I'm no draft expert and I don't claim to be. I don't follow college football closely and the players that teams pick are, for me, usually a surprise. I also think that many rookie NFL players are despicably overpaid and I wholeheartedly support a draft position-based pay scale. That stated, I do get as excited as the next guy over who my team (the San Diego Chargers, in case somebody hasn't noticed yet) picks during the NFL's annual meat market.
Yes, I criticize the general manager of the Chargers (A.J. Smith) quite often. Not because of his skill as a GM, but because of the oft-callous nature he treats his "employees." I understand that players get old and lose value, but I also understand the value of continuity and, for lack of better term, legacy. Say what I will, though, A.J. Smith knows how to pick players.
Anyway, here's who the Chargers acquired, accompanied by some of my painfully uneducated thoughts.
1. Ryan Mathews - RB - Fresno State - the heir-apparent to the departed LaDainian Tomlinson (now known as "Complainian" for the disrespectful manner in which he behaved upon leaving the Chargers), this guy averaged 157.5 yards per game his last season in college (per game???) and 6.55 yard per carry. The Chargers spent an awful lot to get this guy (their 28th, 40th, and 126th picks in the draft, plus LB Tim Dobbins to Miami... in return they got Mathews with the 12th pick, and received Miami's 110th and 173rd picks), and while I don't really see him filling LDT's shoes, if anyone could, this guy is it.
2. Donald Butler - LB - Washington - another "shocker" results in the Chargers trading up again, this time swapping their third-round pick with the 49ers (the Chargers did not have a second-round pick after the Mathews deal). San Diego also gave up their 173rd pick and a fourth-round pick in 2011. Call me crazy, but I think A.J. Smith seems relatively confident that most of the pieces are already in place for a run at the Super Bowl. Anyway, it's obvious that given the Shawne Merriman situation (he might not be a Charger much longer) and the Dobbins trade to Miami caused Smith to go for another linebacker. We'll see how this one pans out.
And the rest:
3. Darrell Stuckey - FS - Kansas - with the 110th pick, the Chargers drafted this guy to compete for the starting strong safety position (currently held by Kevin Ellison, opposite free safety Eric Weddle).
4. Cam Thomas - DT - North Carolina - the Chargers traded their 159th pick and next year's fifth-rounder to the Eagles in order to pick a new nose tackle at 146.
5. Jonathan Crompton - QB - Tennessee - after sending Charlie Whitehurst to the Seahawks (for a steal), the Chargers pick their new third-string quarterback with pick 168 (a compensatory selection).
6. Dedrick Epps - TE - Miami (FL) - not sure why, but with their final pick (235), the Chargers took a tight end.
Next up are the undrafted free agent signings, which is where A.J. Smith makes his money. Bring it on.