Smith's early drafts limited Turner's chances A.J. Smith, former Chargers general manager, ran the draft room during Norv Turner's six seasons as head coach. It was a slow beginning. The first three drafts produced one Pro Bowler in Eric Weddle. The previous three years produced 11. The draft drop-off mixed poorly with the loss of productive players via free agency. While the roster talent waned, injuries exposed its decreasing depth, together helping explain the downward trend in results that leave both men unemployed today. 2007: D Buster Davis missed 23 of 48 career games to injury with only two starts. That's one fewer start than the draft's other Buster Davis, a third-round linebacker from Florida State. Weddle, a player of perennial All-Pro caliber, saves this draft from failure, but to land him, the Chargers shipped picks in the second, third, third and fifth rounds. Imagine if Smith took him Round 1 instead. Anthony Waters was released after a year, Legedu Naanee was a better athlete than a receiver, and Scott Chandler became the red-zone threat the Chargers projected. The problem was it happened in Buffalo. Paul Oliver gave a solid enough return for a fourth rounder. 2008: D- Antoine Cason hasn't miss a game in five years and, after mistakes, proves himself correctable. He has, however, yet to make that leap into the top tier of NFL cornerbacks. Jacob Hester, a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect with special character, would be a fine get for the middle rounds. The Chargers paid a small fortune for the third-round choice, trading a fifth- and future second-round pick to New England. The Chargers had no second-round pick after trading for wide receiver Chris Chambers in 2007. They got zero contribution from the draft's back end. 2009: D+ No star power here. Larry English, even when healthy, struggled to emerge, working in the back end of the team's rotation of outside linebackers. Louis Vasquez, the best pick in the class, just had his finest season in his contract year. The versatile Tyronne Green might've had a better debut as a full-time starter in 2012 if the left tackle spot next to him wasn't such a complete carousel. Vaughn Martin progressed over 48 games and 27 starts as a developmental prospect and, while yet to become a dominant force, has returned the Chargers' mid-round investment. Something in this draft is missing. Oh, that second-round pick. 2010: B Smith traded up three times in the draft, landing Ryan Mathews, Donald Butler and Cam Thomas. Butler? Future team captain. Cog to the linebacker corps. Thomas? Athletic. Offers interior pass rush. Then, there is Mathews. It remains to be seen if he'll ever become the three-down back Smith envisioned when making the move to vault 16 spots in the first round. The Chargers lost their first-, second- and fourth-round picks and linebacker Tim Dobbins for the No. 12 pick, a fourth-rounder and a sixth-round pick. Smith turned the fourth-rounder into Darrell Stuckey, special teams captain and the team's best gunner since Pro Bowler Kassim Osgood. But in a year of special teams blunders, Dobbins was missed after Butler's torn Achilles' before the season. 2011: B We've reached the stage where it's too early in draft class development to offer a grade in good confidence. But Corey Liuget made a dramatic leap in his first full offseason, improving his hands to shed blocks more effectively. Between that, his burst and knack for tipping passes at the line of scrimmage, Liuget appears to have a Pro Bowl trajectory. Little has been seen of Vincent Brown, but from what he's shown, he looks like a player. His health is key. Jonas Mouton, at his current rate, would be filed among Smith's greatest swing-and-misses, but again, it's early. We'll have a better idea where Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright are in a year, but both have shown improvement. Andrew Gachkar is every bit the special teams contributor the Chargers expected. 2012: B+ There is a building optimism within the organization about the career outlook of rookies Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes. Their athleticism stood out the first day of rookie minicamp, and both have come a long way since, playing their best football toward the end of the season. San Diego desperately needed to add pass rushers to its roster, especially with the expiring contract of Shaun Phillips, prompting this high grade. That said, we still know very little of this draft class. Brandon Taylor looks to recover from a torn ACL. Johnnie Troutman's rookie year was largely a wash because of a torn pectoral muscle before the draft. He could compete for a starting spot, perhaps at left guard, in 2013. Ladarius Green will add bulk this offseason to his frame. He's a natural receiver and could be dramatically improved come training camp. Edwin Baker is a very young player who impressed on the practice squad, and David Molk, a throwback lineman and perhaps center Nick Hardwick's successor, played more snaps at guard and tight end as a rookie than he did at center.