About the Author
Recent posts by Michael Blunda
It might have cost the Chargers more than they liked, but they have to love the fact that got exactly the guy they were coveting in Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews.
San Diego traded the 28th overall pick, 40th overall pick, ILB Tim Dobbins and swapped fourth-rounders with Miami in order to move up to No. 12 to select Mathews, also getting a sixth-round pick in return. It was a somewhat steep price to pay for GM A.J. Smith, but he obviously had his sights set on Mathews and was afraid the FBS rushing leader in 2009 wouldn't slip down to No. 28.
In Mathews, the Bolts have found their replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson, whom they released in the offseason. A strong, physical runner who can absorb contact and keep running downhill, Mathews figures to be the team's Week One starter and handle most early-down work, giving way to Darren Sproles on third downs. Widely considered the top workhorse back in this year's draft, he's a perfect fit for the Chargers' offense and fills a major need.
Smith might take some flack for giving up an early second-round pick to get Mathews, but he absolutely needed to find a runner to give the offense balance, and that's just what he did. Mathews' stock had been rising lately, and Smith couldn't take the chance that he'd fall all the way to the end of the first round.
Mathews grew up admiring Tomlinson, so it's only fitting that he takes L.T.'s spot in the San Diego backfield.
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.