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Draft Grades: San Diego Chargers

A.J. Smith and Norv Turner’s jobs are on the line, so this was a critical draft for the San Diego Chargers. Entering the draft, there were rumors about the Chargers trading up, which made sense if Smith and Turner felt they needed to land an impact player to help save their jobs. But they stayed put on draft day, and it payed off.

It was difficult to imagine a scenario in which Melvin Ingram fell the Chargers, but when he did their front office wasted no time snatching him up. Ingram may not technically be a starter in 2012, with Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson favored to occupy that role, but he will make a significant impact. He played a hybrid end/linebacker role in South Carolina, so he should be able to make a smooth transition in San Diego.

Kendall Reyes had value in the 2nd round, so I can’t argue with the selection too much. However, it’s tough to see how he fits into their immediate plans. He’ll compete with Vaughn Martin and Luis Castillo for playing time. It’s also possible that he is used as a part of a rotation, coming into the game in passing situations with Martin playing on the majority of run downs.

Brandon Taylor was a reach in the 3rd round, but there was such little depth in this year’s class of safeties that the Chargers likely felt the need to go off the board to fill a need. He may be given an opportunity to compete with Atari Bigby for the starting job at strong safety.

I love the selection of Lararius Green. He’s very raw, but has the potential to be an elite pass-catching tight end. He is now the heir apparent to Antonio Gates at tight end, but could be used in some two tight end sets this upcoming season. He’s a matchup nightmare, and has the potential to be a steal in the 4th round.

Johnnie Troutman was a reach in the 5th round and, on top of that, he is expected to miss the entire 2012 season due to injury. Unless a player has elite upside, which Troutman does not, it’s best to stay away from injured players in the draft.

David Molk fell much further than I expected. He’s a smart, physical interior lineman who could be given an opportunity to take over for Nick Hardwick in a year or two.

Edwin Baker also fell on draft day. The Chargers have limited depth behind Ryan Matthews, which should allow Baker to earn a roster spot.

Overall, the Chargers drafted a nice mix of players who can help immediately and can be groomed for the future. It’s a well-balanced class which should help save the jobs of A.J. Smith and Norv Turner.

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Updated: May 1, 2012 — 4:39 pm
  • John K

    You give AJ Smith an A- for the draft of 2012? Let’s review:

    Melvin Ingram-Although a talent that will make an immediate impact for the team, he FELL to the Chargers. It didnt take a genius (as AJ portrays himself to be, to select him. Not genius!

    Kendall Reyes-No jaw-dropping skills. Reyes will have a tough time getting into the backfield to disrupt or rush the passer at the next level. Dont the Chargers need rushers?

    Brandon Taylor – A reach in the 3rd round, but AJ got caught with his pants down from not filling this position last year, although there have been many better than average FA Safeties available. Had to take him, the 4th or 5th best S in the draft. In a pass happy league, Taylor has trouble covering receivers. Peyton Manning will be played more often, now.

    LaDarius Green- A project at the position. Doesnt get off the line easily and telegraphs his routes. Lots of negatives to his play.

    Johnnie Troutman-A WASTED pick who will not be ready to play for two years from now in 2013, and then will STILL be a rookie! Will Rivers still be upright by then? A healthy OG from any High School would be a better pick than someone that cant play for a year. The genius of AJ.

    David Molk-Becasue he is only 6′ tall, he must pull his man down to keep him out of the play. Look for the Chargers to take alot of holding penalties. He easily becomes off-balance. Thats all they need….

    Edwin Baker- AJ hoping to find another Sproules so he can erase the stupid mistakes he made with him. Baker is exciting, but we will see if he can hold up physically in the NFL. A question mark.

    So THERE is your grade A-. Dont look so good now, huh? Let’s be realistic and stop drinking the AJ Smith Kool-aid. It was a C- draft for the Chargers.

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