The Justice Files

If the actual process of selecting players in the draft is a crapshoot, then the subsequent analysis of the draft is even more random. But it seems by all accounts that the San Diego Chargers succeeded on Saturday by upgrading their roster for 2005.

Along with having two talented quarterbacks under contract, the extra draft picks have been A.J. Smith's ace in the hole this offseason.

It appears he's made the most of the bounty at his disposal. He explained his selection of Shawne Merriman by saying, "If you like Steve Foley, you'll love this guy."

How can I argue with that logic? Merriman will wear the jersey number of Leslie O'Neal, another linebacker/defensive end hybrid. I've read all the same scouting reports that you have. The guy seems a little raw, but with a lot of fire and a huge upside. That's all you can ask for in this day and age.

I mentioned last week that Jamal Williams may not be a Charger in a couple of years. Luis Castillo will provide depth on the line immediately and may one day be a factor in Williams' future in San Diego. Much has been made of his positive steroid test, but The Organization is extra wary (see Ryan Leaf) these days of head cases and they're satisfied that Castillo is a solid guy.

Vincent Jackson is 6-foot-5 and should join the newly-resigned Kassim Osgood in bolstering the receiving corps. It may take him a while to make the transition from Division I-AA, but he won't be expected to play too much next year with Caldwell coming back.

Sproles is at the opposite end of the perspective in terms of height, but could make an immediate impact on kick returns.

"We tried to shore up the return game," Smith offered. "We talked about that in unrestricted (free agency). We only had one targeted guy and that didn't work out. Darren Sproles, he's a terrific return man – kickoff returns and punt returns."

The New York Times ran a piece earlier in the week in the "Week in Review" section, of all places, outlining the most successful draft strategies of the last decade. Some call it the "Patriot Model," but it's based on the premise that Jimmy Johnson employed in trading Herschel Walker. You draft for a lot of lower picks since, according to Jimmy, the draft is like shrimp fishing. The big nets will get some trash, but some good ones as well.

Maybe Gump had a point: you do never know what you're gonna get.

The Bolts spread their picks around and hit all their targeted areas. The Organization's tepid endorsement of the secondary and their move to put more pressure on the quarterback is so widely known that Chris Berman was reciting it right before Merriman was picked.

But Quentin Jammer and Sammy Davis were both first-round picks. If they don't improve this year, we'll have many chances at replacing them in the draft because we'll be picking earlier than 28th.

But, I like what I'm seeing and hearing so far. The Bolts recognize that they can't take the next step (which is what they better be aiming for) with the #31st ranked pass defense. Let's give this improved pass rush plan one year. I'll lay off QJ and The Candyman for now. Of course that seems like a good idea.

It's April.

See you next week


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