If it feels like you’ve heard this once before, it’s probably because you have. Chargers’ General Manager A.J. Smith is again spewing his rhetoric about the club’s possible strategies in the upcoming NFL Draft and if it’s any indication, things could get interesting.
According to the San-Diego Union Tribune, Smith said: “We’re wide open. We have been always since I’ve been here, and we’ve done everything. We’ve gone up in the attack. We’ve bailed out in the past, and we’ve stayed where we are. It depends on circumstance.”
The familiarity that fans feel with this talk is quite understandable as GM Smith made similar comments leading up to the 2010 draft when the team moved up sixteen slots to select running back Ryan Mathews. That year also saw the team move up in the third round to take inside linebacker Donald Butler and one more time for good measure in the fifth round to select nose tackle Cam Thomas.
Any deals will likely be made in the week leading up to draft day or during the process itself, but the GM does have one stipulation. He said: “Don’t bother with three minutes left or less to run some concocted idea that you may have because you’re ready to do something and you’re presenting your case. I’m not interested. I’ve been very consistent with that. I like (to trade), prior to a cut-off. I’ve had a few (offers) along the way from people who don’t understand, more so in the past. But when you’ve been on the job long enough and we all know each other, they pretty much know that ‘let’s just skip the Chargers. Don’t even make that call even though you’d like to do that. It’s too late.’”
Trades have been a part of the draft picture for the Chargers under Smith’s direction as six of his nine drafts with the club have featured some deals. Of course his tenure began with the most infamous trade involving Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, but he has made eight draft day deals in total. Still the team has also had more quiet years where they stand pat and select where they have been slotted in such as last year when zero trades were made on draft day by San Diego.
In sticking with the draft theme, GM Smith attended the Notre Dame pro day on April 3rd to see safety Harrison Smith. It has been reported that he also took a hard look at wide receiver Michael Floyd and was very impressed with what he saw. While the idea of trading has always been a possibility regardless of what players are available, the fact that GM Smith was so enamored with Floyd is particularly worrisome. The team has already inked a number of wideouts this offseason in hopes of replacing Vincent Jackson by committee and drafting another (especially in the first round) would be a big mistake.
As for dealing to get Smith, the idea of trading down and out of round one and taking him early in round two is beginning to gain some appeal from my perspective. Rather than do that very same thing in 2007 with Eric Weddle, GM Smith reached for wide receiver Buster Davis and then proceeded to trade back up in the early second round for Weddle. Getting a do-over is a rare thing as a personnel guru in the NFL, but Smith gets his opportunity this year and hopefully he makes the most of it.
The déjà vu vibe that this year’s draft is giving off is a bit eerie to say the least, but the Chargers were close to making a Super Bowl run back then. This time could provide the team with the talent needed to change that previous outcome and get this team primed for a run in 2012. No one player is going to push the Bolts over that hump, but GM Smith’s acquisitions this offseason along with the development of some younger guys should be enough to improve this club in the coming year.
Now it’s your turn! Is it just me, or are you feeling déjà vu too with the circumstances surrounding the Bolts heading into this year’s draft compared to both 2007 and 2010? Is GM Smith’s track record as a trading machine a positive or a negative when it comes to building a successful roster? Do you see the team having an active draft this year like the one from 2010 or a more subdued selection like last year and picking as allotted? What are your thoughts on trading out of the first round altogether and snagging safety Harrison Smith early on in round two? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts on all of this and more!
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