How the Chargers have done in the draft since 2005:
Total picks: 21
07 Starters: 4
'07 Backups: 10
Other teams: 2
Out of NFL: 5
Injured Reserve/PUP: 0
The draft is on the horizon and few other things put smiles on the faces of Chargers backers as easily as watching the team's work in late April.
The reason the Chargers have gone from dregs to among the NFL's elite teams is their work in the draft. General manager A. J. Smith has done a stellar job of working his way through the past three drafts to flip the once woeful Chargers.
The Chargers really altered their fortunes with their blockbuster 2004 draft, which ultimately produced Pro Bowlers in quarterback Philip Rivers, linebacker Shawne Merriman, kicker Nate Kaeding and left tackle Roman Oben.
But Smith has been just as keen since. He got Merriman with a pick in 2005 from that Giants trade, and snagged two starters in defensive end Luis Castillo and wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Versatile running back Darren Sproles also came from that class.
Best pick: OLB Shawne Merriman, 2005 (first round, 12th overall): Merriman has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons. Among the few NFL defenders who can change a game by his play alone.
Worst pick: K Kurt Smith, 2006 (sixth round, 188th overall): This pick was a head-scratcher as the Chargers already had a Pro Bowler on the roster in Nate Kaeding. But the Chargers were loaded and didn't need much in that draft, so they were basically playing with house money and took a flier on Smith -- he didn't stick.
2007 DRAFT PICKS
1 (30) Craig Davis, WR: Had trouble staying on the field early with injuries and then was pushed aside a bit when the team acquired Chris Chambers. But the team remains high on him although his consistency is a concern. He had 20 catches for 188 yards and a score.
2 (37) Eric Weddle, S: No Chargers rookie was better and showed more promise than Weddle. He started the year in the dime package and by the end of the year was pushing starter Marlon McCree for reps in the base defense. Will probably be a starter next year with McCree leaving.
3 (96) Anthony Waters, LB: He supplies depth behind two relatively two young starters in Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper. But he may his progress slowed with the addition of Derek Smith.
4 (129) Scott Chandler, TE: Tough to get playing team on a roster with Antonio Gates and Brandon Manumaleuna. But if Gates is slow to recover from his offseason surgery, Chandler could see the field more.
5 (172) Legedu Naanee, WR: The team loves his upside; coach Norv Turner loves his versatility. He's among the most athletic players on an athletic roster. He gained the coaches' confidence as the season wore on and was inserted into action at critical junctures.
7 (240) Brandon Siler, ILB: Much like Waters, the team likes him for depth and his special teams play. But he could be hurt, too, with Derek Smith coming aboard.
4 (28) Paul Oliver, CB: Didn't see the field after being selected in the supplemental draft. Might get a boost with Drayton Florence likely leaving. The Chargers will need, if nothing else, a nickel back.
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