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San Diego Chargers: Biggest Draft Day Regret In Franchise History

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Bolts4lyfe, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. Bolts4lyfe

    Bolts4lyfe BoltTalker

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    By Thomas Conroy


    The San Diego Chargers have been guilty of getting rid of or negligent in drafting Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Just look at their history: they traded the rights to Eli Manning, released Drew Brees and passed on selecting Tom Brady in the NFL Draft. The common thread between all three is the ability to play at their best in big games.


    How often does a franchise regret their sixth-round draft pick, but Brady has won four Super Bowls and is destined for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame once his playing career has ended. Bear in mind, the Chargers weren’t alone passing on him, as 198 times, other franchises chosed someone else off the draftboard before the New England Patriots finally selected Brady with the 199th pick in the sixth-round of the 2000 NFL Draft.


    Let’s not forget the Chargers were in the midst of the Ryan Leaf era, as he quickly became the main source of the fans displeasure over another disappointing season. Also, Leaf was becoming a distraction inside his own lockerroom. To outsiders, it seemed like a no-brainer for the front office to rebuild with another young quarterback.


    Let’s go back in time, as the main culprit of this colossal mistake was then Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, who was a nonconformist that always betted on the moment rather than the future. Often, he traded away future first-round draft picks to acquire extra selections in that current year’s draft. Sometimes, these moves (WR Mikhael Ricks and WR Brian Stills) backfired horribly.



    Beathard was a firm believer that a head coach and his staff should coach and let the front office build the roster. Never should the two intertwine. His goal each offseason was to acquire impact players either through the draft or via trade and free agency. With each passing year, Beathard was becoming more frustrated with the entire process.



    Brady caught the eye of Mike Riley during his tenure as the offensive coordinator of the USC Trojans. In fact, Riley thought he had the talented prep star signed, sealed and delivered to Southern Cal until then Trojans head coach John Robinson put a wrench in that plan. He informed him there wasn’t an available scholarship for Brady, as the final one was awarded to incoming freshman sensation, quarterback Quincy Woods.



    Once, he became the Chargers head coach, Riley lobbied hard to the front office to use a late round pick on Brady. Beathard wasn’t convinced, as Brady’s combine workout graded out average. The team’s final evaluation report of him read that he was nothing more than a serviceable backup quarterback.


    All of this talk is pure speculation and doesn’t guarantee that Brady would have the same success in San Diego as he achieved in New England. No one can argue that he has played his entire NFL career with a giant chip on his shoulder. Brady is always trying to prove the experts wrong, as this motivation has prompted him to become one of the best to ever play the quarterback position.


    This is what we do know about Tom Brady, he went into his first professional training camp with the Patriots as a fourth-string quarterback. After an impressive preseason, Brady elevated himself into the primary backup role behind starter Drew Bledsoe, as he seized an opportunity given to him and never looked back

    Why and how? Well, winning does matter to him.
     
  2. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    As if Eli would have won a Super Bowl with the Chargers....

    Drew Brees' departure has extenuating circumstances everyone likes to conveniently forget....and even so they didn't let him walk, they offered him a contract and another team offered him a much better one.

    And give me a break with Tom Brady. He was drafted in round 6. Every team in the NFL, including the Patriots, passed on him.
     
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  3. JohnnyX

    JohnnyX 2017 Chargers Head Coach

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    Did Beathard really covet his picks so much that despite the hard lobbying of his Head Coach he couldn't waste a 6th rounder on QB. Especially considering how bad the QB situation was then.

    The Chargers woes seem more centralized in retaining a Bad GMs well past their prime years.
     
  4. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    You saved me the trouble of typing almost the exact same thing
     
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  5. Brundlefly

    Brundlefly Well-Known Member

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    And would the Chargers coaches been able to develop Brady into the QB he became?
     
  6. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    Eli's inclusion on the list is probably the most asinine of them all, really.

    Nevermind the fact that he's a mediocre QB who got hot at the right time twice.

    Even if he was a Hall of Fame caliber QB with 9 Super Bowl rings and performed 15 times better than his brother it'd be asinine to include him on this list for the simple fact that he refused to play for the Chargers.

