Chargers Draft Preview

The draft is fast approaching and the Chargers' targets are coming into focus. What position will San Diego target in round one? Will A.J. Smith trade down to accumulate more draft picks? Here is how things stack up with the draft less than two months away...

DRAFT BREAKDOWN -- We think they should pick...

Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska

The Chargers have revamped their team by doing well in the draft. But this spring's exercise will have a different feel for the Chargers.

As of now, the Chargers have but one pick on the first day of the two-day draft. They have the 27th overall selection, then don't select again until the fifth round. They have single picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.

The Chargers hope to pick up a third-round compensatory pick for the loss of linebacker Donnie Edwards to the Chiefs last year.

The thin stack of picks came about because they gave the Dolphins their second-round pick for wide receiver Chris Chambers. And last April, the Chargers peddled the third-round selection in a package to move up and get safety Eric Weddle. Their fourth-round pick was used earlier when they got cornerback Paul Oliver in the supplemental draft.

How the Chargers have attacked the offseason could alter their draft.

With stellar backup Michael Turner leaving as a free agent to the Falcons, the Chargers are thin at running back. That could have them looking for a running back to not only play behind LaDainian Tomlinson but possibly groom as his successor.

But they also let go of Shane Olivea, who was a starter until losing his spot last year to Jeromey Clary. The Chargers were upbeat in how Clary played, but that's not to say they wouldn't look for a possible upgrade in the draft.

General manager A.J. Smith did say the team wouldn't look to add a punter, kicker or tight end in the draft. Otherwise, Smith can basically take the best player available as it's not essential that he fills frontline needs.

Smith could also add to his number of draft picks via trade. After he pulled off the blockbuster draft-day trade of 2004 that sent Eli Manning to the Giants and Philip Rivers to the Chargers, it's obvious he's not shy about making a big deal.


1. Running back: Hard saying that with LaDainian Tomlinson on the roster, but it's awfully thin behind him. RB Darren Sproles is currently No. 2, but he's more of a specialized back and makes his mark as a returner. Fullback Andrew Pinnock could carry some of the load, especially with coach Norv Turner's system minimizing the impact and playing time a fullback has.

2. Tackle: Smith said this draft is deep in tackles, and the Chargers could snag one of the top prospects. They have a two-time Pro Bowler in left tackle Marcus McNeill, but his play fell off from his rookie year. And Shane Olivea, who was supposed to be the long-term answer at right tackle, lost his starting job last year and is now off the team.

3. Defensive tackle: Jamal Williams is a Pro Bowl player, but age is starting show here. After 10 years, he was headed to surgeries to repair both knees in the offseason. While he has another couple of years left, his durability is starting to become a concern.


If the Chargers can snag Nicks out of Nebraska with their first-round pick, it does two things.

It likely gives them an immediate upgrade over Jeromey Clary at right tackle. Plus, Nicks can play inside too; Mike Goff's tires are starting to show some wear and tear.

But the Chargers could go another direction considering how few draft picks they have. They expect to get a compensatory pick for losing Donnie Edwards, but if they don't, they would go from the first round to not having another pick until the fifth.

We can see Smith doing business with that first pick -- the 27th overall. Smith could be tempted to trade from that spot -- with Miami or some other rebuilding team -- and gather more picks toward the end of the draft. Smith is a firm believer there are plenty of good players not drafted on the first day and he is always bent on proving it.

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