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Mailbag: Misconceptions of the Fullback Position Explained

Q: What are the chances we get one of those pure fullbacks like Lorenzo Neal for next season?  – Ian Gasenridge

A:  Questions are constantly submitted to the mailbag regarding the Chargers use of a fullback, and usually go one of two ways. The first is a misconception that the team didn't use one last year, which is false.  David Johnson saw significant time blocking out of the backfield in that position.  The other question is why the Bolts don't use a "pure fullback" anymore.  The truth is that the "pure fullback" doesn't really exist in the modern NFL as the league has evolved.  I spoke with Ken Whisenhunt for an article that will be posted later in the week in which I asked the offensive coordinator about how the team views a fullback.  Excerpts of his answer will appear in that story, but here are his full comments when it comes to the fullback position.  It is lengthy, but sheds light into a subject that keeps coming up:

*"That is a hard position to find - a 'pure fullback'.  You've seen through the years not many teams have drafted fullbacks, and even when they do, it is in the later rounds. Some of it is a function of colleges not using that position very much anymore.  *

*I think that is something you are always looking for, but then you also have to look at that player's contributions to the team. If he is just a fullback, it is hard to justify a spot on the roster for a pure fullback unless he has very good special teams abilities and he can contribute there.  What are the other things he can do?  If you look at a 60 play game, and he is only playing 15 plays, you know that when you have an injury or get certain guys not playing, then you need other guys to step up.  So the versatility thing plays into it.  *

*Now, I'm for a fullback. Don't get me wrong.  I think it is a fair question by our fans, and something that we really want to look at.  When you look at the guys who have been here before, a big thing for the Chargers has been having a valuable fullback, especially during Philip Rivers' time.  But the way offenses are going now, you just don't see a lot of those pure fullback types anymore.  But we will certainly look at that. *

I think the ideal fullback in today's NFL is a guy who can do all those things you want him to do as a fullback to the degree he can be a factor, can contribute for you on special teams and can be a potential emergency third down back.  Someone who understands protections and can even be a potential end of the game runner.  We have a young guy in Melvin Gordon that I think can do that no matter what.  But as far as talking about different guys in the backfield that can do different roles, that fullback guy has to also be able to do those different roles.  Those are all the things we look at in a fullback.

So will we look at adding a full back?  Sure we will. But there are a lot more things that go into playing that position that just being a pure fullback.  You have to dedicate time to that position. You can't just go back there and play one or two plays and think you are going to be proficient. A lot of times ,things like facing a three-technique that stunts inside, your ability to see inside and get to the second level to block the linebacker or make an adjustment in protection are all things that take reps.  Those aren't things you can just talk about on the blackboard or get in a walk-through standing on the field.  The full speed components of the position, especially in critical situations if you are talking a third-and-short or a fourth down play action, you have to have a basis with that.   Now, that doesn't mean we can't find someone to play the position or find someone to play it for us. The misconception is if you get a guy who can play it, that he can just play it.  You have to dedicate time and reps to that, and the player has to contribute in other areas as well."

Q:  Third pick, baby! What do you expect there?– Chris Pierce

A:  Even though only two players will come off the board before the Bolts pick, it is impossible to accurately project what direction the Chargers will go.  There are so many permutations on what can occur in the first and second slot, plus the possibility that the team trades back.  Still, San Diego knows that the third overall pick is a major asset, and fully expect an impact player to be available when they are on the clock.  As to what type of player that may be, check out the gallery of past third overall selections:

With the San Diego Chargers picking third in the 2016 NFL Draft, here are the most recent players selected number three overall.

Q: That Super Bowl was a real game changer. You think we see teams, especially my Bolts, look to build a defense like the Broncos?– Kobe Anderson

A:  I've heard many fans and media members utter those exact words, and I have to say I don't really understand it.  Since when did teams not want defenses that can wreak havoc on the quarterback, force turnovers and be stout against the run?  As much as I hate to say it, kudos to the Broncos to winning the Super Bowl.  But I wouldn't call their performance a "game changer" in regards to team's weighing the importance of a strong defensive unit an different than they have in the past.  All 32 teams look to build dominant defenses every offseason and nothing will change this offseason.

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