Does Chargers' A.J. Smith Have What It Takes To Have An Impact Draft?

By Shane Anderson

In the past five drafts the San Diego Chargers have selected a total of 34 players.  Of those 34 players how many of those are legitimate starters today in the NFL?  A grand total of…five.  That’s an average of one starter drafted every year.  Concerns have been raised more and more frequently in recent years about the deterioration of talent from the roster.  How is a team supposed to continue having success adding one starter a year through the draft?  The answer is simple, it can’t.  With the core of talent for the Bolts getting older each year, the talent is simply not coming in as quickly as it is departing.

A.J. Smith took over for the Chargers in 2003, and had two very successful drafts in ’04 and ’05 which gave him the reputation as a “draft guru”.  In those drafts he drafted Eli Manning (traded for franchise qb Philip Rivers), Igor Olshansky, Nate Kaeding, Nick Hardwick, Shaun Phillips, Michael Turner, Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, and Darren Sproles.  That’s 10 players who have all had successful careers thus far as starters in the league.  Out of those two draft classes, 18 players drafted, how many legitimate starters?  TEN!  These players have been more than instrumental in comprising the Chargers roster over the past several years.  The following five years have left much to be desired indeed.

A.J. Smith deserved all the credit in the world for having hugely successful drafts in back to back years.  Since then however, he has been below average at selecting talent to fill an elite NFL roster.  While many want to place all the blame on Norv Turner, don’t let A.J. Smith off the hook so easily, he has just as much to do with the Chargers recent downfall as anyone.  In tomorrow’s draft A.J. will have to more than likely revert to his younger years and have an impact draft class if he wants to stick around much longer.

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