    For all of AJ's sins it's a minor miracle that he was able to convince any GM in the NFL to give him anything for a player the entire world knew was going to refuse to play a down for his team.
     
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  7. Dublin Bolt

    Dublin Bolt BoltTalker

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    Hear hear.
     
  8. Dublin Bolt

    Dublin Bolt BoltTalker

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    I had to look up Quincy Woods who I'd never heard of. Amazing how a "freshman sensation" can disappear as he did.
     
  9. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if anybody's ever called the Colts stupid for trading John Elway.
     
  10. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    I don't think they were stupid for trading him but were incredibly stupid for how they played it and the general dysfunction of their team/organization.

    Brady I guess is a regret of nearly every team that passed on him at least six times.
     
  11. Brundlefly

    Brundlefly Well-Known Member

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    Including Brady on there is so stupid
     
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  12. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Some of the biggest mistakes IMHO draft wise

    1) Leaf....duh
    2) Constant trading of #1s for 2nd rounders
    3) The entire 2003 draft starting with passing on Polamalu
    4) The entire 2009 draft
    5) Trading a second rounder for Jacob Hester
     
  13. Moses

    Moses Can You Stand The Rain?

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    Can we add Jonas Mouton in there too? Lol
     
  14. LT-Express

    LT-Express Bolttalk.com Janitor since 06' Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Buster Davis, Jacob Hester,
     
  15. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    It was always my theory that it was never about the Chargers, and only about his desire to play in New York. Watching the Caught in the Draft episode about the 2004 draft on NFL Net pretty much confirms that. Ultimately his hissy fit could have landed him in either Oakland or Arizona since they picked after the Chargers but before the Giants. It was all a scheme to force a trade. F*ck ECry and his pasty daddy!
     
  16. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    Did he even get hot twice? The Giants got hot the first time, and their defense throttled the Patriots offense enough that the paltry 17 points put up by "hot" ECry Manning was even enough to win that game. In the game vs Green Bay he barely completed 50% of his passes and it was a pick in overtime and a FG that won that game for New York. The second time MAYBE, but even then it took two Kyle Williams fumbles to give the Giants the game against the 49ers. And lets not forget that BOTH of his Super Bowl wins came about because people on the Patriots can't catch. First Assante Samuel, then Wes Welker. He could easily be 0-2 in the Super Bowl, but he has been fortunate as hell.
     
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  17. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    ECry Super Bowl gift #1:



    ECry Super Bowl Gift #2:

     
  18. ETicket

    ETicket Well-Known Member

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    Maybe add Jonas Mouton to this list. For me, that selection was the nail in the coffin on AJ Smith. Good Lord... he was projected as a sixth rounder and we took hime in the 2nd! I remember the TV commentators scrambling to figure out who he was. It was a total WTF just happened situation.

    FYI - Just after Mouton some of the guys drafted include Randall Cobb, Justin Houston and DeMarco Murray.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
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  19. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Just playing Devil's Advocate a bit, since it sort of fits in with what it looks like is the topic of the thread (how's that for a whole helluvalot of qualifying a statement?!), as to who bears the brunt for the bad decision:

    1) Leaf.
    - Now hear me out, yes, the front office blew their character due diligence on Leaf. But going off his tape (in all fairness, I was 16 at the time, but you can still find some Washington State game film from that time... the bowl games at minimum on the net), he checks boxes aplenty and if it hadn't been us with that #2 pick, just about any other QB needy team would have likely selected Senor Bust had they had the pick. Leaf wasn't quite a case of Jamarcus Russell - where all his hype was built off of a single bowl game and a gaga build/body - moreso Vince Young where he had legitimate chops to be considered for the pick he was... everywhere but between the ears and in the ribcage (metaphorically speaking).

    2) Beathard
    - Though it also falls on Spanos for failing to grasp that at some point when there's a neverending string of new coaches all of whom fail over and over again despite past successes the root of the problem is probably the guy you're depending on to hire those coaches and outfit them with teams. Hindsight being 20/20 this is easily where a reasonable person looking back could fairly question whether the Spanos family are owners that care about long-term success so long as they can maximize revenue from short-term success.

