San Diego Chargers NFL Draft Review: Looking Back to 2010 Draft Class
Now that fans of the San Diego Chargers have had about a week to cool down from the end of their 2010 season, which closed with a 33-28 win against the Denver Broncos, it's about time that we start to look back, look forward, up, down and sideways (well, maybe just look back and look to the future).
By now most of you have probably seen my bit (and here comes a shameless article plug) about 10 guys the Chargers should consider targeting in this year's draft.
What I forgot is, how can we look towards this draft when we haven't even considered how the 2010 NFL Draft turned out for the San Diego Chargers.
So, in order to cover my tracks, and in order to give you all some more stuff to fill the void while most people focus on the NFL playoffs, here's a little review of the last draft class, and what it took to get there, for the San Diego Chargers.
First Round: Ryan Mathews
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The San Diego Chargers paid a hefty price to move up to the No. 12 slot in the 2010 NFL Draft to select Ryan Mathews out of Fresno State, and there's a part of me that still wonders whether or not it was worth it.
On the one hand, Mathews has given the Chargers plenty reason to believe that he can be that guy, especially in his season finale performance of 120 yards and three touchdowns.
That game, among others, gives reason to believe that Ryan Mathews can be that guy. He moves well from sideline to sideline, he recognizes holes, and he has enough of a burst and decent enough top speed to rip off large chunks of yardage.
On the other hand, there has been plenty not to like about Mathews, starting with the lengthy injury.
While injury is never something you can predict, lingering problems can still be a sign of concern, and that is what really held Mathews back this year. After suffering a high ankle sprain early in the season, Mathews sat out a few games and came back, only to end up limited or sitting for most of the rest of the season.
In the end, giving a grade to this pick is tough. The Chargers proved that they could move the ball just fine without Mathews, and the price to move up in the draft to get him was high, but the Chargers knew that they needed to address their running game, and that made Ryan Mathews the logical pick.
I'm going to give this one a B, because there are just too many negatives to even think about anything higher.
Third Round: Donald Butler
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It's hard to really judge this pick, because Donald Butler ended up on Injured Reserve before playing a game.
As far as the draft process went, though, Donald Butler was a bit of a reach. With plenty of quality left on the board, the Chargers chose instead to address depth at inside linebacker, which is hardly a need at all.
San Diego probably would have been better served going for a tight end or a wide receiver, but it's no use at this point, this is all history.
I'm tempted just to push this one, but I'm going to give this pick a C, because it was a reach, and Donald Butler, while talented, didn't play a single snap this year.
Fourth Round: Darrell Stuckey
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There was a time this year where people believed that Stuckey would give Steve Gregory and Paul Oliver a run for their money when it came to who gets to play the strong safety position.
Instead, Stuckey spent practically the entire year riding the pine, as Gregory and Oliver seemed to explode on the scene while Stuckey himself seemed to fizzle.
He stuck on the active roster, which is a nice plus, and gives us the idea that he may be the kind of guy that will develop for a while before getting the starting nod.
For a fourth rounder, that's really all you can ask. Sure, it would be nice if the Chargers had picked up someone who could make a bit more of an impact, but the fact that he can provide depth will do.
I'll give this one a B/B-. He needs to get some more playing time before I convince myself he was the best choice.
Fifth Round: Cam Thomas
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Much like Darrell Stuckey, Cam Thomas was heralded as a draft day steal and the kind of guy who could develop into a Jamal Williams-like 3-4 defensive tackle, but ended up warming the bench for a good majority of the year due to the emergence of Antonio Garay as the star DT.
The little that Cam Thomas did play, though, made it seem like he has a promising future ahead of him.
As long as Antonio Garay continues to play at the level he played this year, the Chargers will not be starting Thomas any time soon. However, he can still serve a role as a rotational player, and, depending on his development, could challenge for a start some day.
This one gets a B+, because Thomas played a bit and showed that he could have a bright future in front of him. For a fifth round pick, that's pretty impressive.
Fifth Round: Jonathan Crompton
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Considering that Crompton didn't even make it onto the practice squad, I'd say this one didn't work out very well.
