San Diego Chargers GM A.J. Smith was refreshingly transparent with CBS Sports' Clark Judge about the thinking behind his picks and overall draft plan. One very interesting part of that part was considering only defenders in the first round.
"We had a cluster of nine players we were looking at, including three we didn't think would be there, but they weren't mixed. It was all defense," said Smith.
The Chargers got one of three that they didn't expect to be there, DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. Smith said seeing Ingram fall to their pick gave him a feeling in the war room that he hadn't experienced in "quite a while."
While they were fortunate to get the best player left on the board in many people's estimation, they were also fortunate that Ingram fit their rigid commitment to going defense in the first round. Why would Smith eliminate one side of the ball in the first?
1. Commitments to offense in free agency: The Chargers gave big bucks to Robert Meachem and Jared Gaither. Both got more than their top defensive pickup, linebacker Jarret Johnson.
2. Holes on defense: A starting strong safety, a top-notch pass-rusher, and depth at defensive end gave the defense major needs going into the draft, and they just happened to match with the first three picks.
3. Strength of defensive players in the mid-first: Every team (but one) that picked between Nos. 9 and 19 took a defender. Most of the best talents after the elite six blue-chip players in this draft were on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chargers knew they were going to improve their defense in the first round, and they had good reasons. They never could have dreamed that they would get a multifaceted clutch talent like Ingram.
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