If I was Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith i would never not were Hawaiian shirts, laugh every time i heard the name Marty Schottenheimer, and wear to much hair gel, but that's beside the point. More importantly, if I was A.J. Smith, i would be acting like a kid the night before Christmas. The NFL Draft is approaching, time to work my magic. If you do not know AJ Smith, then you should. He is largely responsible for putting together what is regarded as the NFL's most talented roster and since being named the Chargers GM in 2003 after the death of mentor John Butler, have earned a reputation as a man who does not settle or negotiate, and takes a risk or two on draft day. To familiarize yourself with the man who has turned the Chargers from laughingstock to elite, here is a list of his NFL doings:
- Calls Eli Manning's bluff, drafting him after Eli said he would not play for the Chargers. He then traded Eli for QB Philip Rivers, the Giants 05 1st Round Pick (OLB Shawne Merriman) and3rd Round Pick (Nate Kaeding) All three of which have mad a Pro Bowl appearance.
- Signed undrafted TE Antonio Gates. (Gates has been the Chargers primary receiving threat since 2004 and is widely regraded as the best TE in the game
- Allowed QB Drew Brees to leave as a Free Agent
- 04 Draft 3 Pro Bowlers (Kaeding and Rivers) and C Nick Hardwick. Also drafted defensive stand outs LB Shaun Phillips (31 sacks in 4 years) and DE Igor Olshansky who is a great 3-4 DE
- 05 Draft Shawne Merriman, DE Luis Castillo, WR Vincent Jackson, RB Darren Sproles all of whom have contributed largely to the Chargers 46-18 record in the last 4 years
- 06 Draft Pro Bowlers LT Marcus McNeil (2 Pro Bowls to start career) and CB Antonio Cromartie (led league in INTs) Both picks were high risk, high reward as both players had injury issues coming out of college, Cromartie had never started a collegiate game
- After much turmoil and fighting, fired coach Mart Schottenheimer
- Hired Norv Turner as coach
- Traded for WR Chris Chambers
Needless to say the man knows how to wheel and deal. He has been called the best GM in the NFL by many and with good reason. So what does Smith have in mind for the leagues most talented team? A team which is said to have few to no holes? for the 2008 NFL Draft. Well If I was AJ Smith here's what i would do, round by round
- Trade the 27th Overall Pick. The Chargers do not have a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick due to trades and the supplemental draft. With no pressing need the Chargers can go best player available or trade out. Now if they do keep the pick the Chargers will look to get a nose tackle, tackle, safety, corner, or running back. It is highly unlikely that the Chargers would select a RB in the 1st round nor a CB who would only play nickel back behind Cromartie and CB Quentin Jammer. That leaves nose tackle, tackle and safety. The safety class is very thin so it is unlikely that Kenny Phillips, the playmaking safety the Chargers desire to push S Clinton Hart, will be there. At tackle the choice may be Gosder Cherilius, but he to will most likely be gone. Kentwan Balmer is the NT that may be available, if he is the Chargers will grab him and groom him to be Jamal Williams replacement. I see the Chargers will trade for a 2nd and 3rd in exchange for their first, most likely to a team that needs a QB, like the Ravens or Falcons.
- With that second round pick, look for the Chargers to go tackle. RT Jeromy Clary is decent, but he is not at the level the Chargers desire.
- Draft a CB. With the loss of Drayton Florence the Chargers need a nickel back. They drafted CB Paul Oliver in the supplemental draft, but the Chargers need depth and Oliver may be moved to safety.
- The Chargers do not have a 4th round pick nor do i see them trading for one.
- Draft a Running Back. The Chargers need to replace Michael Turner and this draft is full of RBs. Tulane's Matt Forte may be available here or ECU's Chris Johnson.
- Guard. The Chargers lack depth along the offensive line and AJ Smith is notorious for drafting offensive lineman in the late rounds.
- DE/NT. The Chargers also need to add depth along the defensive line. look for them to draft a NT of a 3-4 DE to add depth along their talented defensive line.
The draft is just days away and as always AJ Smith is licking his chops. Will he add yet another Pro Bowler or find another draft day gem. History indicates he will and that is a scary prospect for the other teams in the NFL. The rest of the league has been warned.