With Andre Smith's Stock Falling, Do The Chargers Consider Him At 16?

Andre Smith

As one of the most decorated and dominating offensive linemen in the entire country the past three years, it was almost a no-brainer that Andre Smith would declare for the NFL and fore go his senior year at Alabama. The Outland Trophy winner entered the weekend as one of the top 3 offensive tackles in the draft, and a potential top 15 pick overall. But instead of cementing his place among the best prospects available, Smith is raising some serious question marks about his intelligence, weight issues, and overall commitment to the game. Red flags such as these are devastating for an offensive linemen expecting to become a top pick come April. So should the San Diego Chargers use this as an opportunity to draft a player previously thought to be out of reach, or would the team be better off going in another direction?

There's no denying that Andre Smith has the tools to become a dominating tackle in the NFL, particularity in a power running offense where he'd do his best work as a blocker. Smith, a massive tackle at 332lbs, has remarkable quickness for his size, and could player either right or left tackle. Smith can be a punishing blocker when he wants to be and will serve up q pancake or two during games. He's never missed a game due to injury and has been projected as high as the second overall pick.

But with the good, comes the bad;

Andre Smith was suspended for the Sugar Bowl, his final game as a collegiate player, for improper dealings with an agent. Smith described the suspension was due to a "bad decision" on his part. Since he isn't a senior, he obviously could play in the Senior Bowl, so the NFL Scouting Combine is the first chance NFL Scouts have had to check Smith out. Smith showed up at the Combine this weekend but choose not to participate in workouts. After a press conference where he didn't come off particularly impressive, Smith decided to leave Indianapolis completely, explaining that he'd only been "down at API for like three weeks, four weeks at the most."

The decision not to participate, he explained, was due to the fact that he had only recently signed with an agent. Without an agent, players can't enroll in pre-draft training facilities and programs. Andre Smith seemed relieved to be sitting at 332lbs, down from 345lbs, but for all intents and purposed he felt he was not in top shape, and that working out at the combine could could a misrepresentation of his true athleticism.

Smith took it upon himself to schedule a 6am flight out of Indy, and flew back home to Alabama. Not only would Smith not compete in drills or workouts, he would also not be available for meetings with NFL teams. The news of Smith's premature departure sent shockwaves throughout the NFL community, but an explanation would eventually follow:

"I got done in Indianapolis what I thought I should have, but I realize there was more to it now. It was important for me to get back to my trainer and that's what I did. All I was thinking about was what it would take to get to the next level."

"If I had the chance to do it all over, I wouldn't have handled it the way I did. I should have told my group leader that I was leaving, and I didn't. I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers or step on any toes. I didn't mean to grandstand anyone at the combine. That was not my intention at all, and I apologize for my mistake."

So weighting both sides of the argument, do you think the San Diego Chargers should strongly consider Andre Smith if he were available at pick number 16, or should the team take the next best tackle? If the Chargers were dead-set on taking an offensive tackle in the first round, would they be better off reaching for a guy with a low first/early second round grade, or should they roll the dice on the player many considered to be the next Orlando Pace? Give your take in the comments below, I'm eager to know what you'd do as GM:

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February 22, 2009

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Anonymous said... Feb 23, 2009, 7:39:00 AM

I think Andre is too talented to let pass up. Marcus McNeill also had some question marks and he slipped to the second round because of them. Worked out pretty well for us I'd say!

Anonymous said... Feb 23, 2009, 11:40:00 AM

AJ has shown that he uses a player's body of work as his top reason for drafting a player. If Andre's available at #16, he's ours. I personally feel a DT is the teams' most pressing need. Not only to replace Igor but also for the fact that a good pass rush makes your secondary look a lot better.

Anonymous said... Feb 24, 2009, 8:25:00 PM

We should draft Smith no doubt if he's there OR we take Maualuga over Moreno (if he's there)
I'm not really sure about Moreno since the RB class is very deep, would rather trade up to acquire a 2nd rounder and then draft Jackson

Anonymous said... Feb 26, 2009, 11:50:00 PM

very good point about getting him at 16. I think him not playing in Alabama most important game of the season hurts. he could very well do something stupid for him not to play in the the super bowl and then where will we be? same spot as alabama and get blown out by utah. A solid defense player is where is see them going moreno would be nice but with denver two or three spots a head of us i dont see that happening. Love for Okapo to be a charger next fall.

BoltHead said... Feb 27, 2009, 12:36:00 PM

These "character" issues don't bother me. Once a college player knows he's going pro, there must be intense temptation to begin moving toward the big bucks. Especially since many of these kids grow up so poor. If the kid had been caught with drugs or been accused of an act of violence, I'd run away. But, taking some cash when you're about to become rich is common and forgivable. It doesn't tell me anything about how he'll be as a pro. If the talent is there and his college coaches approved of his work ethic, I'd take him at 16 in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said... Feb 27, 2009, 11:38:00 PM

he disappeared at the combine, the biggest thing leading up to the draft,what makes you think he wont do that in training camp? a lot of these guys that are having legal trouble or off the field problems had the samething in college as well.

Anonymous said... Mar 12, 2009, 3:17:00 AM

No brainer. At 16 you take him.

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