Yet, there are some who believe Mathews may take some time to get going. The big, fast Fresno State running back was taken by San Diego at No. 12 after the team gave up a ton to get in position to draft him.
The Chargers think he is a perfect fit to help both in the running and passing game. He is the player San Diego targeted to help revive the team’s ground game. San Diego was 31st in the NFL in rushing last season.
I think Mathews has a chance to gain 1,000-1,300 yards and catch 35-45 balls as a rookie. If he reaches that range, San Diego will be very pleased.
Below are some of your sound-off responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:
Jeff Danzig from Oceanside, Calif.: Ryan Mathews will make an immediate impact guaranteed. LT can blame the O-line as much as he wants but he is done and i'll be surprised if he doesn't retire halfway through the season. Mathews will make the Chargers O-line look like the best in the league. This is going to be one of the most amazing offenses in NFL history. You just watch...
Blotmaniaabq from Albuquerque: I believe that Ryan Mathews is going to be a great RB for the San Diego Chargers. He has the speed and size to be successful. He is a nice guy, has a great demeaner, and is not a primadona. Ryan is loved by the fans, the coaches, and the players. The team has rallied around him. I believe that he will rejuvenate the Chargers running game and will be in the running for ROTY.
Wilkie Santos from Spokane: I think that Mathews has a very good chance to make an immediate impact. He is a strong runner who can run up the middle and fight for those extra yards. He will make an immediate impact. The real question is how big of an impact will he make. Ill say 1100-1350 yards rushing easy!
Jacob from Kansas: Yes i think Mathews is good, but i dont think he will make as big of an impact as everyone thinks he will. Even though the chargers are still a good team i think he will struggle in his first year... A couple of years from now the chargers will have one of the best running backs in the league. again.
Jeff E. from Claremont, Calif.: Bill, I'd love to see Matthews make an immediate difference. But both LT and Sproles had similar troubles moving the ball last year, and no one was suggesting that something was wrong with Sproles. Doesn't that suggest that the offensive line was not getting the job done? Unless the run blocking improves, it's not really going to matter much who is taking the hand offs, will it?
Jason from Pasadena, Calif.: In regards to your Ryan Mathews question, I think that he will make a tremendous impact but it's not going to be immediate like everyone thinks. It'll be around Week 10 or 12 and into the playoffs is where you will see Mathews really take off. The Chargers will rely heavily on a rotation of Mathews, Mike Tolbert, Jacob Hester, and, of course, Darren Sproles until Mathews shows Norv Turner that he is ready to carry the workload. When you have the offensive arsenal the Chargers do, there's really no need to rush him.
Mike H. from Philly, Pa.: Yes, Ryan Matthews will make a huge difference. Think back to LT from the 2007 season. That was the last year he was in peak form. Rivers was good, but not great. Gates was there, but the best WR was Chris Chambers (who was traded there in mid season), and Norv was still trying to install his scheme; they still came close to knocking off the Pats in the championship game with Rivers on a bad knee. Now (assuming RFA's sign), you have one of the best receiving corps, a good OL, Sproles at his peak as a 3rd down threat, and Rivers is an elite QB. Add in a good (not great, no assumptions yet) RB who can help get good 1st and 2nd down yardage, and you have the makings for a powerhouse offense that can stand up to anyone. LT was a great back who could do it on his own without anyone else around him in his prime. RM only needs to be a good back early on, as everyone else around him is closer to greatness, which in turn will make it that much easier for him to become great...
Martin from Fresno: People don't like Ryan Mathews because he is from a weaker conference. He led the nation in yards and ripped 150+ yards against boise and wisconsin. People forget that L.T. was from a weaker conference and look what he did.
Paul M. from San Diego: I question any running back's ability to make an immediate impact on a team; which is also why I question any first round pick used on that position. Running success is a product of offensive scheme, offensive line quality, quarter-back play and play-calling. Look at Kansas City a few years back - after Priest Holmes went down, it was essentially guaranteed that Larry Johnson would have success too...Bill YOU could have run for 1000 yards behind that offensive line! It was one of the best in recent memory.In my opinion, running back is the most overrated position in the NFL. There are obviously outliers like LT and Emmitt Smith who has incredible careers for lengthy periods of time, but for the most part running backs only last a few years in the NFL before disappearing. All a team needs is someone healthy and durable who can make smart decisions with the ball and hang onto it. I can't remember the last Super Bowl winner with a super-star running back. It just isn't necessary.
Keith Newcomb from Fresno: Mathews will be an immediate impact player for the Chargers. I watched his career with Fresno State and he did nothing but get better every season. His stats for last year would have been even better if he was allowed to play the whole game in the blowouts. Always a workhorse, broke many long runs even when other teams stacked the box. Smart move by the Chargers.
Russ Horvath from San Francisco: Bill, I think Ryan Matthews will scald the turf at the Q this fall. He's teeming with confidence, Rivers seems to dig the guy like a brother already, the team is eager to help him, he's humble, not outspoken, and is the perfect fit for the team. The fact that he's a lifelong Chargers fan means it's his dream job. Isn't job happiness a motivation/comfort factor? Plus, I really hope Cory Jackson makes the team at FB. We need an old-school, hardnose, punch you in the face sort of guy at FB, and that's exactly what Cory Jackson is. The hybrid thing didn't really work out with Tolbert and Hester, lets bring in a new Lorenzo Neal.
Albert from Idaho: I'm not expecting anything spectacular out of Ryan Mathews in his rookie year but he should be an immediate impact for the team and the running game will be better this year. This guy will be a stud in the next few years.
Todd from San Diego: What Ryan Mathews does this year will depend heavily on the Charger's free agent situation. If McNeil is a holdout, it will be hard for Mathews to find any holes to run through. However, if Jackson is a holdout, the Chargers may rely more on the run game, which it would be interesting to see how Mathews responds.