that you want because there’s such great depth this year at the running back position,” ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said, “Every year you can find them. You can get a guy like Javorius 'Buck' Allen from USC in the third or fourth round. I think even a T.J. Yeldon from Alabama drops down into the fifth or sixth round. Terrell Watson of Azusa Pacific will be a nice, late-round pick, as will Cameron Artis-Payne from Auburn. Mike Davis of South Carolina might be a late-round pick. So you can find running backs.”

Among those players suggested by Kiper, the Chargers need to find a workhorse thumper who can grind out yards between the tackles. Here are a handful of options the Chargers could be targeting in this year’s draft.

Click here for an updated list of all the measurables for the running back draft prospects.

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Gordon is deservedly considered the top running back prospect in this year’s draft. He put up video-game numbers in his final season at Wisconsin, rushing for an NCAA-record 408 yards against Nebraska, finishing with 4,915 rushing yards and averaging 7.8 yards per carry during his career with the Badgers. Gordon backed up those numbers with a solid workout at the scouting combine. You’d like to see a little more top-end speed, but a 4.52-second time in the 40-yard dash is fast enough. The only question about Gordon is his pass-catching and pass-protection ability on third down. Gordon is a true home run threat who could serve as an every-down back for the Chargers.

Jay Ajayi, Boise State: The Texas native finished with 3,796 rushing yards and 55 total touchdowns during his career for the Broncos, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. A tough, between-the-tackles runner, Ajayi compares himself to Marshawn Lynch because of his willingness to fight for every yard. At 6-foot and 221 pounds, Ajayi ran a 4.57-second time in the 40-yard dash and posted a 39-inch vertical jump. He’s also a good receiver, finishing with 50 receptions for 535 yards in his final season at Boise State.

Tevin Coleman, Indiana: At 5-11 and 206 pounds, Coleman rushed for a school-record 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Half of Coleman’s 28 career touchdowns gained 40-plus yards. Coleman also showed toughness, playing half of the season with a broken toe. He did not participate in on-field workouts at the scouting combine because of the injury, but pushed up 225 pounds 25 times on the bench press. Coleman is a one-cut, downhill runner with outstanding burst once he gets to the second level of the defense.

Duke Johnson, Miami: At 5-9 and 207 pounds, Johnson is electric when he gets into the open field. He finished with 1,652 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in his final season at Miami, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Johnson also caught 38 passes for 421 yards and three receiving touchdowns in 2014. Johnson’s 4.54 in the 40 was a bit disappointing, considering how fast he plays on film. But his production, vision and ability to make defenders miss clearly translates to the next level.

Buck Allen, USC: At 6-foot and 221 pounds, Allen is physical enough to serve as a workhorse running back in the NFL. And he’s fast enough, running a 4.53 in the 40 at the combine -- good speed for his size. Allen finished with 1,489 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in his final season with the Trojans. He also totaled 41 receptions for 458 yards and a receiving touchdown, so he can contribute in the passing game. Allen has good feet and short-area quickness for a bigger back.

David Johnson, Northern Iowa: At 6-1 and 224 pounds, Johnson is an easy strider with good, long speed once he reaches the open field. Johnson ran the 40 in 4.50 seconds at the scouting combine, so the speed is there. He finished with 1,553 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in his final season at Northern Iowa, so the production is there. Johnson also totaled 38 receptions for 536 yards and two receiving touchdowns, so he has some ability as a third-down back as well. Johnson could be a mid-to-late-round sleeper for the Chargers if they are looking for running back depth later in the draft.
Darren Smith of The Mighty 1090 talked with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers about his mentorship of draft prospect quarterback Marcus Mariota, the re-signing of left tackle King Dunlap and the team's efforts to get a stadium deal done here in San Diego.

You can listen to the full interview here.

[+] EnlargePhillip Rivers
AP Photo/Ed ZurgaQB Philip Rivers says he's not too worried about a proposed new stadium for the Chargers quite yet.
Smith asked Rivers about his thoughts about potentially playing in Los Angeles, with the Chargers proposing to build a stadium in collaboration with the Oakland Raiders in Carson, California.