    3) Marty (at least for passing on Polamalu - it's been reported that he didn't want Troy and didn't think he was big and tough enough); Butler (because he never seemed to evaluate DB's prospects past how much hype they were getting)
    - In fairness to Butler, he got great value (pure pick return) for the trade back - just poor return on investment of the picks that he spent. SciFi in the 5th is arguably the best pick from this class... a punter... in the 5th round. Allowing for the 3 years you're typically supposed to give before rendering judgment on the product/pick, I wouldn't be shocked if this was the draft class that AJ used as his ammo to shoehorn Marty's influence out of the personnel matters. There are a lot of picks that fit what had historically been "Marty type" guys from his previous gigs in KC and Cleveland (Kiel/Davis - The "big" corners more known for their hitting and tackling than their coverage abilities; Wilhelm - The LB who was a product of the system/talent around him in college; the "really big" OL who could road grade but had heavy feet and beyond-raw handwork in pass-blocking - Van Buren).

    From Victor Riley to Greg Favors to Robert Williams to Nathan Parks to Kevin Porter, these types are littered through Marty's tenure with the teams he coached when he was in a position to heavily influence the draft. In 2006 you see a class with AJ at the helm that is devoid of a single "Marty guy" type. Kind of looks like AJ wanting Rivers and Marty not was the beginning of the rift and the '06 draft (where AJ had proof that Marty's heavy influence on draft picks didn't yield adequate results) was where AJ planted his flag that he was the shot-caller.

    4) AJ
    - Plain and simple. You can fault Norv more for things that happened in 2008 (Buster Davis and Hester primarily as those were both apparently guys he pounded the table for), but the 2009 draft falls almost entirely on AJ's shoulders. Vasquez turned out to be a good pick - not one we ended up able to hold onto (that thanks to AJ as well), but this is the class it seems far more obvious than the year prior that AJ had bought too heavily into his own hype with regard to his ability to unearth "diamonds" from the depths of the unknown. This is also the draft where it became apparent that the people AJ was surrounding himself with for advice (Jimmy Raye; Cottrell the year prior; John Spanos) were heavily flawed when it came to either evaluating or placing any kind of value on basic fundamentals of football, and rather appeared to just be box-score scouting and doing so out of reaction.

    5) Norv (and Jimmy Raye)
    - Norv pounded the table for the guy and Jimmy backed him up because Jimmy loved any SEC player they put in front of him. And frankly, I think AJ was in such a "my guy is going to show up Marty" ego-trip mode that he was willing to give Norv carte blanche if Norv really wanted a guy - seemingly forgetting the fact that this was (allegedly) our fall-back choice HC candidate. It's also no coincidence that 2008 marked John Spanos moving from what had previously been a business/cap-and-contracts-oriented position in the FO to "Director of College Scouting." Coincidentally (or not, since Telesco was said to have retained a number of our scouts that were with the team when he was hired) our evaluation and selection has markedly improved now that Johnny's been moved up to Executive VP of Football Operations (McGuire's old position, and basically the "cap-guy") and turned over the charge of College Scouting to Kevin Kelly who came in with Telesco.
     
  20. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

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  21. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    I'd have to say one of the biggest regrets (yeah, you miss on 1st rounders at about a 40% clip unless you're a really good GM) in recent memory is still Mouton.

    Not only because of the fact that he never amounted to anything or that he made us the laughing stock of all of Day 2 of that draft. But also because of who went immediately following him who would have immensely helped out this team and who the best "reason against" that AJ would have had (aside perhaps from a positive drug test in one case) could have been applied to Mouton himself: "We have a recent premium pick invested (by AJ) in that position." Those guys... Randall Cobb (who we clung to Busted Davis to spite) and Justin Houston. This also coming in an offseason where we'd put Vincent Jackson on the franchise tag (with likely knowledge that unless he did the very low-percentage action of taking less guaranteed money which wasn't likely given he'd made it clear he'd hold out if given the tag) and a season where we'd waived Shawne Merriman and were basically banking on aging Phillips, English, and Travis freakin' Laboy to be the crux of our edge-rush.
     
