Chargers setting their draft board

The 2005 NFL Draft is just days away and the plan at Chargers Park is coming together. San Diego is making the final preparations as the day nears.

Having evaluated 986 players, broken down countless hours of film and narrowed the list down to a "34-40 guys" in the word of general manager A.J. Smith, the draft couldn't come any sooner.

The draft contingency consists of nine scouts and two directors who meet to compile all the data into a format that everyone can agree upon. The team makes a coordinated effort in finding the right players, taking talent, character, health as determined by their doctors at the Combines, and need into account.

The Chargers brass comes up with a list of six or seven players per round and ranks them accordingly. They also have a supplemental list of players who they don't think will be there but would jump at if they did fall.

Four positions have been deemed off-limits.

"Some positions we will not get involved with – quarterback, running back, punter and kicker," said Smith. "All other positions are wide open and we'll evaluate that and see if someone can come in here and help us.

"The quarterback position, we believe, is solid with the crew we have. We also believe we have good depth at running back. We're three deep and there are two additional development players in Calvin Murray and Ahmaad Galloway who are both doing very well in Europe. Galloway is first in rushing and Murray is second.

"We know about the punter and the kicker. We think they are special. The last two drafts we concentrated on getting one of each. Nate Kaeding is a guy we think is a special talent."

The final board doesn't come together until Friday. It begins on Thursday with a magnetic board as names get placed based on rankings. The ranking start at the top and work all the way down to players they will consider in undrafted free agency.

The debate rages on through the day and long into Friday as the team puts aside its select few – the ones they are keying in on.

It is an entire staff project and will shape the future of the San Diego Chargers football team.

Love for the game will likely out distance the rankings if there are two players coupled together on their board. Building a high character team is the wave of the future in San Diego.

After a 12-4 season, they can probably afford to take a chance or two on a player later in the draft but have come through smelling like roses in recent years with their solid picks.

"We're looking for players," Smith admitted. "We're excited this time of the year. Hopefully you make the right decisions and they'll be with you for a period of time. You can't make mistakes so that you're spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere."

Wrong decisions are something the Chargers have been known for in the past. Now isn't the time to rehash the past when the future is set to begin on Saturday.

Smith has turned that around and while the draft will always be something the fan looks forward to, they do so with hope instead of fear in San Diego.

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