"I think it's just so far," Rivers said. "And I say this with all respect, because I know there's a lot of people putting in a lot of hard work to try and make it happen, but I think it's just a lot of noise at this point.

"Nothing has been decided. There's no clear-cut anything. So I think to get too caught up into it and too riled up would just not be smart. I am paying attention. You knew it was going to come at some point. It's been talked about for the whole time I've been here. And it looks like it is, whether it comes to the end of this year or not -- and whether we get a solution here in San Diego or we move up the road.

"I think it's closer now than it's ever been, and I know I'm stating what's been said a million times. I'm not so wrapped up into it that I'm worried about it."

Rivers was asked how much of an impact the future location of his team would have on negotiating a contract extension with the Chargers. Rivers heads into the final year of a deal that will pay him $15.75 million in base salary in 2015, counting more than $17 million against the salary cap. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said earlier this year he wants Rivers to be a Charger for life. The two sides have yet to have discussions about restructuring Rivers' contract.

"Is the location of this team going to be a deciding factor? I can't honestly tell you that it will be," Rivers said. "Is it a factor at all? Sure, but I can't tell you that it's at the top of the list, because it's just really not. That goes without saying I hope we're staying. But should we move, it doesn't move to the top of my list for deterrents for not being a Charger."

Rivers also talked about his work with Mariota, who trained with quarterback guru Kevin O'Connell at Prolific Athletes in nearby Carlsbad, California.

"I can't take credit for anything he's done, or how well he's going to do," Rivers said. "But I did go up there a few days and watch him throw, and watch him do some things. I sat in the meeting room a couple days, and it was fun.

"I enjoy it. With this young wave of quarterbacks and you're kind of one of the older guys, I feel like it's something good for us, to give back a little bit and be around a young guy like that. I was impressed. He's an impressive guy."

O'Connell was recently hired as the new Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach.

Rivers also commented on the Chargers re-signing Dunlap to a four-year, $28 million deal before the left tackle hit free agency in March.

"I thought that was huge," Rivers said. "For what it's worth, in my mind the first thing that had to be done this offseason was signing King Dunlap. So I was super pumped. It can sound somewhat selfish, but it's also serving our team. Certainly, from my standpoint it's nice to know your left tackle's back, but it obviously helps our team. That was the first thing in my mind was get King back."
It’s hard to evaluate offensive line prospects without pads on. You want to see how guys finish blocks and move in their pads next to their peers. But the scouting combine provides the next-best thing – a series of measured workouts and agility drills that NFL scouts can use in an apples-to-apples comparison of the offensive line draft prospects.

Here are some players whom the San Diego Chargers could have their eyes on, and how they performed on Friday. Of note, Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris was on the field helping to run the workouts for the offensive line prospects.

Click here for an updated list of all the measurables for the offensive line draft prospects.

La'el Collins, LSU: Collins had one of the best performances in the offensive line drills among the top prospects at the combine. At 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, Collins ran a 5.12-second 40-yard dash and showed good athleticism. Paired with his impressive performance on tape playing in the SEC, Collins is a likely first-round selection. He has versatility, with the ability to play guard or tackle. The Chargers reportedly met with Collins at the combine.

Jake Fisher, Oregon: Fisher showed more athleticism than draft analysts expected, running a 5.01-second 40-yard dash. At 6-6 and 306 pounds, he played right tackle most of his career for the Ducks, but moved to left tackle last season and performed well. Fisher also looked good in the offensive line drills and would be a fit in a zone-blocking scheme, which the Chargers run at times.

Ereck Flowers, Miami: Flowers is a big dude, measuring in at 6-6 and 229 pounds. Even with long arms (34.5 inches), Flowers showed good strength, bench-pressing 225 pounds 37 times, the most for an offensive lineman. At that size, he still moved well in the agility drills and posted a 5.31-second 40-yard dash. Flowers said he will not hire an agent and will likely hire an attorney to look over his contract.

