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Chargers believe 16 can be sweet

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Friday, Feb 20, 2009
    By Casey Pearce, Chargers.com

    A product of the whacky season the Chargers survived in 2008 is the unusually high draft position they find themselves in as the draft approaches.

    Teams who played in the Divisional Round of the playoffs generally find themselves selecting later in the first round, but an 8-8 regular season record has the Chargers picking 16th. It’s a position that excites Director of Player Personnel Jimmy Raye and the Chargers’ scouting staff.

    “It’s amazing how it fell for us that we could win the division, get in the playoffs, win a playoff game and still get the 16th pick,” Raye said. “To just be a few pieces away and be able to go pick a guy who you think can come in and help you right away and be an impact guy, it’s huge.”

    Teams picking in the middle of the first round last year found several early contributors. The Arizona Cardinals used the 16th pick in last April’s draft on cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, who won a starting job and recorded four interceptions for the eventual NFC Champions.

    Kansas City’s Brandon Albert (15th in 2008), Detroit’s Gosder Cherilus (17th), Joe Flacco of the Ravens (18th) and Carolina tackle Jeff Otah (19th) also quickly became fixtures in their respective starting lineups.

    “When you pick in that range, you feel like you’re not going to have to a wait a year or two to let him develop into something,” Raye said. “There’s development for all guys, but we think we can get a starter out of the 16th pick, someone who can help right away.”

    The 16th pick is the highest selection held by the Chargers since they took linebacker Shawne Merriman 12th overall in 2005. The last two years, they’re first draft picks have come at the 27th and 30th picks, respectively.

    The draft preparation process isn’t any different for the Chargers this year, but come late April, they will have a better idea of who will be available when San Diego goes on the clock.

    “When you’re picking at the bottom of the rounds, you’re waiting so long for a guy to fall to you, you’re hoping he is still there,” Raye said. “Now you can more or less target a few guys and go at it that way. You can tighten that cluster a little bit more at 16 than you can 30.”

    This weekend, the Chargers’ personnel staff is gathered at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to study potential candidates for each of their picks. San Diego currently holds selections in the first round and rounds three through seven. They’re hoping to receive compensatory picks for Michael Turner and Drayton Florence, who left San Diego last spring via free agency. Those picks could end up giving the Chargers additional selections in the third and fourth rounds.

    At the Combine, players will be measured in tests such as the 40-yard dash, the vertical and horizontal jumps and shuttle run. The Chargers staff begins their draft preparations in May for the next year’s selection process and they use their time in Indianapolis for confirmation more than revelation.

    “You want to take what you’ve seen on (game) tape and leave that as your evaluation instead of coming to the Combine and changing your opinion of a guy based off a 40 time,” Raye said. “I think the more you start doing that, the better chance you’re going to miss on guys. There are players in the league now that didn’t run the best 40 but they’re some of the best players in the league. Some people get caught up in that stuff, but we try not to.”

    Each team’s medical staff attends the Combine as well, and Raye said that the most useful information personnel people receive in Indianapolis deals with the full medical evaluations. Teams also get to interview individual players, but the consensus among scouts is that those sessions have become so rehearsed that the information isn’t as helpful as it could be.

    “You’ve got to give the agents and their handlers credit because these guys are so prepared,” Raye said. “Some guys can come off a little less rehearsed than other guys if they have the personality to carry it out, but some guys you can tell (have been prepared).

    “We had a player (Thursday night), once we asked one question, he answered the next four questions that would have come off that question. He knew what was coming. He was kind of joking, but it was funny.”

    Raye believes this year’s draft class is similar to that of every year; it has its strengths and weaknesses, but hard work will yield plenty of strong players. That process is what makes Raye enjoy his job so much.

    “You work all year for this two and a half month stretch,” Raye said. “You just want to be right. You want to pick the right players. The (regular) season is fun, but for a scouting staff, there’s nothing better. To take about six or eight months of work and fit it into two days, it’s a lot of stress and it’s intense but it’s a fun challenge.”
  2. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

    Sep 28, 2006
    With Andre Smith going AWOL and being out of shape he may drop...him or Oher dropping to #16 would be the dream scenario.

    Outside of that our pick possibilities do not excite me. Rey-Rey wouldn't be a big enough improvement over the young guys we already have.

    Hopefully AJ will have something up his sleeve, or Sanchez is still available and somebody wants to trade up for him and we trade down and get a second to use on Jaron Gilbert!!!

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