The San Diego Chargers lost Mike Tolbert in free agency to the Carolina Panthers. Tolbert’s 2010 season was his most productive one in the NFL as he had 182 rushing attempts for 735 yards and 11 touchdowns. Tolbert had fewer carries in 2011 which was to be expected since Ryan Mathews was the 12th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Tolbert finished 2011 with 121 carries for 490 yards, eight rushing TDs and two TD receptions. Mathews had 51 percent of the team’s rushing attempts in 2011, but San Diego may not have a suitable backup for him.
Le’Ron McClain was signed as a free agent to protect Mathews by blocking for him. McClain’s best season as a player came in 2008 for the Baltimore Ravens when he ran for 902 yards on 232 attempts with 10 TDs in 16 games. Since that season, McClain has 89 carries for 316 yards and three TDs in 47 games. McClain will do his job blocking for Mathews, but this currently leaves Curtis Brinkley as San Diego’s backup running back. In Brinkley’s career, he has 32 attempts for 112 yards and one TD.
The Chargers need to add a pass rusher, add depth on their offensive line, add depth to the receiver position and solve their strong safety problems, so the team may decide to draft an RB in the fourth, fifth or sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Mathews deserves to be the primary RB on San Diego’s roster, but it would be a plus for the Chargers to add a reliable backup who will get the job done when Mathews takes his breathers on the sideline.