D.J. Humphries, Florida: He reportedly played at 285 pounds in his final season in college, but measured in at 6-5 and 307 pounds at the combine. At that weight, Humphries showed good athleticism for an offensive lineman, running a 5.12-second 40-yard time and posting a 4.64-second short shuttle. His measurables compared to Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Andrus Peat, Stanford: At 6-7 and 313 pounds, Peat has a heavy lower body. But he moved well for his size, running a 5.18-second 40-yard dash and posted an 8-foot, 9-inch broad jump. Peat is 21 years old, so there’s room for him to grow. But one concern was how much effort it took for him to keep up with other offensive line prospects in the agility drills. He appeared to tire toward the end of the workout.

Brandon Scherff, Iowa: An athletic freak, Scherff played quarterback as a sophomore in high school and threw for 1,200 yards. He threw a fastball 85 mph in high school and also played tennis. At 6-5 and 319 pounds, Scherff ran a 5.05-second 40-yard dash. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network compared Scherff to Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin. Scherff likely will be selected in the top half of the first round and probably will not be around when the Chargers select at No. 17. Scherff is a better athlete than other offensive linemen to come out of Iowa, like Bulaga and Riley Reiff. Scherff suffered a hamstring injury and could not complete the offensive line drills, so his pro day will be even more important.
Mark Fabiani, point person for the San Diego Chargers' stadium issue, said the organization had its eye on land in Carson, California, for a new stadium proposal for some time, but things heated up in January after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an NFL stadium in nearby Inglewood.

"It really ramped up in early January when Stan Kroenke made his move," Fabiani said Thursday. "Obviously, this is a site that's been well-known to the NFL. This was the site in the late 1990s that was the Los Angeles choice for the supposed expansion team that ended up going to Houston. And then subsequent to that, the league has tried to buy the site three separate times. So it's a well-known site.

"The league has always liked it because it's approximate to the Westside of L.A. and it's approximate to Orange County. So it's kind of in the sweet spot of where you want to be in Los Angeles in terms of ticket buyers."

So why did the Chargers announce the proposal for a new stadium in Los Angeles now?

[+] EnlargeQualcomm Stadium
AP Photo/Gregory BullThe Chargers ramped up their Los Angeles plans when Rams owner Stan Kroenkie announced plans to build a stadium in Inglewood.
"We really thought that we would have another year of relatively quiet work in San Diego," Fabiani said. "We announced in December that we would not be relocating, and we did not think any other team would be making the move before we were. Obviously, we were proved wrong with Kroenke's actions in January. And so things really ramped up with us and the land in January, and really within the last couple weeks with the Raiders."

Fabiani said although the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are rivals on the field, the owners and the front offices of the two organizations have had a good relationship off of it. Chargers owner Alex Spanos was brought into the NFL by legendary Raiders owner Al Davis.

Davis served as offensive assistant for the Chargers from 1960 to 1962.

"These are the two California teams that have problems," Fabiani said. "They're the two California teams that have worked hard on solutions, certainly compared to what's happened in St. Louis. You have these two teams in California that have been working on this for years."

What do you say to fans of the Chargers in San Diego?

"It's really no different than what we've been trying to say for the last month and a half, and that is we are out of time," Fabiani said. "Stan Kroenke has forced our hand. We have to protect the future of our business. We have to preserve the quarter of our local revenues that come from L.A. and Orange County. And although we're still trying to get a result that is a positive result in San Diego, we have to for the future of our franchise protect our options. And we've been saying that for weeks."

So ideally the Chargers want to remain in San Diego?

"Absolutely," Fabiani said. "That's always been Dean Spanos' goal, is to keep the team in San Diego. And if we can find an acceptable solution here -- one that is acceptable to the mayor, the Chargers and the NFL -- and, most importantly, one that is acceptable to voters, that's always been our goal. And it remains our goal.

"Now again, we also have been very candid with people. It's been 13 years. This is Year 14. What's going to be different in Year 14 than the prior 13? The barriers are still there, so we have to be candid about that. But at the same time, we're going to keep trying."

