Chargers Draft may come down to moves made

The offseason conditioning program is in full swing and rookies will soon be sprinkled into the mix as the NFL Draft commences on Saturday. The San Diego Chargers are in the final stages of setting their board and are answering phone calls about the picks they own.

Rookies will be in San Diego in early May with a mini-camp slated for later in the month, awaiting the finish of their remodeled field-turf.

Before they get into town, choices have to be made. The hot names are known around town. Marcus Spears, Troy Williamson and Shawne Merriman are a few of the names that will dot the board.

While it may be safer to disregard the prospects of trading up, don't rule out a move down the draft board. The Bolts have seven picks and could use one of their first rounders to acquire more talent, particularly in the first three rounds.

The phone in San Diego has already been ringing.

"We're just beginning to hear from teams," General Manager A.J. Smith said. "The activity has begun. We've heard from teams that would like to come up to our 12 spot and we've received a call from someone who would like to deal down from a position above us.

"I like the position I'm in, especially staring at the 12th pick."

Pick number 12 in the first round was acquired from the New York Giants last year in the deal that sent Eli Manning east for Philip Rivers and a third round pick, which turned into Nate Kaeding.

Sitting at 12 could be the turning point of the draft – and thus the interest in moving up. Philadelphia is reportedly one of the teams that have dialed up the Chargers, especially if there is a running back on the board when the Bolts 15-minute timer begins.

"We do have the two ones (first-round picks). I'm comfortable with that. We have three picks in the top 61. I'm not wheeling and dealing to move up to the third.

But will he make the move to go down in the draft and acquire four picks in the top 61? It depends on the quality of talent still on the board at 12. Dropping down to 31, where the Eagles pick, may be too far down the board but they would also get pick 35, which the Eagles also own, in such a deal.

But the team won't make a move down in the draft if a player they covet is on the board. There are several such players who would make the Chargers leap to the podium in under the allotted time.

The smokescreen has yet to truly clear on whom those players are but the beat of the drum points to a defensive lineman and a wide receiver, two potential weak spots on the team.

The Bolts are also searching for an offensive tackle to groom, perhaps two linebackers, some help in the secondary and even more help for their rotational scheme on the defensive line.

After a 12-4 season, the team is not resting on its laurels, especially with a first place schedule that will test the squad assembled.

"You need talented players to succeed in the NFL," Smith added. "A lot of guys have the work ethic and the character and they want to be football players. They'll work hard at their trade. It might take a year or two to develop and that's fine. Not everybody has to come and run and go the Pro Bowl. Just come in and help us and we'll be patient with the players that have talent. Work for us and we'll work for you. We're trying to build a team like that."

Once the building is done, the rookies will join the veterans in the offseason program.

Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson knows that the work put in during the offseason sets the tone for the entire season.

"I think it's very important. The offseason is where you start building a bond as a team."

The rookies will get their chance to gel with the rest of the team soon enough. The players are still to be determined.


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