Chargers set to surprise at pick 12

After months of speculation, the NFL Draft has finally arrived. The San Diego Chargers go into the Draft with three picks on the first day, including two first rounders. As of late Friday night, the Bolts appear locked in on selecting one target with the 12th overall pick and it is not the prospect many had imagined.

While many have tabbed Marcus Spears and Troy Williamson as the top targets that figure to still be on the board, it appears the Chargers are set to go another direction with the 12th overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft.

"It is believed that the San Diego Chargers will pick Mark Clayton with their 12th overall selection," a league source relayed on Friday night. "Word is Clayton moved ahead of wide receivers such as Troy Williamson."

Barring anything major, such as Mike Williams dropping into their laps or perhaps Shawne Merriman, the Chargers appear set to pull the trigger on selecting Mark Clayton – ahead of Williamson and Spears.

It doesn't come as a surprise, as Clayton can return kicks and would instantly be a threat from the receiver spot.

The other factor that lends credence is A.J. Smith has shown a propensity for grabbing his guy, even if it means taking him a little earlier than other General Managers would.

Smith has not been willing to chance selections, dropping down a few spots if the player he covets is there. He has chosen players such as Drayton Florence, Terrence Kiel, Courtney Van Buren and Igor Olshansky at a juncture when others have thought the team could have had their man a few spots later than they were drafted.

So far, the philosophy has worked out just fine.

Clayton has been equated to a Lee Evans type of receiver. Evans, drafted in the first round in 2004, caught 48 passes and scored a Buffalo Bills rookie record nine touchdowns.

At Oklahoma, Clayton holds the school career records for receptions (221), receiving yards (3,241), touchdown catches (31) and 100-yard games (15). He had nine career multi-touchdown games and averaged one touchdown every 7.0 receptions during his career.

Clayton also possesses a model character, once saving the lives of several people who were caught in an automobile accident that he narrowly escaped himself. Without regard for his own body, he assisted in helping several people from a van that had caught on fire before further harm could come to them.

Anything could happen between midnight and the time the Chargers get on the clock, but if the board falls as they expect, based on weeks of preparation, Mark Clayton appears headed to the sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean and the sunny confines of Murphy Canyon.

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