What makes the stadium site in Carson more preferable than the one in Inglewood?

"We believe it's the best site, and the NFL has always loved the site," Fabiani said. "First of all, there's a lot of space on the land, so you can do whatever you want to create a great fan experience on game day. It's not going to be part of another development. It's not going to be something that has joint uses. It's going to be solely devoted to the fan experience on game day.

"It's easily accessible from L.A. and Orange County. It's easily accessible from the freeway systems. There will be ample parking. And inevitably in Los Angeles, if the stadium gets built there's going to be two teams in the stadium. That was always I think a given. If ever there was a stadium built, there were going to be two teams in it. That's just the reality of the world. And two teams make it much easier to finance. That's not brain surgery."
San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco spoke with reporters at the scouting combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

Among the nuggets gleaned from Telesco’s conversation, the most interesting tidbit is that for now, the team will keep D.J. Fluker at right tackle. There had been some rumblings that Fluker would move inside to guard, but for the most part, Telesco said the organization is pleased with how the former University of Alabama lineman has performed in his first two seasons.

Fluker
“That’s the plan right now,” Telesco said. “We think he has the ability to probably play a couple different spots, but right now that’s the plan, to leave him out there. He was a little uneven at times I think earlier in the year, not so much physical-wise, but more technique. But he had some games late in the year that he showed exactly what he could do, which is he can pass-protect on the right side.

“We know he’s a great run-blocker. He can move people. He has great effort getting out to the second level. His enthusiasm in the run game, you can see that on tape and you can see that live. But in pass protection he can do it out there, there’s no doubt.

Asked if the team’s plans for Fluker could change in the coming months, Telesco had this to say:

“Things could change through March, April, May, June and July,” Telesco said. “But it’s not something we’re actively looking at right now -- where we’re going to put D.J. Right now D.J. is our right tackle, and we’re pretty happy with him there.”

Here are some other tidbits:

" Telesco reiterated that the team is pleased with the way Philip Rivers is playing at 33 years old, and that he could play at a high level well into his 30s. However, Telesco said the team is always looking for contingency plans when it comes to the quarterback position.

" Telesco said he will meet with pending free agent running back Ryan Mathews’ representatives in Indianapolis as part of preliminary conversations toward a possible deal that could keep the former Fresno State standout in San Diego. “Ryan is a talented football player, and as anyone can probably see, we’re a different team when he’s on the field – with his speed, his physicality and his talent level,” Telesco said. “But we’re still discussing some things. We’ll meet with his agent again here at the combine and see where that leads us.”

" With Frank Reich being courted by the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets for those teams' head coaching positions, Telesco said he’s happy that his offensive coordinator remains in San Diego. “We’re really lucky to have him back, and not have to go to another offensive coordinator three years in a row,” Telesco said. “Frank’s an excellent football coach and I’m glad we still have him.”

" Telesco sidestepped a question on the stadium issue, saying he’s focused on improving the team on the field. “Our job is to put the best team on the football field that we can, and stay focused with that,” Telesco said. “I kind of let the politicians and lawyers work on everything else, and I will work on the football team. I haven’t seen it as a distraction at all as of right now. We’re really focused on doing our job.”
SAN DIEGO -- With representatives of the San Diego Chargers expected to meet with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's stadium advisory group on Monday, San Diego County Supervisors Chairman Bill Horn added an interesting twist.

In an interview with KPBS radio in San Diego, Horn said the county could play a role in helping to fund a new NFL stadium in San Diego.

“I believe if the county could get involved, we might be able to put in some revenue bonds, something like that,” Horn told KPBS. “But I would have to say to my taxpayers, 'you're not going to have to pay for this.' These are gonna have to be from bonds that will pay for themselves."

The stadium advisory group is tasked with figuring out the best location for a new NFL stadium between the current Qualcomm Stadium site and property next to the San Diego Padres' Petco Park slated for a convention center expansion.

