The Chargers' first-round pick has fallen in the top half of Round One four times since Smith arrived in San Diego (2001-2004). In three of those four years, the Chargers traded down.*
San Diego is slated to pick in the top half of Round One again this season and a trade-down appears likely for a number of reasons. Here's a look at a few of them:
--The Chargers don't have a second-round pick this year, having traded it away in last year's deal for Jacob Hester. Trading down could allow the Chargers to recoup that pick and possibly land an extra selection in 2010, depending on how far they move down.*- The analysis of San Diego's past draft trends does not count the No. 12 overall pick in the 2005 draft, which the Chargers acquired from the New York Giants in a trade-down the previous year. There was no need to trade down from the No. 12 spot, since the team already had two first-round picks that year.
--San Diego appears likely to just miss out on the top tier of tackles at No. 16. Baylor's Jason Smith, Virginia's Eugene Monroe, Alabama's Andre Smith and Ole Miss' Michael Oher are all likely to be off the board. If one of them slips, the Chargers will likely pull the trigger, but that appears to be a long-shot.
--The board doesn't look any better on the defensive side of the line. The only two linemen who would provide good value at No. 16 -- Boston College NT B.J. Raji and LSU DE Tyson Jackson -- could very well be selected before San Diego goes on the clock. Raji will definitely be gone; Jackson is a 50-50 proposition.
--The draft is deep at running back, eliminating the need to pick one at No. 16. The Chargers could move to the bottom of Round One and land Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy or Connecticut's Donald Brown. They could also wait until Round Three for someone like Iowa's Shonn Green or Liberty's Rashad Jennings. A.J. Smith believes there are several "championship caliber" running backs in this year's draft.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.