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Any draft is a good one for A.J. Smith

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Unless it was during their lunch break, the local football census takers didn’t spend much time this weekend watching Preposterous Phil Mickelson and the rest of the world’s greatest golfers literally poking and prodding stubborn Augusta National. Instead, they were bunkered in the basement of Rancho Charger, figuratively poking and prodding the National Register of the best collegiate players.
    The Draft, you know. It’s coming up, making its prime time debut April 22. And it is the most eagerly anticipated, emotional and dissected non-sporting sporting event in the world.
    These are the high holy days for the draftniks, football’s Sherlockians, who often try to use their tools — stopwatch, measuring tape and scale — to wrench fact from fiction. Or is it the other way around?
    Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith last Thursday called in all his football men for a draft summit at the Rancho, where they will be holed up through most of this week. Smith will listen to suggestions from his scouts and coaches — plus himself — who have examined and investigated the athletes, and then the Tuesday before the first round will put together his Big Board.
    Smith calls it “readings,” and it is, without question, the most exciting time for the people who grade players. Once games begin, all these guys can do is sit back and see if they were right. They do not coach. They observe.
    This is a draft lake that, on its surface, doesn’t seem to be stocked with many future Hall of Fame players. But the lottery’s cognoscenti are calling it the deepest in years, with schools of talent at several positions.
    Smith is the Will Rogers of scouts, having never seen a draft he didn’t like — and if you know the GM even a bit, then you realize there are many things he doesn’t like.
    “There’s always immediate help — every draft is a good draft,” Smith says.
    Getting anything out of Smith usually is tough enough, but this is April, when liar’s poker is the game of choice for NFL general managers (for some, it always is). Smith admits he lies like a sleeping dog this time of year.
    San Diego’s GM is a risk-taker, and it hasn’t always worked on draft day, although next to one of his predecessors, Bobby Beathard, he’s a Draft Tea Party conservative. He has missed on some top picks, such as Sammy Davis, but it’s hard to find a GM who hasn’t whiffed.
    “If our percentage is high, we’re doing a good job,” Smith says.
    He is. I’ve read Pro Football Weekly’s extensive, five-year (2004-2008) study analyzing drafting proficiency, which finds Smith, the Giants’ Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese, and the Colts’ Bill Polian as the only GMs ranked in the top 10 in percentage of on-roster players, starters and Pro Bowlers during that period.
    The Chargers, in fact, were the only club ranked in the top four in each category, and they top the list in percentage of players drafted between 2004 and 2008 who have made the Pro Bowl once in the past two seasons. The League average is 5.6 percent. Top-rated San Diego is first, at 18.4 percent, the Jets second (13.2).
    So, while I realize many of you out there believe Smith doesn’t know what he’s doing, compare him to his peers. He has the 28th and 40th choices at the top of this draft. He probably will surprise some people.
    “I don’t know if I’m more unpredictable than most, but I try to stay unpredictable,” he says. “Guys in the other buildings probably don’t know what you’re doing, and if you can create that mindset, it’s good.
    “There is activity. Our running back situation has created a lot of activity (dialogue with other clubs). I’m not telling you what that activity is.”
    Surprise. There’s one way to avoid a lie.
    Smith will listen to offers up to a few minutes before he makes a pick and then shut it down. “I like to gather ammunition,” he says. “We have three 3s in 2011, and one of those could be a 2 (for Antonio Cromartie). That’s ammunition. You have to be a player; you have to be active.”
    The Chargers need a running back, for certain, and they will draft one, two or maybe three. They need a nose tackle, which could be the No. 1 priority this time, because this draft has many backs.
    “Everyone’s targeting our draft for running backs — and that’s valid,” Smith says. “There’s other activity, but we need a running back who coach (Norv) Turner will make his first running back.”
    Now that he’s traded No. 3 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to Seattle (a steal), Smith will draft a quarterback, somewhere. He also has tendered offers to four of his best players — left tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman, and receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd.
    “Our intentions are for those players to return,” he says. “But this is an unusual (uncapped) year. We’re in uncharted waters.
    “Just remember, the best team, with the best players, is the Saints. They won the Super Bowl, that’s all that matters. Everyone else isn’t good enough. We aren’t good enough.”
    That’s why they have drafts.
  2. Boltzlover

    Boltzlover BoltTalker

    Dec 26, 2009
    But, but . . . everyone knows AJ is terrible at drafting. I mean, everyone knows that any random forum member could do a better job . . . Right?? :abq1::abq2::lol:
  3. Rainman

    Rainman BoltTalker

    Sep 4, 2006
    At a recent Chargers' press conference, General Manager A.J. Smith instructs the UT's Nick Canepa to "Sit on it!"
  4. TheLash

    TheLash Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2006
    Smith is the Will Rogers of scouts, having never seen a draft he didn’t like — and if you know the GM even a bit, then you realize there are many things he doesn’t like.

    Love it!:lol:

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