The group also is looking for a finance plan to fund the project, which is where Horn's idea for the county to get involved could play a role.

In anticipation of Monday's meeting, the Chargers provided various documents gleaned from the team's 13-year effort to get a new stadium built.
SAN DIEGO – Jordan Beane of Chargers.com talked with new San Diego Chargers linebackers coach Mike Nolan for a few minutes in this video.

Nolan provided a pretty simple reason for taking the coaching position on Mike McCoy’s staff when asked why he chose San Diego – he was looking for a new job after Mike Smith and most of his coaching staff were dismissed by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Nolan was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos when McCoy worked as the offensive coordinator there in 2009.

“Mike McCoy and I worked together up in Denver,” Nolan said. “He called and asked if I’d be interested, and naturally, I was. I think you have a very good team here. I was out of work, so yeah, I was very interested.”

Nolan said he’s excited to work with defensive coordinator John Pagano, noting that guys play hard for him. And he also offered an interesting perspective on how he wants defensive players to perform on the field – with an offensive mindset.

“I know it’s a defensive position, but in order to be good, you have to be an offensive player,” Nolan said. “It’s a violent game; we all know that. And typically the players that are offensive in the way they play, and not safe, are the best players.

“It’s not that there’s not a place for a safe player, because a lot of guys that maybe look like me are safe because you just want to keep your job. But if you’re a good player and you have a lot of ability, you want to be an aggressive, offensive player. You want to take the fight to the other team. So it’s not always defense.

“Defensive gives the guy a mindset a little bit more of read and react, so to speak. When you’re offensive, I think all players enjoy playing with that type of mindset. So if we get it right, that’s what we want to do, and that’s what we want it to look like.”
SAN DIEGO -- As expected, longtime San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick will announce his retirement during a ceremony at Chargers Park on Tuesday, according to a report by U-T San Diego.

Robinson
Hardwick
The Chargers have not confirmed this report.

Hardwick played in one game in 2014, suffering a neck injury that forced him to the season-ending injured reserve. Hardwick was one of five players to start at center for the Chargers last season.

The Purdue product played his entire pro career with the Chargers, making the Pro Bowl in 2006 and was selected four times as an alternate for the annual all-star game.

Hardwick, 33, has started at center for the Chargers since his rookie season in 2004. He started 136 games for the Chargers, playing in all 16 games five times in his 11-year NFL career.
SAN DIEGO – The New England Patriots sealed a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX after a curious call by Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell resulted in an interception by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler.

My thoughts a day after the NFL title game are this: How far are the San Diego Chargers from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy? Well, here’s what the Chargers need to have a chance to make it happen next season.

Peterson
Peterson
A workhorse running back: Whether the Chargers are active in free agency or a trade pursuing someone like Adrian Peterson or they select one of the talented runners in this year’s draft, San Diego needs an every-down back to carry the load, taking pressure off Philip Rivers to carry the team with the passing game.

A big-play receiver: Neither team in this year’s Super Bowl had a true No. 1 receiver, so you can win the big game without Calvin Johnson on your roster. However, the Chargers could use another guy on the outside who can create explosive plays, particularly after the catch.

A tone-setting offensive lineman: The Chargers could choose to move D.J. Fluker inside to guard or leave him at right tackle and focus on beefing up the interior offensive line. Either way, San Diego needs to bring in someone with some feistiness who plays with a chip on his shoulder. The Chargers lost some swagger up front when Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary did not play in 2014.

An elite edge rusher: The last time someone in a San Diego uniform finished with double-digit sacks was Antwan Barnes (11) in 2011. The Chargers need a rusher opposing offenses have to fear coming off the edge in passing situations to help defensive coordinator John Pagano scheme on third down.

Flowers
A big corner: When healthy, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett played well in 2014. However, the Chargers still need an athletic, 6-foot corner who can match up with bigger receivers and be a willing tackler in the run game. Flowers and Verrett won’t make it through the 2015 season if they are continually asked to fill the lanes in run support.

