The San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are the only NFL teams to have at least an 8-8 record every season from 2004-2011. This is a positive for San Diego, but New England has three Super Bowl appearances and a title while Pittsburgh has three Super Bowl appearances and two titles. The Chargers have zero appearances during this time frame. Eight consecutive seasons without a losing record is great, but it also hurts the Chargers.
San Diego acquired the 12th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft from the New York Giants and chose Shawne Merriman. The Chargers also chose Luis Castillo with the 28th overall pick that year. San Diego had the 19th, 30th, 27th, 16th, 12th and 18th picks from 2006-2011. San Diego chose Antonio Cromartie with the 19th pick in 2006 and packaged draft picks to the Miami Dolphins in order to select Ryan Mathews with the 12th pick two years ago. Merriman was a three time Pro Bowler during his time with the Chargers and an All-Pro linebacker in 2006 when he led the NFL in sacks. Castillo had seven sacks in 10 games during the 2006 season, but combined for 8.5 sacks from 2007-2011 and missed 30 games from 2006-2011. Cromartie was an All-Pro in 2007 and led the NFL with 10 interceptions. Merriman was put on waivers in 2010 due to injuries and Cromartie was traded to the New York Jets for a third round pick before the 2010 NFL Draft.
It is not impossible to have success with mostly mid to late first round picks. However, this makes free agent acquisitions more important to San Diego than they are to some teams like the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders who are back on the rise with early draft picks after years of futility. Hopefully San Diego will be able to keep their streak alive while joining New England and Pittsburgh as the only teams with a Super Bowl appearance and a title without a losing record since the 2004 season.