The goal here was to find a guy to replace Charlie Whitehurst, or even to prepare to take over for Billy Volek, but the Chargers made a complete belly flop on this one.
With semi-successful backup rookies like Rusty Smith, Joe Webb and Tony Pike left on the board, taking a guy with big time bust potential like Crompton was probably not the most intelligent choice.
Again, it's easy to say that the intelligent decision would have been to go with x, y or z instead of c, but hindsight is 20/20, so it's hard to put full blame on anyone.
I'll give this one a B-/C+, because while it's hard to fault the Chargers for not looking at other, more promising candidates, the one they did end up taking didn't even make the practice squad. That's a bit shameful, even for a fifth round pick.
Seventh Round: Dedrick Epps
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This one is a bit embarrassing for the Chargers, because not only did the Chargers not keep him on the active roster or the practice squad, but he was picked up by Miami and placed on their active roster.
Now, mind you, he only played in three games for them, and didn't record a single stat, but it still appears as though someone has seen talent in him that the Chargers did not.
In any case, this was a seventh round pick, so they can't be faulted once again, but it's still tough to see a team toss a player away and have them make the roster somewhere else, something that the Chargers are intimately familiar with (See Rodney Harrison, Wes Welker, Junior Seau, Justin Peelle, etc.)
Let's go with a C as a final grade. There wasn't much talent the Chargers could have gone with aside from Epps, but having him end up on another team's active roster is just a bit saddening.
Trade From No. 28 To No. 12
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The Chargers started the 2010 draft off with a bang by moving up 16 places to pick Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews.
But of course you all know that.
In exchange for the No. 12 pick, the Chargers gave the Miami Dolphins inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, the No. 12 pick, the No. 40 overall pick, their sixth round pick and they swapped fourth round picks.
It's hard to figure out where to side on this issue. As a fan of the Bill Belichick manner of draft (i.e. collecting as many draft picks as possible), I was not happy with this trade up. The Chargers gave up a lot to grab a guy who would have gone a couple more picks down the board.
Ryan Mathews also ended up not having the same kind of effect on the team that the Chargers thought he would. A high ankle sprain hindered him for a good amount of the season.
This trade gets a C. The Chargers gave up too much for a guy who was going to fall further down in the draft, and the fact that Mathews didn't quite contribute what they expected didn't help.
Trade From No. 91 to No. 79
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This was another case of the Chargers giving up way too much for way too little.
Donald Butler was going to end up being a reach at No. 91 anyway, but San Diego felt the need to trade up and grab him. In exchange for the No. 79 pick, the Chargers gave up the No. 91 pick (third round), the No. 173 pick (sixth round), and a fourth round pick in the 2011 draft.
This puts the Chargers in a bad position this year. Not only did Donald Butler not contribute, but San Diego had to give up their fourth rounder this year for him.
This trade gets a D. Gave up way too much for not nearly enough.
Overall Draft Grade
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Now that the dust has settled and we have a clear picture of what the trades and the picks have done for the Chargers, A.J. Smith isn't looking so good on this one.
The Chargers gave up a pick in this year's draft, only one of their six picks made serious contributions, and three didn't end up making the active roster (I'm including Donald Butler in that count as he spent the whole year on IR).
The judges have made their decision on the 2010 draft class. It's a C for this one. A lot of the moves didn't help the Chargers draft position in 2011, and the talent that they garnered didn't end up doing much for them, especially considering the price they paid.
2011 NFL Draft Positioning
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Despite the fact that the Chargers have given up some of their picks in the 2011 draft, they find themselves in a good position. Here are the picks that the Chargers currently have:
1 - No. 18
2 - Potentially two should the Jets win their playoff game against Indy (Conditional pick in Cromartie trade)
3 - Potentially three. One from the Whitehurst trade, and one from the Cromartie trade
With five selections in the first three rounds, the Chargers are in a good position to either play power broker or to gather a good amount of high end talent.
San Diego is in a good position to make some good things happen this year.