A hard-hitting safety: Everyone is looking for the next Kam Chancellor. University of Washington defensive back Shaq Thompson could be the guy. He would pair nicely with Eric Weddle and give Pagano the flexibility he likes because of Thompson's ability to play all over the field. Jahleel Addae likely will take on more of a role on defense as well with Marcus Gilchrist headed for free agency. But the Chargers need more physical, athletic bodies who can run on defense.

A kickoff specialist: Nick Novak is one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, but he’s the worst in the league in touchbacks. San Diego could do a better job limiting plays in the return game.

A return specialist: Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has to make it a point of emphasis to find a return specialist in the draft or free agency who can give them some juice in the return game.
SAN DIEGO – Stating it has not been done in more of a decade of discussions on the stadium issue, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer said one of the primary reasons for creating an advisory group to study a new home for the San Diego Chargers is putting together a specific financing proposal that can be presented to voters.

“There’s never been a plan,” Faulconer told Dan Sileo of The Mighty 1090 AM radio. “There’s never been a plan that says, ‘This is how you finance it, and this is where it goes – these are all the hurdles that you have to do.’ There’s been a lot of back-of-the-napkin stuff. We’ve seen a rendering from time to time, which is all well and good.

[+] EnlargeQualcomm Stadium
AP Photo/Gregory BullThe Chargers have played in the facility now known as Qualcomm Stadium since 1967.
“But what I’m interested in – and I’m a dollars-and-cents guy, and that’s why I got elected – is we need to make sure that it’s a plan that works, and that there’s some real numbers attached to it. Without that specificity, we’re never going to get this done. I think we have an opportunity here during the spring, summer and early fall to get a plan that works and to build consensus on that plan because there hasn’t been that consensus before.”

You can listen to the full interview here.

Faulconer reiterated the two locations he asked the group to consider. One is a downtown location next to the San Diego Padres' Petco Park that could be a standalone facility or a joint convention center/stadium facility. Faulconer also wants the possibility of building a new stadium at the Qualcomm site examined.

Faulconer said the most important thing from a financing standpoint is what gives the city the best plan that the public is going to support and the best opportunity for success in getting a deal done. Faulconer is expected to announce members of the advisory group this week.

“I’m putting together a fresh group, a new group,” he said. “A group that I think is really going to help us get the dollars and cents. I’m not looking to litigate what’s been going on for the last 13 years. I’m interested here in the next spring, summer and fall of how we get to ‘yes.’”

Faulconer pointed to the effort to get a new stadium built for the Padres as an example of what the city can do for the Chargers if everyone works together. And he believes the current timeline for the task force finishing up work by early fall will give the Chargers enough time to make a decision on whether the team will stay in San Diego or relocate.

“I know it’s not going to be easy,” Faulconer said. “But it’s worth doing. It’s important to this city and to the San Diego region that we keep the Chargers in San Diego. And I can’t put it any more simpler than that.”
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers refuted a report from a St. Louis radio station that the team has a deal in place for a new stadium in Los Angeles.

Andy Strickland of CBS Sports radio 920 AM in St. Louis reported Friday that according to high-ranking officials in St. Louis, Chargers owner Dean Spanos has a deal in place with Goldman Sachs to build a stadium in Los Angeles, and the NFL asked him to hold off from announcing or releasing those plans.

You can listen to that report here.

Earlier this month, a developer and a company operated by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke unveiled plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, California, on land he owns near Hollywood Park.

“He’s very, very unhappy that all of sudden Kroenke goes ahead and does his thing without the NFL’s approval,” Strickland said, referring to Spanos.

Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ special counsel and the point person on the stadium issue, refuted the report.

“Although we have worked for years with Goldman Sachs as our investment banker, the remainder of the story is untrue,” Fabiani said.

Goldman Sachs helped set up a financing plan for the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. However, the investment banking firm was not responsible for raising revenue to help pay for the project.

