The San Diego Chargers traded up to draft Ryan Mathews in the first round of the 2010 draft. Heading into the fourth year of his rookie deal, Mathews still hasn’t proven that he can stay healthy enough to carry the load for the team. According to UT San Diego beat writer Michael Gehlken on FootballGuys.com, he has a “pretty clear sense” the team doesn’t view Ryan Mathews as a three-down back.
Gehlken points to the fact that the Chargers brought in running backs as evidence to his point. With Ronnie Brown last year taking three-down duties away from Mathews and with Danny Woodhead being signed this year will only serve to make sure Mathews never sees the field on third down.
What makes the decision to draft Mathews even worse was the talent that was left on the board at the time. In 2010 the Chargers were also desperate to fill the void at safety the team’s been trying to fill since the departure of Rodney Harrison. The player chosen right after Mathews was Earl Thomas who’s been fantastic for the Seattle Seahawks.
If Gehlken is right and the Chargers don’t view Mathews as a workhorse back, he’ll need to prove he can be effective on downs one and two. If he can’t, I don’t view a scenario where new general manager Tom Telesco lets Mathews play out the last year of his contract.