San Diego's Success Stems from 2004 Draft

The Chargers' depth and talent took a giant leap forward in the 2004 NFL draft. Six of those draft picks are still with the team and three have played in at least one Pro Bowl. As one of the most legendary draft years for the Bolts due to the famous Rivers-Manning swap, the year marked smart selections that have shaped the franchise.

The Bolts earned the No. 1 pick overall after finishing 4-12 the previous season and marked a move that still has mouths wagging- the famous Manning-Rivers trade. The Bolts selected QB Eli Manning wholly aware that the New York Giants were bursting to call Manning their own. While Manning appeared discontent with the selection, the Bolts had other plans in mind.

Less than an hour after the Bolts took Manning, the Giants drafted QB Philip Rivers of North Carolina State. After much negotiation, the two teams reached a deal that resulted in swapping the quarterbacks, as well as the Bolts receiving the Giants' third-round pick in 2004 and their first- and fifth-round picks in 2005. The trade has shaped both teams substantially.

Rivers has become the face of the Chargers franchise, earning a 25-7 mark in his two seasons as a starter. Manning, on the other hand, endured sharp criticism for years before busting through last season and leading his team to a Super Bowl upset over the New England Patriots.

DE Igor Olshansky
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The Bolts grabbed DE Igor Olshansky of Oregon in round two. Olshansky has been a starter for the past four years; in three of these years, the Bolts have ranked in the League's top seven in rushing defense.

An elite defensive end named to USA Today's All-Joe Team last season, Olshansky finished with a career-high in tackles (69) and sacks (3.5), as well as stealing the first interception of his career.

Nate Kaeding of Iowa was drafted in the third round with a pick acquired from the Giants. Kaeding proved to be one of the most steady and reliable kickers in the League. Last season, Kaeding recorded a 24-of-27 success rate on field goals, fifth-best in the NFL.

The Bolts' next draft picked was given to C Nick Hardwick of Purdue in round three. Hardwick has established himself as a key component along the offensive front. A starter from the get-go, Hardwick has helped the Bolts to record at least 2,000 rushing yards each season since his arrival.

Last season, Hardwick earned All-NFL honors from USA Today Sports Weekly and was named to USA Today's All-Joe Team. He was also selected as a second-alternate for the AFC Pro Bowl squad.

Hardwick's time on the field was limited due to a foot injury suffered in Week 6 last season, which he recently underwent surgery to repair. While he is not expected to be fully recovered by the beginning of the season, the Bolts anticipate using his brute strength and fierce force on the field at some point during the first half of the season.

OLB Shaun Phillips
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The Bolts hit Purdue once again and snagged LB Shaun Phillips in the fourth round. Phillips has become an astounding pass-rusher and finished last season registering 8.5 sacks. He has 20 sacks in his two years as a starter and 31 in his four-year career. With an explosive first step, he was named to USA Today's All-Joe Team.

Phillips has found his right-hand man in Shawne Merriman, as the two prove a dynamite combo on the field. In 2006, the two players became the Bolts' first pair to record at least 11 sacks each in the same season since 1994. The Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens were the only two teams in the league to have two players register those numbers that season.

The Chargers kicked off round five by picking Dave Ball (no. 1) of UCLA. In the latter half of the 2004 season, Ball's name stuck to the injured-reserve list and he was released by the Bolts in November 2005.

Ball spent time with the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers, and now resides with the Tennessee Titans. Interestingly, he was signed by the Titans this past January prior to the Bolts-Titans playoff game, although he didn't see action in that contest.

The Bolts grabbed Michael Turner of Northern Illinois later on in round five with a pick acquired from the Miami Dolphins in the trade for Junior Seau. Turner proved be an excellent backup to Tomlinson and confirmed his worth this past season when L.T. was sidelined in the playoffs. Turner recorded 164 rushing yards during the Bolts' three postseason games, more than half of his regular-season total (316).

Often recognized at the league's best backup running back, Turner moved out from the shadows and signed with the Atlantic Falcons in January in an attempt to find his name in the starting lineup.

TE Ryan Krause of Nebraska-Omaha was picked by the Bolts in the sixth round. After failing to see any field action, Krause was released in the off-season of 2007 following his arrest for a DUI. He found a home with the Houston Texans, where he contributed during the latter half of last season.

Next, the Chargers picked up DT Ryon Bingham of Nebraska in round seven. Season after season, Bingham only improves and seems to have found his niche on the field. After Jamal Williams was sidelined with an elbow injury last season, Bingham stepped with an impacting force. Proving he was a go-to guy in the defensive line, he also saw field time working in rotations for Luis Castillo and Jacques Cesaire.

Finishing last season with 58 tackles, Bingham played in every game and marked two starts. In December, the Bolts signed Bingham to a three-year extension.

OT Shane Olivea of Ohio State was the next to be drafted by the Bolts in the seventh round. Making a solid impact, Olivea earned a starting role and started in 31 of 32 games during his first two seasons with the Bolts. Last season, Olivea got ousted from the starting lineup by Jeromey Clary and was released in February. He remains a free agent.

For their last pick in the draft, the Bolts opted for OT Carlos Joseph of Miami. Joseph failed to make it off the practice squad in two tries with the season. After spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and NFL Europe, Joseph spent a season playing for the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League.

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