After you’ve studied all the stats and 40-yard times, and all the bench presses and agility drills, here is something else to consider about the Chargers’ 2007 draft class:
LSU wide receiver Craig Davis, Utah safety Eric Weddle, Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters, Iowa tight end Scott Chandler and Boise State wide receiver Legedu Naanee all spent at least four years in the college environment.
Only seventh-round pick Brandon Siler, a Florida linebacker, came out early after his third season on campus as a junior.
In other words, they’ve got football seasoning and off-the-field maturity from the college environment.
The Chargers and fans get their first look at the 2007 draft class this weekend at a three-day mini-camp at Chargers Park. The Friday workout is closed, but the Saturday and Sunday practices are open to the public.
The Chargers work out on Saturday from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, they work out from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Davis, the Chargers’ first-round pick that they believe can develop into league-leading receiver, said his junior and senior years at LSU were important to his development.
“I’ve grown a lot,” Davis said. “I went from being a 17-year-old freshman, a young guy, to playing in front of 90,000 fans at Tiger Stadium. I was real nervous. I’ve played with great players. I won a national championship my freshman year. I think that whole process at LSU was the best thing for me. It was the best atmosphere for me.”
Compare that thought process to San Diego State defensive end Antwan Applewhite. After leading the Mountain West Conference in sacks his junior year in 2006, he was advised by head coach Chuck Long and his veteran staff he needed another year of college football to enhance his draft status.
Instead, Applewhite ignored the advice, listened to others and declared for the draft. He went undrafted, which means he didn’t get the bonus money that comes with being drafted. The Chargers signed him as a free agent, but the bonus money doesn’t compare and he’ll be a long-shot to make the team.
Some mock drafts had the Chargers taking USC receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith in the first round, but the Chargers considered Davis a better well-rounded athlete.
Davis was the 30th pick in the first round, Jarrett the 45th pick in the second round and Smith the 51st in the second. That extra year in college meant a lot to Davis’ maturity on and off the field. It also meant a lot to his banker.
“You get into plusses and minuses on everyone, but I believe he is the complete guy of the three,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said. “I think (Davis) is the most complete receiver in the long haul.”
The Chargers coaches were impressed with his maturity when he visited Chargers Park to interview him before the draft.
“He’s very intelligent in terms of talking football,” Turner said. “(Receivers coach) James Lofton spent a lot of time with him. Slot receivers are usually a 4.6 guy, but he runs a 4.37. He has an understanding to play slot and the ability to stretch the defense. I see Craig being able to help us in a number ways. I think he can be a top flight receiver in this league in a couple of years.”
— TOM SHANAHAN