Enemy Intel: How'd the Chargers do in the draft?


Enemy Intel: How'd the Chargers do in the draft?

By Tom E. Curran

Last season, the Chargers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. They were a team that - for a large portion of 2010 - showed how untrustworthy that generally accepted statistics are; they led the league in yards gained on offense and yards allowed on defense for much of the year while losing five of their first eight. So how'd they look so good in yards gained and allowed? Their special teams were so bad that opposing offenses often didn't have to take the field. And when special teams wasn't letting them down, turnover and short fields were. The aim of General manager A.J. Smith in this year's draft was to attack the defensive side of the ball. San Diego spend four of its first five picks on defense. Needing defensive line help, San Diego got Illinois defensive lineman Corey Liuget with the 18th overall pick. Smith said the run on quarterbacks pushed Liuget down to the Chargers. San Diego went to the back end of its defense with Marcus Gilchrist in the second round (50th overall). He's seen as a very good cover corner and has return skills. He's expected to be a hybrid cornersafety. The selection of third-round linebacker Jonas Mouton from Michigan was panned as a "reach." Skinny receiver Vincent Brown from San Diego State (5-11, 184 pounds) was a third-rounder. So was USC corner Shareece Wright. He had a solid 2010 after injury-marred seasons in 2008 and 2009. That caused his value to slip. Local boy Jordan Todman of UConn went to San Diego in the sixth round, an apparent boon for the Bolts since Todman is expected to be a pretty good complementary back in the league and Darren Sproles could be a free agent when the lockout ends. SUMMARY: Meh. Uninspiring. San Diego went with players in areas of need and got some help for the back end of its defense. The best pick may end up being Todman, who never should have slipped all the way to the sixth round.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones


Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock quarterbacked a marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday in order to shed some light on the prospects who will compete at the combine later this week. One thing that stood out? He's not ready to crown anyone in this year's crop of draftable signal-callers.

As a result of the dearth of pro-ready talent at quarterback, Mayock recognized Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo as perhaps the top target for any quarterback-needy team. Garoppolo might interest the Cleveland Browns in particular, Mayock noted, because of the number of picks they have near the top of the draft.

"In my opinion," Mayock said, "if I'm the Cleveland Browns and I've got No. 1 and No. 12, if I came away with either [defensive end Myles] Garrett or [defensive tackle] Jonathan Allen at No. 1, and gave up the 12th pick in the draft to get Garoppolo? I would be stoked.

"I would feel like I had a difference-maker on defense and we had a quarterback on offense. Now let's get to work. We got five in the first 65 picks. Let's get to work. From my perspective, especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up No. 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."