Rookies fill needs for Jets, Eagles, Chargers

Rookie minicamps start on Friday for three teams that missed the playoffs in 2012: San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.

It’ll be the first look at two of the more high-profile quarterbacks from this year’s draft class, Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, but there are other storylines worth keeping an eye on.


The Chargers are one team that does not have a question at quarterback. Philip Rivers has started every game in San Diego since the start of 2006.

However, Rivers was sacked a franchise-record 49 times in 2012. That’s one reason the Chargers selected OT D.J. Fluker in the first round. It marks the first time the Bolts drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since taking James Fitzpatrick in 1986. From 1987-2012, San Diego was the only team that did not draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

Fewest Yards Before Contact Per Rush
2012 Season

Protecting Rivers isn’t the only reason the Chargers drafted Fluker. In 2012, San Diego was tied with the Detroit Lions for the fewest 20-yard runs. The Chargers also were one of two teams that averaged less than 2.0 yards per rush before contact.

In the second round the Chargers traded up to draft Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. The 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up intercepted seven passes in 13 games, the most by a linebacker since 2006.


The Eagles drafted offensive players with their first two picks (OT Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz). In Andy Reid’s 14 seasons with the Eagles, they drafted offensive players with their first two picks only once (2009, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy).

In 2012, the Eagles used nine different starters on the offensive line, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. That inconsistency on the offensive line is one reason the Eagles allowed the most quarterback pressures (239) last season.

Only one offensive lineman, left guard Evan Mathis, start all 16 games last season for the Eagles.

Passes Last Season
20 or More Yards Downfield

With Michael Vick a free agent after next season, the Eagles drafted QB Matt Barkley in the fourth round. Barkley was the third QB selected by the Eagles in the first four rounds of the last four drafts (Nick Foles in 2012, Mike Kafka in 2010).

Two areas where Barkley excelled at USC were passing against the blitz and deep passes. Both are areas that Philadelphia’s quarterbacks struggled in last season.


The Jets have not been stellar at the quarterback position over the last few years. Mark Sanchez has the lowest Total QBR in the NFL since 2009.

In the second round, the Jets drafted Geno Smith out of West Virginia to compete with Sanchez and newcomer David Garrard for the starting QB job. Smith is the fourth QB the Jets have drafted in the second round in the Common Draft Era (since 1967). The first three went a combined 12-29 in starts with the Jets.

Jets QBs Drafted in 2nd Round
Common Draft Era

At West Virginia, Smith relied on screens (34.2 percent of his passes were at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2012) and shotgun passing (over 96 percent of his passes out of shotgun during his college career). The Jets were one of the league’s worst teams on screen passes last year.

The Jets offense ranked among the bottom five in the league in points, yards and turnovers last season. They’re hoping that Smith can help drastically improve their offense in the future.