"I'm excited about what we were able to get done," coach Norv Turner said. "We have brought in guys who will compete for starting jobs or they'll compete for spots in certain packages and situations. We had a pretty good handle on what we needed at each spot, and we found players to fit those needs."
But only because general manager A. J. Smith was peddling picks and players like a guy hawking watches on a Manhattan street corner.
Smith has proved he's not shy about pulling the trigger on draft-day deals. His most famous maneuver was when he shipped Eli Manning to the Giants in a trade which eventually netted a package which included Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman, and Nate Kaeding.
So when Smith didn't anticipate Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews lasting until the team's first pick at No. 28, he reached an agreement with Miami to move up.
When he later saw his shots at snagging inside linebacker Donald Butler of Washington and defensive tackle Cam Thomas of North Carolina slipping, Smith started working the phone again.
The result was he got both his men -- at a price. But the team couldn't be happier.
"Defensive tackle and strong safety were areas where we thought we need some depth," said Jimmy Raye, the team's director of player personnel. "We felt like we had some good players already, but the goal was to create competition at those spots. Adding (Stuckey and Thomas) will only help this team in the long run."
But only because of Smith's long reach, in that he was able to reach out and find trade partners.
"We could've just sat there thinking a valuable player would be available, but we decided to be aggressive and go out and get our guys," Smith said. "We wanted to fill specific needs with players that we wanted."
Despite coming off their fourth straight AFC West title, the Chargers had more holes than in years' past. And while no draft goes exactly has planned, the Chargers were grinning with what they were able to pull off.
It will be up to the players to prove they were the right picks at the right time. But by the Chargers being so eager to move around the board to get many of the players they targeted, it proved the time for the Chargers to win is now.
While those AFC West titles are swell, the team knows it must be aggressive to get through its playoff malaise which has seen it lose three of its last four postseason games.
However this season unfolds, how well the Chargers did with their draft-day dealings will likely help determine their 2010 fate.
While everyone eyes any team's top draft picks, might the Chargers get as much bang for their bucks with their lower selections?
Running back Ryan Mathews was the squad's marquee draft-day snag as the offense desperately tries to rebuild its morbid running attack. Mathew didn't come cheaply, as the Miami extracted an impressive bounty in allowing the Chargers to move up in the draft and select Mathews at No. 12 overall.
But it was Day 3 of the three-day extravaganza where possibly the Chargers made their biggest moves.
While the draft was wrapping up the Chargers were ramping up to take care of two needs at strong safety and defensive tackle.
Kansas' safety Darrell Stuckey was plucked off the board and will be quickly pointed toward the field.
While Kevin Ellison, a sixth-round pick out of USC the previous year, ended the year as the starter there is no guarantee he will remain there. Ellison had taken off for Clinton Hart and his results were mixed.
"Stuckey is a very active player," coach Norv Turner said. "He is an outstanding tackler and he runs extremely well. He'll give us a good mix and he's a good cover guy."
While Stuckey saw action of both safety positions, it's believed the Chargers will first try him at the strong spot. The fourth-round pick left Kansas with 295 tackles, including 11 for losses. The two-time All-Big 12 selection isn't shy about supplying run support.
That run defense likely got another boost when the Chargers drafted defensive tackle Cam Thomas, as general manager A. J. Smith swung another deal to leap 13 positions to get him. Thomas, out of North Carolina, was the massive body the Chargers were seeking after losing three-time Pro Bowler Jamal Williams to Denver in free agency.
"What we tried to do the second and third day is go right down the middle with a nose man, strong safety and inside linebacker," said Turner, with Donald Butler filling the need at linebacker.
Many thought the Chargers might reach for an interior defensive lineman well before the fifth round. But their sights were set on Mathews at the onset, and then the other shortcomings were to be addressed when value and need arrived at the same intersection.
Right up the gut is where Stuckey and Thomas will make their marks. And just because they didn't arrive on the draft's first day doesn't discount their worth.
"Because of the depth of this draft I knew good players would be available later on," Smith said. "It unfolded the way we wanted, but at times we had to be active to ensure that happened."
--The Chargers added 20 undrafted free agents, hoping to find a gem like they have before. Remember that Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates and Pro Bowl left guard Kris Dielman arrived at Chargers Park in just that fashion. "If you look at our history, we have a great track record bringing in undrafted free agents every year who are making the team," said John Spanos, the team's director of college scouting. "This was a deep draft, and there are a lot of good players left."
--QB Jonathan Crompton, the team's fifth-round pick, wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. That's despite have a pretty impressive season in throwing for 2,800 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. With Charlie Whitehurst being moved to Seattle, Crompton should assume the No. 3 role behind Philip Rivers and Billy Volek.
--OLB Shaun Phillips, who had a critical personal foul in the playoff loss to the Jets -- then ducked out the door after the game to avoid the media -- got upset that some haven't gotten over his bone-head play. When on a San Diego radio station plug a charity event, Phillips became agitated when asked for an explanation for his playoff meltdown. "People want to look at one play, but there were a lot of things that went into that loss," Phillips said. "People forget that there were way more plays that we made to get us to that point and to record 13 wins. But if someone thinks they could do better, they should try out for the team. If not, they should shut their mouth."
--Chargers scout Travis Lash was promoted to assistant player personnel director.
--When the Chargers open their regular season against the Chiefs on "Monday Night Football" it will mark the fifth time they have christened a year on national TV. The Chargers are 4-0 in the previous contests.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Character is always part of what we're doing. There are a lot of guys who don't make it to our draft board because of character issues." -- Coach Norv Turner on how closely the Chargers monitor prospects' off-the-field behavior.
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