Chargers Strengthen their Running Game with Ryan Mathews

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Photo from 'SD Dirk' via FlickrWhen the Chargers released LaDainian Tomlinson earlier this year, many of us weren’t too surprised. However, it still left a hole in the heart of many die-hard Charger fans. For the past nine seasons, we had grown to love LT as our very own, proudly sporting the number 21 on our backs all over town.

It was like salt to the wound when we discovered that he was moving on to the Jets, the team that knocked us out of the playoffs. We wish him the best as he starts the next chapter in his NFL career, as the Chargers themselves are embarking on a new chapter as well.

This year, the Chargers went into the draft with the objective of fulfilling their running back and defensive tackle needs. In order to get the running back they wanted, the Chargers gave up their 1st round (28th overall), 2nd round and 4th round picks, along with inside linebacker Tim Dobbins in exchange for the Miami Dolphin’s number twelve first round pick (also their 4th and 6th round picks). The Chargers then moved up to 12th to draft Ryan Mathews, the big and quick running back from Fresno State. He totaled 1808 yards on 276 carries and scored 19 rushing touchdowns during his junior year at Fresno State.

According to The Official San Diego Chargers Forum, Mathews gives the Chargers “an every down back to team with Darren Sproles. After languishing near the bottom of the league in rushing the past two seasons, the Chargers’ running game is poised to make a resurgence with Mathews serving as the feature back.”

While at Fresno State and even while at West High School in Bakersfield, Mathews wore No. 21 in honor of LT, his “favorite running back,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

Many San Diegans are pleased with the Chargers’ new roster; however, there are mixed feelings about the draft picks.

“The Chargers were aggressive in getting the player they really wanted, but they may have spent too much to get him,” UCSD senior and NFL enthusiast Grant Bristow says while giving his take on the Charger’s draft. “They had a lot of needs in their defensive front seven but couldn’t get any until midway through the third round. But I still think the players they got were solid players that fit their needs.”

Tony Faith, El Cajon native and lifelong loyal Charger fan, says, “I think they did the right thing. With the recent decline in LT’s performance it was a good move to pick up a younger running back.”

Other new Chargers to look out for:

  • Washington’s Donald Butler as one of their new inside linebackers. The Chargers Forum describes Butler as “a versatile player with instincts and awareness to be an impact player in the middle of their defense.”
  • Cam Thomas, a defensive tackle from North Carolina, will be a back up defensive lineman. Thomas’s powerful strength and ability to occupy double teams will open up the space needed for the team’s linebackers. The Chargers Forum describes Thomas as “a huge value pick.”
  • Kansas’s Darrell Stuckey, known as a great tackler, will be in contention for a safety spot.

Although abundant playing time for these newcomers isn’t exactly a sure thing, many of us are expecting great things from Ryan Mathews, the third highest drafted Fresno State Bulldog. But the question still looms, will he be the next LT?


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