The Chargers also had to dispel similar speculation in 2010 after a report from a Canadian sports talk radio show host claiming that the Spanos family had sold 35 percent of the Chargers to Los Angeles entrepreneur Phil Anschutz, who heads up AEG’s efforts to build an NFL stadium in Los Angeles.

Fabiani reiterated the team’s commitment to working toward a solution on a stadium deal in San Diego before testing the waters elsewhere.

“If we didn’t want to be here, why would we have worked on this for 13 years?” Fabiani said. “There’s been plenty of opportunities to move to Los Angeles. People forget Ed Roski has had a stadium entitled in the City of Industry since 2008. And by entitled, I mean done, ready and everything settled – every environmental review cleared and every lawsuit settled.

“AEG has had an entitled site for a couple years downtown, ready to go and everything settled. So if Dean had wanted to move, he would have moved a long time ago.”
Like you, I’m watching coverage of the Senior Bowl on the NFL Network from home this week.

While it would be nice to be on hand in Mobile, Alabama, getting an up-close look at individual drill work in person, a lot can be gleaned from the daily television coverage of practice.

Here are a few thoughts and observations on players who could make some sense for the San Diego Chargers in this year’s NFL draft. I watched the North team practice.

Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke: At 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds, I thought Tomlinson showed good power and did a nice job staying low and not getting off balance during one-on-one pass-protection drills. An All-ACC performer, Tomlinson is a four-year starter who earned his degree in December in psychology and evolutionary anthropology and would like to explore a career in the medical field once his playing days are over. Tomlinson is smart player who would be a good fit for Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris.

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: At 6-5 and 307 pounds, Clemmings passes the eye test. He moves well and appears to have the athletic ability to deal with elite edge rushers. However, he’s raw in terms of technique. Clemmings will have a steep learning curve at the next level.

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: Smith showed good body control and the ability to make contested catches during one-on-one drills. He’s a speed demon, and you can’t ignore his production for the Buckeyes -- he finished with 30 touchdown catches and averaged 20.7 yards per reception in four seasons at Ohio State.

Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford: At 6-6 and 287 pounds, I like Anderson’s versatility, playing up and down the defensive line for the Cardinal. He also showed good energy and a relentless nature in pass-rush drills.

Hau'oli Kikaha, DE, Washington: At 6-2, 246 pounds, Kikaha is a natural pass rusher who finished with 19 sacks for the Huskies in his final season. He appeared to struggle in pass coverage but could be a fit for a team like San Diego looking for more speed off the edge in passing situations. Kikaha played in 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes at Washington.
SAN DIEGO -- Mark Fabiani says it’s the most asked question he receives from fans of the San Diego Chargers looking for a new stadium built for the team in this city.

Why can’t the Chargers put together a financing plan similar to that of the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium recently completed by the San Francisco 49ers? Both teams are located in California, and the 49ers successfully found a way to skirt around the cumbersome legal hurdles to raising tax money to help subsidize an NFL stadium.

The 49ers used personal seat licenses, or PSLs, as a major funding source for the stadium project. A tool used to help fund NFL stadiums, PSLs are one-time fees for the right to buy season tickets in a specific seat for the length of a team’s stadium lease. PSLs can be transferred or sold to family members or other parties.

Fabiani, special council to Chargers president Dean Spanos and the team’s point person on the stadium issue, wishes the answer was as easy as duplicating San Francisco’s financing plan for Levi’s Stadium. However, he said the Chargers do not have enough local corporate support for that type of financing plan to pencil out in San Diego, according to studies performed by consultants for the Chargers.

Fabiani also noted the San Diego Padres tried to sell PSLs when they opened Petco Park and did not do very well.

“Everyone in San Diego for as long as the Chargers have been here have been used to simply paying for a ticket,” he said. “And to then ask that same person to pay a fee up front in order to have a right to buy a ticket, our consultants who have studied this say there’s very little chance with that approach in San Diego.”

Fabiani pointed to PSL sales for stadiums in Minnesota and Atlanta as being dramatically lower than what the 49ers achieved in Santa Clara. And Fabiani said San Diego’s projected PSL sales would be lower than Minnesota and Atlanta, because those two stadium projects are located in the biggest cities in their respective states.

