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News » GM: Chargers have 'a lot to fix' during draft 2009-04-20


GM: Chargers have 'a lot to fix' during draft 2009-04-20


GM: Chargers have 'a lot to fix' during draft 2009-04-20
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A.J. Smith could use a draft-day rebound.


His San Diego Chargers are hardly the Super Bowl-caliber team many people thought going into last year, and the general manager's last two drafts seemed to bring about as many questions as answers.

While the Chargers remain a talented bunch, Smith has admitted the Bolts have a lot of work to do to become more than just a team that routinely wins the mild, mild AFC West before being left stranded somewhere along the road to the Super Bowl.

After winning the awful division at 8-8 thanks largely to Denver's utter collapse, the Chargers won a riveting overtime playoff game against Indianapolis. But then they were exposed by the more physical Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.

Several weeks later, Smith pointed a finger inward, making a rare public acknowledgment that he wasn't happy with some of his player-personnel decisions during the last two years.

Smith stays away from splashy free agent signings, so the draft is his main way of restocking.

"We've got a lot to fix," Smith said.

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As usual with Smith, there are no specifics other than the Chargers have no plans to draft a kicker or a punter because they're set with Nate Kaeding and Mike Scifres.

Everything else is in play. Just don't expect an answer from Smith on what he feels is the team's biggest need, let alone which players he likes.

"Oh my goodness, no," Smith said in the days leading up to his seventh draft as the Bolts' boss.

He did acknowledge the Chargers can go in several different directions. They currently hold the 16th pick overall and have eight picks total. One option would be to trade down because they don't have a second-round pick.

That's because Smith sent it to New England on the second day of last year's draft to move up to the third round and take fullback Jacob Hester. Some people think Smith overpaid for Hester, just as some believe it was a reach for him to spend heavily to move up in the 2007 draft and take safety Eric Weddle.

Smith's 2007 first-round pick, wide receiver Craig Davis, has been injured and not overly productive when healthy.

Although the Chargers have boasted in recent seasons about their depth and number of players under long-term contracts, they certainly can use help in several areas.

The Chargers are believed to like defensive end Tyson Jackson of LSU to replace Igor Olshansky, who was allowed to leave as a free agent.

Smith wasn't happy with the play of the offensive line or the secondary last season. The Chargers haven't had a hard-hitting safety since Rodney Harrison left after the 2002 season. And remember, Smith could have taken Troy Polamalu in 2003, but traded down and took cornerback Sammy Davis instead. Davis flopped, was traded to San Francisco and is no longer in the NFL.

"We've got some concerns," Smith said. "I don't want to get into specifics. We've got to fix a lot of things."

If Jackson's gone by the 16th pick, one scenario has the Chargers taking Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and converting him to safety. Jenkins, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, said during the scouting combine in February he'd prefer to stay at cornerback.

Must-read:

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Top headlines:


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 20, 2009

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Scott Mruczkowski Name: Scott Mruczkowski
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