Chargers Draft Recap

This was a curious draft. Before I start with the evaluation, I want to bring up two points. First, Butler's drafts had top 5 picks in each round. In the top 2 rounds, that provides an advantage of being able to secure droppers. In this draft, there were 12 premium players in the first round. While there was a variation in order, there were no significant reaches in this draft within that top 12 to open up a potential dropper to the Chargers pick.

Second, there are two popular; yet distinct ways to successfully run a draft. The first one is to attempt to fill multiple voids with individual players. The second is to identify a position of weakness and draft numbers with the hope that you eliminate that need and then utilize FA to fill other holes. The Chargers obviously focused on the latter of the two approaches much like Green Bay and Philadelphia have done in recent years. While some people may have disagreed with that thought process because it isn't as "sexy", it could be very effective. The lack of DL is a concern, but it appears that the Chargers did not feel any of the DL available in the draft was a significant improvement over what they had on the roster. Having looked at their DB position, I don't think that same conclusion could be made. Unfortunately, a couple of "reaches" eliminates a top grade … but overall, this draft really did shore up our weakest position. I give it a B-minus.

When the 15th pick came up, I felt the Chargers were focusing in on Troy Polamalu, Eric Steinbach, Boss Bailey, and Sammy Davis. William Joseph did not fit the type of character this team had brought to the team in the Butler/Smith regime. So when they traded down to 30, I wasn't surprised. My personal preference was Eric Steinbach, but the pick of Sammy Davis made more sense. IMO, this was a situation where you had three first round draft picks with around the same rating. The Chargers chose to select the player that best fit their needs and that was Sammy "The Candyman" Davis. A CB with similar tools to Ahmed Plummer coming out of Ohio State, Davis is a polished CB that can play multiple types of coverages pretty well (man on man, bump and run, and zone). He is also a good run support corner as well. He isn't going to be a franchise CB, but he should be a solid number 2 for years to come who should start immediately.

Drayton Florence was about a half a round reach, but it was obvious that the Chargers had targeted him as a player they coveted. With Pisa Tinoisamoa and Ken Hamlin off the board AND a run on CB's, the Chargers decided to take the physically gifted Florence. In terms of talent, Florence is the physical prototype with great size, speed, flexibility, quickness, jumping ability and strength. He's had some personal issues in the past, but Buddy Nix believes they are past him. I think he pushes Davis for the starting job, but ends up being a part time nickel back while he improves his technique and footwork. He's rawer than Jammer coming in, but this pick could very well end up like Marcellus Wiley out of Columbia who Butler and Smith selected in the 2nd round while with the Bills.

Then you have Terrance Kiel who some were surprised by, but he was the biggest riser outside of Nick Barnett in this draft. A physical SS with great awareness and intangibles, he actually fits the cover 2 better than Ohio State's All Everything, Mike Doss. While he doesn't have the flexibility and quickness to be a CB, he has outstanding cover skills for a SS. I think he is an immediate starter.

When they passed on Kenny Peterson with the Kiel selection, I felt this team was taking a risk that Peterson was going to be available in the third round. It looked like it was going to happen until Green Bay traded into the 79th position and broke our heart. Then we picked a player in Courtney Van Buren who I have never seen. Van Buren definitely has a bio, which suggests massive talent. I've heard some experts' claim he can be like James "Big Cat" Williams, but others say that he was a two round reach. I'm going to wait and see how Van Buren does in minicamp.

The second day started with All Big 10 LB Matt Wilhelm. One of the vocal leaders of Ohio State's championship run, Wilhelm should be a special teams standout. At 6'4" 245 pound LB, he has good size and adequate playing speed. He is an aggressive, tough player who can take on blockers and shed. He also has good, not great, pursuit skills. I think he is better suited to be a backup SS LB where he will be dealing with TE's vs. Centers. The Chargers could use a backup to Ben Leber and Wilhelm is the LB that is best suited for the role.

They followed that up with one of the more curious selections with Mike Scifres, a punter out of Western Illinois. I'm of the belief that you should never select a punter with the 5th round pick. Plus, I thought Darren Bennett was far from a weakness last year. Scifres will handle kickoffs for the Chargers and gives them the most talented specialist in the draft, while effectively ending the tenure of another popular Charger. I ‘m not sure if that is going to happen this year or next, but Darren Bennett shouldn't be buying any new real estate in San Diego.

The next pick, Hanik Milligan, was a late round steal. He needs some skill development and coaching to ensure that he properly reads his keys. That said; the University of Houston product is a big, strong, fast, aggressive, and physical player who should make for a nice developmental safety behind an aging Ryan McNeil. Milligan should be a special team standout and could have been the fifth pick in the draft without much complaint from me.

The last pick was another nice pickup with Andrew Pinnock. A lot like former San Diego RB, Jermaine Fazande, he is a big boy with good movement skills. He will push to be the third RB in the rotation behind Jesse Chatman and was selected where Fazande should have been selected.

So there it is, an assortment of nice prospects with a couple of reaches. My primary concern about the first AJ Smith draft is it appears that he fell in love with three players in Florence, Van Buren, and Scifres AND took them at least a half round before each player was expected to go. They probably would NOT have fallen to the Chargers next pick, but has not been the way I perceived Butler to run his drafts. I don't think this is nearly as bad a draft as Tom is laying out, but it could have been better.

We need to bring in a DT and OL with the money saved from Wiley's restructure. Before the roster is set, I think it is premature to rip AJ Smith for not filling ALL of our holes in the draft. There are other mechanisms to do it and the Chargers obviously prepared themselves to do so with their recent restructures. This draft was meant to increase talent in the defensive backfield, which it did. It brought better depth in the OL, RB, and LB positions. The saddest part of this draft is that I feel it probably should signify the end of Darren Bennett' tenure in San Diego. The concept of keeping a roster spot for a kickoff specialist doesn't seem like the smartest thing if Scifres can handle the punting duty.

Rob Curtis can be reached at the following link: Rob Curtis or at rcurtis3355@yahoo.com

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