Cutter's Remorse: Five Fallaways

GM A.J. Smith did an admirable job of building depth this offseason. However, that task would have been a lot less daunting had he been able to hold onto some of his previous draftees. Here's a look at five players who were allowed to escape before realizing their potential in San Diego.

Note: The following five players were drafted during A.J. Smith's tenure in San Diego (2001-present). None of them ever started a game for the Chargers.

RB Gartrell Johnson (2009 fourth-round pick)

Johnson showed well during the preseason, carrying 48 times for 184 yards (3.8 ypc), but was unable to survive to the regular season. He was released prior to the season-opener so that the Chargers could ink DL Andre Coleman to the active roster, a move that paid short-term dividends but came with a long-term cost. Now, the Chargers will let Marcus Mason and Curtis Brinkley jockey for the No. 3 running back position while Johnson competes for playing time with the New York Giants.

RB Gartrell Johnson during last season's training camp.
Shana Siler/
DE Dave Ball (2004 fifth-round pick)

Ball was a part of San Diego's legendary 2004 draft class. He was the team's sixth pick, following Philip Rivers, Igor Olshansky, Nate Kaeding, Nick Hardwick and Shaun Phillips. And although Ball did not become an impact player like those five, he is still in the league and has played in 36 games over the last three seasons. He has started four games over the last two seasons with the Tennessee Titans and would surely look good in San Diego's defensive line by committee.

Scott Chandler (2007 fourth-round pick)

San Diego added two tight ends this offseason: free agent Randy McMichael and seventh-round pick Dedrick Epps. Neither move would have been necessary had the team held onto Chandler. The towering tight end's time in San Diego was cut short by a toe injury and by the team's decision to go with three veteran TEs (Antonio Gates, Brandon Manumaleuna and Kris Wilson). But with Manumaleuna gone, the Bolts could have used a player like Chandler -- who is currently with the Dallas Cowboys -- to heighten to competition.

Brandon Gorin (2001 seventh-round pick)

Gorin was drafted while Smith was still San Diego's assistant general manager, which makes it all the more impressive that he's still in the league. He has played with five teams, most recently the 2009 Denver Broncos, and compiled 27 starts in 48 career games played. He won a pair of Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots, starting at right tackle in their Super Bowl XXXIX victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, San Diego's right tackle position remains a glaring question mark.

DeJuan Tribble (2008 sixth-round pick)

San Diego's cornerback situation can be summed up as follows: Quentin Jammer and a bunch of guys with something to prove. With so much to be determined by training camp competition, it's a shame Tribble is not around to add to the mix. The physical corner was a strong run defender and a weapon on special teams, but he was undone by a rotation that -- at the time -- included three former first-round picks.

Which former draftees would you like to see back in lightning bolts? Share your opinion inside our message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the 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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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