Alright, before I get to my main story here, I want to send out my prayers to the Muncie family. As already reported here on boltbeat, Chuck Muncie, one of the greatest running backs San Diego has ever seen, died from a heart attack earlier today.
I have to admit, I did not experience his active days in the NFL, but from what I hear and read, it´s clear he was a great man, on and off the field. He had his share with drugs (cocaine) but he was able to overcome his addiction and started his Chuck Muncie Youth Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1997 and based in Oxnard, to help young kids avoiding the bad decisions that he made in his early years of his life. Seems like he was a tremendous source of inspiration. So, I hope the Muncie family will have all the energy and strength to get through these dark hours – may god be with them.
Okay, BoltFam, but now lets try to get into this story right here; we are switching from a former stud running back to the current Chargers´ ground game situation.
I´ve been going through some Chargers tape from last season recently and got to watch all the “nice” highlights we´re all too familiar with: a struggling O-Line, a mediocre quarterback, a guy supposed to be the No. 1 wideout becoming one of the No. 1 bench warmers and a coach on the sidelines knowing his time in America´s finest city is coming to an end. But what I didn´t get to see was a ground game; or at least some kind of version of it.
Although the running game was a mess (or a joke or whatever you wanna call it), General Manager Tom Telesco did not address the running back position in this year´s draft. To be fair, he picked the beast from the Southern-East D.J. Fluker in the first round, who should be able to upgrade the ground game via his powerful run blocking skills. But I´ve to admit it was a bit of a head scratcher to me that he selected a quarterback (Brad Sorensen from Southern Utah) instead of a tailback or nose tackle in the last round of the draft. He did pick up Fozzy Whittaker and Danny Woodhead already in March and Michael Hill right after the draft, but when looking at the guys who would have been still available with the 221th pick, like e.g. Kerwynn Williams or Cierre Wood, I was a little bit confused why he did not pull the trigger on one of these runners (or on a nose tackle).
Talking about Cierre Wood…in my mock draft I grabbed the 22-year old running back out of Notre Dame with that last pick at 221. When I saw that he went undrafted I hoped Tom Telesco already picked up the phone talking him into competing for a roster spot in San Diego this offseason. Maybe he has done it, but the Houston Texans had more success doing the same and added him to their roster. I think he would´ve been a solid complement to Danny Woodhead, as he´s everything but a pass blocker (something the former Patriot is very good at).
But whatever – the question now is, who will be able to help Ryan Mathews in the ground game? And who can take over the lead back role when he goes down with an injury, just like he did so many times in past years? Not too sure if the “third-down backs” Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown can handle the rushing game on their own. And due to his history of (season-ending) knee injuries, Fozzy Whittaker can´t be trusted either. Edwin Baker spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad and hasn´t seen any on-field action last year, although the ground game was a mess and couldn´t have been much worse even with an unexperienced rookie.
This is where the name Michael Hill comes in.
Hill finished second in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2012; this award is the Division II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. He was the rushing leader in that division last season with 2186 yards and 16 touchdowns; but he also was able to record three receiving touchdowns.
The 5’10″, 210-pound UDFA has good speed and is capable of breaking tackles. Hill got experience in running in a zone blocking scheme, which is advantageous for both him and the Bolts. This also means that he brings along the required patience to let the O-Line do their job before he chooses his running lane.
So, we´ll have to wait and see what he can do this offseason, but his bio and that 2012 stats definitely sound promising; he should be able to make the final roster.
After all I don´t want to give up on Ryan Mathews just yet, but he is entering his fourth year with the Bolts and hasn´t done too much in the last three seasons that could cement him as legit lead back for the San Diego Chargers for the next few years. I surely hope he can do exactly that in 2013.
I´ll get to an end here right now, but I can´t close this article without mentioning that Ahmad Bradshaw is still a free agent…I´ll leave you with that (maybe we´ll get back to that in another piece).
Thank for you checking out these lines.
R.I.P. Chuck Muncie