No avoiding it, Mathews is a first-rounder

Ask yourself if this sounds familiar: The Chargers draft a running back from a Western Athletic Conference school, give him more than 300 attempts as a rookie and he goes on to a Hall of Fame career.

That was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001. Now the Chargers are trying to recapture that magic with Ryan Mathews in 2010.

Still, there seems to be a lot of skepticism with Mathews. I am a mocking fool, but some of my fellow fantasy enthusiasts have at times chided me for taking Mathews in the first round of recent mock drafts. Not as much flak as the guy who took a player from the Colts with each of his first five picks (including the Colts defense), but flak nonetheless.

Trying to figure out what people are knocking here … is it the rookie factor? Because Norv Turner has been successful with rookies before. And remember, Turner was the offensive coordinator during Tomlinson’s rookie season.

Is it because people are not familiar with Mathews? I understand that not many almost missed a friend’s rehearsal dinner because Boise State was playing at Fresno State on a Friday night last fall. But take a look at the video above — key in at the 22-second mark — and see what Mathews can do. The guy is a monster. Most taking their first look at Mathews at Chargers’ camp often remark about how big he is.

Even Philip Rivers admitted as much to me.

Take some time and watch the highlights of Mathews, and watch him work in the preseason. Then I’ll ask you to try and resist him at the end of the first round of your fantasy draft. I dare you.

Adam Rank

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