I believe that when drafting players it is important to make sure that they are good long term investments. The draft is not a time to pick guys who have issues. Attitude issues and injury issues can be more telling then how fast they ran at the combine or how many passes were caught/completed in college. Without taking in the entire picture, you risk “draftastrophies”. The San Diego Chargers seem to have the market cornered on odd and just plain horrible draft picks. Here are my top five draftastrophies.
5. Shawne Merriman – 2005 draft. Merriman, AKA “Lights Out” was an exciting pass rusher in his first three seasons. He thrilled Chargers fans with 39 1/2 sacks in 37 starts. Then in training camp in 2008, he tore ligaments in his knee, requiring major surgery. That, combined with the fact he stopped taking steroids after getting caught and started beating up undesirable women made his departure acceptable. While I enjoyed watching him for about a season and a half, it was embarrassing to hear about his off field antics more often than his on field accomplishments.
4. Sammy Davis – 2003 draft. Expected to be a defensive star, he managed to get thrown on by every QB the Chargers met. I often wondered if he (like Sammy Davis Jr.) also only had one eye, because in his three years as a Charger he only managed to get three interceptions. He didn’t have great numbers in college and performed mediocre at the combine, so, why??????
3. Antonio Cromartie – 2006 draft. Cromartie, AKA “Baby Daddy” was injured his entire senior year at Florida State. That did not deter the Chargers from picking up the injury prone cornerback. Cromartie managed to stay injury free in 2007, breaking records and giving us hope. But, alas, if he had spent as much time working on his football skills as his baby making skills he might still be a Charger today. For the record, Cromartie has fathered nine children with eight women living in six states.
2. Eli Manning – 2004 draft. “With the first pick of the 2004 NFL draft – the San Diego Chargers select — Eli Manning.” Those words ignited a firestorm that is still a source for debate today. Of course, the Giants drafted Philip Rivers 4th and managed a famous draft-day trade (which also brought the Chargers Nate Kaeding, Shawne Merriman and Roman Oben) that has been discussed and examined several times. Short story, keep your yap shut Eli, the Chargers never wanted you!
1. Ryan Leaf – 1998 draft. Chargers GM Bobby Beathard actually gave up a lot to move up from third to second to get Leaf. We traded away two first-round draft picks, a second-round draft pick, and gave four-time Pro Bowl running back Eric Metcalf to the Cardinals. I’m pretty sure based on what everyone new about Leaf and his antics at Washington State that we could have had the 10th pick and he still would have been available. Looking back it is so odd that people were comparing Leaf and Manning. I wonder if the same thing will happen with RG3 and Luck, but I will save that thought for another blog.
We can only hope that this year there will not be any additions to my list.