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Best Charger Draft Picks By Round

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Loren Casuto
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1pttwt8_PXo/SNlho-oFYsI/AAAAAAAAAIs/cJklI0Qc3Mg/s320/fouts.jpg"><img title="Dan Fouts" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1pttwt8_PXo/SNlho-oFYsI/AAAAAAAAAIs/cJklI0Qc3Mg/s320/fouts.jpg" alt="" width="137" height="182" /></a></div>

    With the draft less than two weeks away, I thought it would be fun to look back at who were the Chargers' best draft picks of all time. In the past decade the Chargers have been more focused than ever on building through the draft. But throughout their history, the Chargers have found mixed success in the draft. The worst players by round will have to wait for another year. This year I'm focusing on the best selections by round. And because the first round is so important, I will break the first round into three parts.

    Best Charger Draft Picks by Round

    <strong>First Round (1-10)</strong> – Ladanian Tomlinson (2001)
    Others: Junior Seau (1992), Leslie O'Neal (1986), Philip Rivers (2004), Gary Johnson (1974)

    The Chargers have spent the majority of their first round picks within the top 10, you can draw your own conclusions on that. While there have been great successes here, there have also been numerous catastrophic failures. Junior Seau and Leslie O'Neal, both incredible successes, could be considered the best of this group. However Ladanian Tomlinson has become one of the best players of the decades and a guaranteed hall of famer who helped bring a franchise back to respectability. Even in another uniform, Ladanian Tomlinson will forever be thought of as a Charger and his drafting will be thought of as the moment a franchise began to regain its pride.

    <strong>First Round (11-20)</strong> Kellen Winslow (1979)
    Others: John Jefferson (1978), Anthony Miller (1988), Shawne Merriman (2005)

    Surprisingly the Chargers have not drafted much in the middle of the first round. There are less than half a dozen selections made by the Chargers in their history between #11-20. Of those, Kellen Winslow is by far the best of the bunch. While Jefferson is a fan favorite and Merriman has a chance to climb up the rankings, Winslow is a hall of famer and a man who altered his position forever. While there had been tight ends with outstanding pass catching ability (Mike Ditka), Kellen Winslow helped to change the position by showing what an athletic, fast tight end with great hands could do. He is the predecessor to guys like Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez and is the standard bearer that Antonio Gates will have to beat.

    <strong>First Round (21-32)</strong> Gill Byrd (1983)
    Others: James Brooks (1981)

    If the Chargers don't draft much in the middle of the first round, they draft even less in the latter part of the first round. There are very few late first round selections made by the Chargers and of them, they have a very limited success rate. There are only a few who have played much for the Chargers; the two mentioned, Chris Mims and Bob Rush. Gill Byrd was the most productive of those four and the best player at his position of the four. A long term stalwart in the Chargers backfield throughout the 1980s, Gill Byrd spent his entire ten years with the Chargers and routinely led the team in interceptions, even while playing all four defensive backfield position throughout his career.

    <strong>Second Round</strong> – Lance Alworth (AFL 1962)
    Others: Fred Dean (1975), Don Macek (1976), Vincent Jackson (2005), Louie Kelcher (1975)

    The Chargers have been very successful in the second round throughout their history. They've acquired everyone from players who were local stars for a short period of time (like Natrone Means and Drew Brees) to players with long, steady careers (like Courtney Hall), to supplemental stars (Jamal Williams) to young budding stars (Vincent Jackson) to Hall of Famers (Dean, Macek and Kelcher). But Lance Alworth was selected in the second round in 1962 and proceeded to become one of the greatest WRs in history. The man known as Bambi would personify the Gillman passing era and would make the incredible look routine time after time. And not only was Alworth coaxed to San Diego by Al Davis, but the draft pick to acquire him came in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.

    <strong>Third Round</strong> – Dan Fouts (1973)
    Others: Nick Hardwick (2004), Mike Fuller (1975), Andre Coleman (1993)

    Of all the rounds I researched, the Chargers have been the worst at drafting in the third round. The Chargers have had little success finding anyone of any worth in the third round; Nick Hardwick is #2 on the list by a wide margin, note the other two mentioned in the list of other noticeable players. But it would not matter who else was selected in the third round, Dan Fouts was the selection in 1973 after the Chargers selected WR Johnny Rodgers in the first round (who earned 240yds in his two year career). Fouts would re-write the record books and lead the Air Coryell era on his way to the Hall of Fame. He has routinely been hailed as one of the best quarterbacks in history and by a wide margin the best quarterback in Charger history. Not bad for a person who would not start until the late 1970s.

    <strong>Fourth Round</strong> – Darren Sproles (2005)
    Others: Dickie Post (1967), Raylee Johnson (1993)

    Perhaps I had spoken a little too soon about the worst round for the Chargers to draft in; if the best you can come up with is a scat back, a jittery running back and a solid defensive end, that's a pretty poor showing as well. While Post helped carry the load after the Lowe/Lincoln era and Johnson played effectively on some atrocious Charger teams, Darren Sproles has won a playoff game and become one of the most prolific and effective return men in Charger history. Even though his Charger career might be coming to an end, Darren Sproles has provided numerous memories for Charger fans and is always entertaining when he has the ball in his hands. For one of the shortest players in Charger history, he stands tall as the best pick in the fourth round.

    <strong>Fifth Round</strong> – Woodrow Lowe (1976)
    Others: Lionel James (1984), Mike Scifres (2003), Rodney Harrison (1994)

    While the third and fourth rounds have led to numerous poor selections, the Chargers have done surprisingly well in the fifth round with numerous big contributors selected here. The Little Train was one of the few highlights between the Air Coryell era and the arrival of Boss Ross and the predecessor to Darren Sproles. Mike Scifres is the second best punter in Chargers history (which is nothing to be ashamed of) and has helped secure numerous victories with his big leg. And the Hitman cut his teeth with the Chargers on his way to becoming one of the best safeties in the 90s, even though he was cut while still in his prime (damn you Marty Schottenheimer!). Woodrow Lowe was the durable and effective pass stopping linebackers throughout his ten year career; he stayed on throughout the Coryell era and beyond becoming a constant pain to offenses while other stars moved on or retired.

    <strong>Sixth Round</strong> – Gary Garrison (1965)
    Others: Pete Shaw (1977)

    Once teams get past the fifth round then it becomes very difficult for a player to make the team let alone make any impact with the team. There have been only two notable sixth rounders with the San Diego Chargers; one was a decent cornerback in the late 70s and one was a very good wide receiver in the time between the Sid Gillman era and the Air Coryell era. The man known as the Ghost became a steady constant producers for the Chargers while the Chargers struggled to find not only a quarterback but also an offensive plan that would work.

    <strong>Seventh Round and Beyond </strong>– Ernie Ladd (15th Round AFL 1961)
    Others: Chuck Allen (17th Round AFL 1961), Scott Mrzucowski (2005), Trent Green (1993), Marion Butts (1989)

    It's fair to say that no team has had great success drafting in the final rounds; whether the draft lasted seven rounds or seventeen rounds, players selected late have a hard time making a team let alone making an impact. All in all the Chargers list isn't horrible as it includes two AFL stars, one backup (albeit a good one), a two year wonder and a player who never succeeded as a Charger. Even through the 1980s and 1990s the draft went twelve to fifteen rounds, which might be a little much even for us present day draftnicks. It was surprising however that one of the best defensive tackles in the game and a hall of famer was a 15th round selection. Ladd joined with Earl Faison to become bulwarks on a talented and effective defensive line. Ladd was considered to be one of the best tackles to play the game and dominated opponents routinely on the inside.

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