The 2010 NFL Draft wasn’t really all that long ago in a normal sense of time, but in the scope that’s used for decisions in the NFL it seems like light-years ago.
That was when the San Diego Chargers and former general manager A.J. Smith decided to trade up to the 12th overall selection in order to take running back Ryan Mathews. The hype just seemed to build around the former Fresno State ball carrier heading into the draft which left the Bolts with no choice but to move up if they wanted to secure the back’s services.
Now just three short years later it seems as if teams wouldn’t be caught dead taking a running back in the first round let alone trading up into the borderline top 10 to get one. Mathews has been an extreme disappointment in San Diego, and the Chargers have seemingly given up hope on the once highly touted back.
A new regime has arrived with no predetermined allegiances to the former first round pick, and their personnel decisions suggest that the verdict may already be in on Mathews. The signing of Danny Woodhead earlier in the offseason seemed harmless enough, but in reality it sends a clear message on the team’s feelings about Mathews.
Running backs aren’t selected near the top 10 if they aren’t expected to be on the field every single play with a chance to help the team. Woodhead was signed because he is a much better third down back than Mathews with the versatility to catch the ball out of the backfield and provide quality pass protection as well.
Michael Gehlken told Footballguys.com that “Woodhead is just better in a lot of areas than Ryan Mathews.”
That’s about as damning of a statement as can be made when comparing a player that went undrafted to a former 12th overall pick. The Chargers have gone 19 straight games without a 100-yard rusher which is an absolute joke that defines the term ineptitude.
Mathews shoulders the blame for much of those struggles, and he must turn things around and produce in 2013 if he wants to stick around for another season. He has admitted to being disappointed in his own performance up to this point of his career, but even the most humility in the world won’t save his roster spot if he fails again this coming season.