Last week, we explored Chargers GM A.J. Smith's track record in the NFL Draft over the last five years (the article can be found here ). But upon further review, I realized that many of the Chargers' successful picks (especially in the early rounds) came pre-2007 a.k.a. when Norv Turner was hired as head coach.
Does Turner really have that much of a say on Smith's drafting decisions? There have been several curious picks since he was hired, and it may be time to evaluate Turner's player scouting skills in light of the last few years' draft blunders.
In the 2007 NFL Draft, Turner got off to a rough start to his tenure as head coach with the first round selection of Craig "Buster" Davis, a wide receiver out of LSU.
On talent alone he was a debatable first-rounder, and durability concerns (which have since been confirmed many times over) made him a solid first-day pick who had no business being selected in the first round.
Davis has been a total bust in his time with the Chargers, and is not expected to be retained beyond his rookie contract.
While second-rounder Eric Weddle was a talented player in college, the Chargers may have reached in trading up to pick him so early in the second round. He has seemed to regress in every season since he joined the team, and his potential may have been mis-evaluated during the pre-draft process.
With other wasted picks such as Clemson's Anthony Waters and Iowa's Scott Chandler, the only picks of substance in 2007 were Boise State's Legedu Naanee and Florida's Brandon Siler, role players for much of their careers who are slowly gaining more experience and playing time.
In 2008, the Chargers drafted cornerback Antoine Cason out of Arizona, another good player who was deemed a borderline first-rounder.
But after a solid rookie season at nickelback, Cason was recently demoted from the role, ostensibly because he has not made the progress expected of him by the Chargers coaching staff.
In addition to Cason, the Chargers again traded up to reach for fullback Jacob Hester, who has done little to get the running game on track, along with running back Marcus Thomas and cornerback DeJuan Tribble, neither of whom are in the NFL only a year later.
It is still too early to evaluate Smith and Turner's most recent draft haul, but the results again look like a mixed bag, with Larry English leading the pack as a solid contributor thus far in the season.
Thus far, it seems apparent that A.J. Smith's recent draft struggles have seemed to coincide with his hiring of Norv Turner as head coach of the Chargers.
Since Smith appears to be beyond reluctant to fire Turner despite his struggles at leading one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, at the very least it seems necessary for him to relieve Turner of his power in the decision-making process when it comes to the draft in order to bring in more talent from the college ranks.
Norv Turner may be a "great offensive coordinator," but as a head coach and talent evaluator, he just can't seem to make the right calls.