  22. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    With the exception of Liuget and Gachkar (I'll give AJ credit for those two), 2011 was the biggest waste of draft chips I had ever seen. The choices were so ridiculous, the obvious misses at the time mind bending and it was THE draft that sealed his and Norv's fate. Didn't take a rocket scientist then to see it, I called it the worst draft in decades.
     
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  23. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Like I said, AJ's biggest fault wasn't quite so much that he just could admit when he'd made a mistake (I'd say that's 2nd or 3rd biggest, in fairness though). It was that he was wildly inconsistent as to when and how he'd do it. Value players were just ignored (but only at some positions) because AJ had a guy that he (or he and one of the coaches) either had dog-eared for a later round in that existing draft or that they had taken highly in another draft. The horrible irony is that this flew right in the face of the philosophy they'd tried to sell us that they had with picks like English (remember that the goal was to get all three of him, Phillips, and Merriman on the field at the same time?), Cason, and Busted Davis picks.
     
  24. Fouts

    Fouts I heart Deano!

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    John Spanos
     
  25. Fossil

    Fossil BoltTalker

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    Somewhere down the list of AJ's faults is his obsession with loyalty and continuity. Great if you have a roster stocked with pro bowlers, but not so much if you have a team that's missing pieces and stocked with 2nd tier (or lower) talent.
     
  26. Chaincrusher

    Chaincrusher BoltTalker

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    I agree that A.J. could have done better with the 2011 draft, but I do not think the 2011 draft was as poor as you suggest. Yes, Mouton was an obvious bust who had a 5th round rating or worse by just about everyone except A.J. I am with you there.

    Liuget is a good player and Gachkar was a nice find for a round 7 pick. We seem to agree there as well.

    But while Gilchrist was not great, he filled a role for us satisfactorily. We were 4th in passing yardage against last year and Gilchrist was an integral part of a pass defense that succeeded despite the team lacking an effective pass rush for much of the season.

    Wright was arguably the most improved player on the team last year, our best run defending CB by a mile, but he probably saw his fate sealed by a plethora of phantom penalty calls against him. I suspect the he will play well for SF and that we will miss him this year, especially his physicality.

    Brown showed a lot of promise, but he never did seem to recover from his severe ankle injury. I think it is unfair to put an injury ruined career on the GM unless the GM has cause to suspect that the player may experience injury problems in the NFL (previous injuries, obvious physical shortcomings, etc.).

    Todman and Schilling were 6th round picks that have managed to stay in the NFL and have done an okay job when given a chance to play. For the 6th round, I wouldn't rate those as terrible draft picks. I certainly would not say that the picks were any worse than Tourek Williams or Grice, Telesco's 6th round picks. I think it is the exception, not the rule for a 6th round pick to be an impact player.

    Finally, it should be noted that the 2011 draft was not exceptionally deep in talent. There are some definite Pro Bowlers at the top and a few fortunate hits here and there, but that draft class has been pretty weak overall.

    So, it seems like Mouton was the only pure bust in a weak draft class. I very much wish we had drafted Justin Houston, who was taken 9 picks later, instead of Mouton, but as they say, hindsight is 20-20. Ultimately, I can't give A.J.'s 2011 draft anything worse than a C grade on the whole.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  27. Chaincrusher

    Chaincrusher BoltTalker

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    WTF????!!!!!!

    I would consider the trade with the Giants that brought Rivers to us as one of the most one-sided trades in league history! We got 3 Pro Bowl quality players, including a league MVP candidate/elite QB, a DPOY candidate that was arguably the league's most disruptive force for a short period, and one of the most accurate kickers of all time for a mediocre at best QB. We robbed the Giants blind that day!

    For all of those Eli lovers, yes Rivers is ten times as good as Eli. No, winning a Super Bowl is not an individual accomplishment. Neither is winning two of them. Winning a Super Bowl is a team accomplishment.

    And, in other news, 1) Dan Fouts was better than Jim Plunkett, notwithstanding the fact that Jim Plunkett, like Eli, also has two Super Bowl rings and 2) there is air.
     
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  28. BoltsFanUK

    BoltsFanUK Well-Known Member

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    Or the Falcons with Favre
     
  29. Fossil

    Fossil BoltTalker

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    Or the Patriots for skipping over Tom Brady five times in the 2000 draft.
     

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