“San Diego is obviously not either the biggest or the most important city in California,” Fabiani said. “The number of corporate headquarters that exist in San Diego is relatively small. Our support is based on individual fans as opposed to major corporations that are willing to pay a lot of money up front for PSLs or for suites.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, PSLs are estimated to bring in $312 million for Levi’s Stadium, much less than the projected $500 million.

According to Sports Business Daily, the New York Jets and New York Giants are projected to generate a combined $725 million in PSLs to help pay for the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium, while the Dallas Cowboys are projected to generate $650 million to help cover total costs of the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium.

By comparison, teams in smaller markets like Minnesota and Atlanta are targeting PSL sales closer to $100 million or less to cover costs for new stadiums in those cities.

“It’s just a different market,” Fabiani said about San Diego. “I’m not complaining about our market. It’s a great market and we’re happy to be here. We’re not raising this issue affirmatively. But when people ask the question, that is the answer.”
SAN DIEGO -- In this ESPN Insider piece Insider, NFL Insider Matt Williamson examines the top destinations for Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

Murray
Murray finished with a league-leading 1,845 rushing yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He totaled 13 rushing touchdowns and 57 catches during the regular season.

Williamson believes Murray likely will stay with the Cowboys, but pegs the San Diego Chargers as No. 6 on his list of possible landing spots for the talented back.

Williamson: "Donald Brown did nothing in his first year in San Diego and Ryan Mathews' contract is set to expire. Philip Rivers is not a young man and has taken a beating behind a constantly changing offensive line the past few seasons, so the Chargers need a running game and also have some money to spend in free agency. The line needs work, and a speedster wide receiver would be a very welcome addition, but they can't count on Branden Oliver as their lead running back if they plan to get back into the playoffs. Murray would be a great guy to lean on in the near future.”

My take: Murray is a good combination of a physical runner who can create explosive plays because of his ability to stretch the defense on perimeter runs. He explodes through contact and accelerates well at the second level. I also like his pass-catching ability out of the backfield, which would be a good fit for San Diego's offense. However, Murray turns 27 on Feb. 12, so age is a concern. Even more concerning is Murray's injury history -- he's played one, 16-game season in his four-year pro career. And with what the Chargers have gone through with Mathews, I would be surprised if general manager Tom Telesco invested the type of money necessary in free agency to secure a player with Murray's resume, particularly heading into a draft loaded with game-changing prospects at running back.
SAN DIEGO -- Shareece Wright could be looking for the upcoming season. The versatile corner started 14 games and played in a career-high 788 snaps for the San Diego Chargers in 2014, finishing sixth on the team in tackles with 60 and totaling 10 pass breakups.

Wright
The USC product showed improved play as a tackler and a defender. But he also failed to put up better numbers as a playmaker, with just one career interception in four seasons.

A third-round selection by the Chargers in 2011, Wright is one of 17 undrafted free agents for San Diego expected to hit the market in March.

"I would love to come back," Wright said. "This is where I was drafted. This is the team I always wanted to play for. Playing press, man-to-man corner, that's what I do best. And that's what we do a lot here. But it doesn't matter how I feel. It matters how they feel."

Jason Verrett, a first-round draft choice for the Chargers, will likely be penciled in as a starter after rehabbing this offseason from a second shoulder surgery. And Chargers general manager Tom Telesco liked what he saw from veteran Brandon Flowers, who also will be a free agent in March.

Along with Verrett, the Chargers have four other corners on the roster signed for 2015 in Steve Williams, Chris Davis, Greg Ducre and Richard Crawford. The Chargers also worked out CFL standout cornerback Delvin Breaux this month.

"I thought Shareece made some strides from last year to this year," Telesco said. "And he got better. He's done a really nice job for us."

Although he would like to come back, the Southern California native wouldn't mind experiencing another part of the country.

"I'm open to anywhere," he said. "It would be different to get away and get out of California for once in my life. But who knows."

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