NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. DE - 3.5
2. WR - 3.0
3. OT - 3.0
4. CB - 2.5
5. RB - 2.0
6. LB - 2.0
7. TE - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Rivers is one of the bright young stars in the league and had an MVP-caliber season. Volek is his lone backup and a free agent, and they will probably make him an offer. But there's a possibility, albeit slim that he could get more money and a starting opportunity elsewhere. If that happens, they'll likely add a veteran to the mix. But they probably will also look in the late rounds for a developmental guy to hold the clipboard as the No. 3. NEED: 1.0
Running Back - Mathews didn't have the season they were hoping, due to injuries and inconsistency. But they are hoping he bounces back with a stronger 2011 campaign. Sproles is a free agent and expected to seek greener pastures, opening up the void for the team to add a new third down back. They could seek one in the middle portion of the draft as well as free agency. NEED: 2.0
Fullback - Tolbert proved valuable as a runner and blocker this year, and should get a long-term deal in the off-season. NEED: 0.0
Wide Receiver - Their top two wideouts: Jackson and Floyd are free agents. Jackson played well down the stretch, but he's not expected back after last year's face-off. Floyd instead should get the extension due to his production early in the year before injuries became rampant. Naanee and Washington are also potential free agents, and both offer depth and special teams value. But they don't need both and neither is more than a decent No. 3 guy at this point. Crayton should be back in the mix as the third guy, and it's clear that Buster Davis is no longer a commodity. This is a position that the team will want to add another playmaker to replace Jackson in the starting lineup. NEED: 3.0
Tight End - Gates is still one of the best in the game, and his injury exposed their lack of depth. Randy McMichael was a decent injury fill-in and decent No. 2 blocker. But it's clear that the time is probably right that they draft a young tight end that can fill in for Gates in case injuries don't become a thing of the past. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Tackle - McNeill proved to be invaluable once he got back into the lineup. Clary is a free agent and despite coming off arguably his best season, he hasn't played well enough over the long haul that the team should get to worried about losing him. Dombrowski gives them a decent stopgap. But their best option is to draft a long-term option at right tackle in the early portion of the draft. NEED: 3.0
Offensive Guard - Dielman and Vasquez are a solid pair of starters and Green showed he was a capable backup when he filled in for an injured Vasquez. They could add depth late in the draft, but it's not a need. NEED: 1.0
Center - Hardwick made it through every snap this year for the first time in four years, and while he wasn't spectacular, he was fairly solid. He is entering the last year of his contract, and there's a possibility they draft insurance in case they don't bring him back after the season. Mruczkowski is his top backup, and also a free agent, so they'd like to keep him because he can play multiple positions. NEED: 1.0
Defensive Tackle - Garay was a bright spot for the team up front, and with another strong season in 2011, his contract year, he should get an extension despite being already 31 years old. Cam Thomas is developing behind him, and they also have Nwagbuo to fill out the rotation here. They seem fine. NEED: 1.0
Defensive End - The dropoff seen from Luis Castillo in recent years is troubling. Cesaire is a free agent, but a better backup than a starter. If they don't go after someone in free agency, this will likely be one of their pressing priorities in the draft to try and find a different maker up front since Castillo has not been that player in recent years. NEED: 3.5
Linebacker - Larry English didn't exactly shine before injuries sidelined him, but they are probably willing to give him another year to develop before making any major moves here. But drafting a backup and pass rusher as insurance behind him makes sense. Their biggest concerns appear to be inside as their top three guys are all free agents: Cooper, Burnett, and Siler. Cooper was formerly their best, but his play has slid in recent years. Siler looks to have a bright future, and probably is the piece they would prefer most to keep. Burnett is also solid and a few years younger the Cooper, so he probably is also preferred. But assuming they lose one, if not two of those guys, they will likely seek the draft to shore up depth. NEED: 2.0
Cornerback - Cason and Jammer are a solid pair of starters, but Jammer is on the decline and the team is without a strong nickel candidate. So they will likely draft someone that can push Strickland as the nickel guy and be developed as the heir apparent to Jammer, who only has two years left on his contract. NEED: 2.5
Safety - Weddle's contract is up, but he'll be one of the few priorities they have this off-season among their own guys. So there shouldn't be fear he'll be gone. They were high on Darrell Stuckey as the prospective starter at strong safety, before a groin injury put him down for the count. He'll be back in the mix next year. The team will have to decide whether or not to bring back Paul Oliver, who started most of the year at strong safety, or roll the dice with Stuckey and Gregory competing for the gig. Oliver is a nice depth piece, but a limited starter. NEED: 1.5
Kicker - Kaeding continues to produce at a high level, but his propensity to miss clutch kicks certainly can't rub the Chargers the right way. He still has two years left on his contract, and probably isn't in serious danger of losing his job. But it makes sense at least to bring someone off the street to push him next summer. NEED: 0.5
Punter - Scifres had four punts blocked this year, but is still one of the best in the business. NEED: 0.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.