AJ Smith Recaps the First Day

AJ Smith running his first Draft as General Manager of the San Diego Chargers pulled the plug on three defensive backs to improve a 32nd ranked pass defense and one offensive lineman to provide depth at the tackle spot.

The first topic of discussion was the trade that netted the Chargers an extra second round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

"When you know your player is there and you are getting another pick that is the ultimate," said AJ Smith. "Now instead of having a first round and a 2nd round, we have an opportunity to get two 2's.

"When you can still get the player you want and get that extra 2…Bingo!"

It was obvious that Smith wanted to honor the late John Butler by doing him justice in this draft and Smith felt like he did just that.

"That first and second round and third round, particularly those first and seconds have to be real good football players. You want to get out of the gate. And I think we did with the secondary help that we got."

While evaluating every player possible Smith did point out the work the scouts did to prepare for this draft in particular.

"There was a heavy defensive emphasis in the scouting procedure by the scouts," said Smith.

Smith went on to downplay the significance of Drayton Florence playing at a small school versus lesser competition.

"Level of competition, we don't care. I have been asked that a million times and wherever the players are…we have to determine whether that player warrants consideration."

What he did not dispute was the pre-draft press conference comments regarding a defensive emphasis in the draft. If anything Chargers fans can expect more of the same on day 2.

"We said there was going to be a defensive emphasis," said A.J. Smith. "The reason we went all defensive backs is cause of how excited we were with the players available. We were a little fearful of them going to someone else. It is a chess game. If I don't take him this round we he be there the next, well no one knows that."

On Courtney Van Buren:

"He's a big guy, and all of our people are really excited about him, especially his position coach (Hudson Houck) who we think is a heck of a teacher," said Smith. "With our situation at tackle, we wanted to get a young guy who has a bright future with a lot of upside. He's young, bright and athletic. We think he has that. We don't think that much of a project."

Referring to Terrence Kiel, Drayton Florence, and Sammy Davis:

"They are big and fast and they are physical and they have talent. Quentin Jammer is young, this crew is young. We know we're young there, and we know there are going to be some growing pains. But we feel like it's an area where we can gel a few years down the line. We are trying to grow together."

"We had to get young, big, fast and tough in the secondary. They are young kids, there pro careers will be underway."

"It is a tough league the NFL, but hopefully they grow together, and a couple of teammates are out of Texas A&M. They will get on the same page real quick."

Denis Savage can be reached at Denis@ChargerUpdate.com or via the following link: Denis Savage

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