San Diego Chargers
Members of the San Diego Chargers' marketing department likely were pulling out their hair after last weekend's draft.
The Chargers, apparently under the impression that they were participating in a Division I-AA rotisserie league draft, took six small-school players among their eight picks. They also selected an offensive tackle who didn't play football last season and won't be eligible to play again until '98.
Afterward, general manager Bobby Beathard insisted he had nothing against the Florida States, Nebraskas and Notre Dames of the college football world. But you had to wonder.
Two players from South Carolina State. Two from North Carolina A&T. One from Portland State. One from Sacramento State. One who didn't play last season.
The only draft pick who played major-college ball last season was North Carolina tight end Freddie Jones, whom they took with their only pick in the second round, No. 45 overall. And get this: the Chargers said they took him because they needed a run-blocking tight end, to which Jones said run-blocking was the weakest part of his game.
Round 2/45 -- Freddie Jones, TE, North Carolina
Chargers have three tight ends on the roster, but only Alfred Pupunu is a solid run blocker -- and he's recovering from ankle surgery. His presence is expected to allow the team to run two tight-end sets. Has good size (6-5, 260 pounds) with a frame to comfortably add more weight. Two-time first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference player. Last season had 32 receptions for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Started every game as a junior and senior and eight games as a freshman. Aggressive and persistent blocker. Ran the 40 in 4.68 seconds in one workout. Good hands. A solid prospect.
Round 3/74 -- Michael Hamilton, LB, North Carolina A&T
Expected to battle for strongside 'backer spot that was vacated when starter Lew Bush, an unrestricted free agent, chose not to accept the team's offer. Raw. Has played only five seasons of football, one in high school and four with the Division I-AA Aggies. Started all four years at A&T. At 6-1, 243, he's quick, fluid and aggressive. Another solid prospect, but will need time to develop.
Round 4/109 -- Raleigh Roundtree, OT, South Carolina State
The Chargers have only two tackles on their roster (Vaughn Parker and Tony Berti). They're hoping for Roundtree to be their third or fourth tackle coming out of training camp. Needs to get stronger and firmer. A first-team Division I-AA All-America last season. Was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Week on two occasions. Performed well in all-star games against higher-level competition. Didn't start playing football until high school. A reach, particularly going in the fourth round.
Round 5/138 -- Kenny Bynum, RB, South Carolina State
Was overshadowed much of his career by teammate Michael Hicks, a seventh-round pick of the Bears last season. But at 5-10 1/2 and 190 pounds, he has the acceleration to get through a crease and kick in the afterburners. Had 236 carries for 1,648 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. Often ran behind Roundtree. Voted third-team I-AA All-America. Has reputation for fumbling and suspect hands. Only breakaway threat in the backfield. Should help. Then again, almost anyone would help. Chargers ranked 29th in the league in rushing last season.
Round 5/146 -- Paul Bradford, CB, Portland State
Lacks size at 5-8, 185, but has great speed and excellent strength. A project. Expected to contribute mostly on special teams his first year. Can return kicks. Originally signed with BYU in '93. Was not in school in '94. Went to College of San Mateo, then transferred to Portland State (then Div. II) because his grades weren't good enough for Div. I-A. Impact will be negligible next season.
Round 6/178 -- Dan Palmer, OT, Air Force
Impressive at the combines. Is 6-4 1/2 and 290 pounds. Played only two games in '94 after injuring a shoulder. Started every game as a senior, but hasn't played football since the '95 Copper Bowl because Academy denied him a medical redshirt year. Hoping to join the Chargers this season but likely won't arrive until '98. Has good feet and mobility. Potential to be a solid player.
Round 7/218 -- Toran James, LB, North Carolina A&T
Chargers are eyeing him as a possible backup for middle 'backer Kurt Gouveia. Physical and tough. Is 6-3 1/2 and 247 pounds. Not as quick or as fluid as his college teammate, Hamilton, but plays more physically. Likes to get into people. Solid pick.
Round 7/237 -- Tony Corbin, QB, Sacramento State, 6-4, 215
Stumbled on by Chargers. Went to work out Sacramento State running back Daimon Shelton and had Corbin come along to throw him some passes. Ended up loving what they saw. Beathard says he has a strong arm and good touch. Excellent size. Played safety his first two years with the Hornets after playing quarterback in high school. Could have been gotten as a free agent. Yawn.