This might not sound like much, but I have a sure-fire Chargers draft prediction: Before the NFL Draft Saturday and Sunday ends, they’ll add to their roster a player or two from San Diego State or the University of San Diego.

OK, maybe not through the draft, but certainly at least as a free agent who will be at mini-camp and training camp trying to earn a job.

Since A.J. Smith took over as general manager in 2003, the Chargers have scouted the two local university football programs thoroughly. SDSU or USD players that have made the Chargers’ roster as undrafted free agents under Smith are Kassim Osgood, Antwan Applewhite, Brandyn Dombrowski and Eric Bakhtirari.

Osgood, an SDSU wide receiver, was signed in 2003 and has developed into a two-time Pro Bowl special teams player, although he’s disgruntled about a lack of playing time as a wide receiver.

Applewhite, an SDSU defensive end, was signed in 2007 and has developed into an outside linebacker after spending time on the practice squad.

Dombrowski, an SDSU offensive lineman, was signed in 2008 and was on the practice squad last year.

Bakhtiari, a USD defensive end, was signed in 2008 and spent his first year learning to play outside linebacker on the practice squad.

If USD quarterback Josh Johnson hadn’t been drafted — he was impressive enough on his pro day and in college all-star games that

Tampa Bay took him in the fifth round last year — I’m saying the Chargers would have tried to sign him.

This year, SDSU linebacker Russell Allen (6-3, 235) and USD wide receiver John Matthews (6-0, 203) are the only players from the two schools projected as possible draft picks — both in the late rounds.

Sometimes it’s better for a player in that position not to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round, because a free agent can pick the team he feels he’ll have the best chance of making the regular-season roster. Both Allen and Matthews, I think, would be good fits for the Chargers.

Allen can play inside linebacker in the Bolts’ 3-4 scheme. Matthews is a sure-handed receiver that is strong running routes and possesses a unique ability to fend of bumps and get off the line of scrimmage. He reminds me of Eric Parker, but with better hands.

Other SDSU players with a shot at an NFL opportunity as free agents are offensive tackle Lance Louis, safety Corey Boudreaux and wide receiver Darren Mougey.

If NFL teams have done their homework, they’ll know that talented USD tight end Mitch Ryan has made a remarkable recovery from reconstructive knee surgery at mid-season and is worth taking a chance as free agent.

Some other names to watch for from San Diego high schools are Tennessee running back Arian Foster of Tennessee, Boise State wide receiver Vinny Perretta of La Costa Canyon and UC Davis offensive lineman Jon Compos of Carlsbad.

And if A.J. doesn’t mind, allow me to suggest one player I think is a good fit for the Chargers: Michigan State running back Javon Ringer. He’s a durable back, but he’s considered undersized at 5-9, 205 pounds.

What that means, is he is a player better than third-round talent in which he will be available on the second day of the draft. The first day is for rounds one and two, but the Chargers, barring a draft day trade, don’t have a second-round pick. The Bolts’ have the 16th pick in the first round.

I’m expecting a bounce back year from LaDainian Tomlinson from last year’s injuries. And Ringer is the type of player that can pound the ball. He can do it in relief of LT and take those taxing carries off LT’s shoulders. Anyone who thinks LT is done as he turns 30 years old must not have ever heard of Walter Payton or Emmitt Smith.


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