Best, worst draft-day trades in San Diego Chargers history
By Travis Wakeman
As the 2016 NFL draft draws closer, the San Diego Chargers will have to decide whether they want to take a player with the No. 3 overall pick, or perhaps trade back in an effort to stockpile more picks. Of course, the team will have the option to make trades later in the draft as well.
Draft-day trades are nothing new to the Chargers. In fact, the team has performed 55 trades on draft day dating back to 1971. For a look at each of these trades, you can track them here on the team’s official website. As noted, the team has made a trade on draft day in all but four years since 2000.
Of course, the trade that sent Eli Manning to New York and made Philip Rivers the new quarterback immediately comes to mind, as does the time the team traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. The team also made a trade last year to move up in the first round to select running back Melvin Gordon. Though Gordon was a promising player coming out of college, the jury is still out on that one.
But what were the moves that paid off? How about the ones that didn’t. With 55 to choose from, it was hard to narrow things down to just one, so we pulled out a few of each.
1983: Chargers trade two second-round picks to San Francisco for a first-round pick (No.22 overall): The 1983 NFL draft was one of the most memorable of all-time, largely because of the fact that quarterbacks John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino all came out of that class. But the Chargers found a way to move up into the first round in a trade with the 49ers to select a cornerback named Gill Byrd.
Byrd should be regarded as one of the best defensive players in team history, particularly because he is the franchise’s all-time leader in interceptions with 42. The trade worked out for the Niners as well, as they used one of the second-round picks they received to select running back Roger Craig.
1986: The Chargers did trade away a second-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings to move up six spots in the 1986 draft, but it did allow them to select defensive end Leslie O’Neal, who went on to become the team’s all-time sacks leader with 105.5. Besides, the guy the Vikings got at No. 14—Gerald Robinson—never went on to have the same kind of career. Or even close. O’Neal and Robinson both played defensive end, but the Chargers definitely got the better guy.
Revisiting the 2004 #Giants/#Chargers Draft Day Trade. pic.twitter.com/m735GbXcOI
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) February 17, 2016
2004: We referenced this one earlier, but the Chargers made out pretty well for a team that drafted a quarterback that didn’t want to play for them in 2004. By trading away the rights to Manning, the Chargers received the rights to Rivers along with three other draft picks. Those picks included kicker Nate Kaeding, who ranks third in team history with 889 points scored and Shawne Merriman, who had 43.5 sacks in six seasons with the team.
1996: Teams are quite reluctant to give away first-round picks in today’s NFL, but in 1996, the Chargers traded a future first-round pick in 1997 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 41 overall selection in 1996. With that choice, the Chargers selected wide receiver Bryan Still out of Virginia Tech. Still caught just 81 passes in four years with the team.
1998: If you’re going to have the trade that led to drafting Still on this list, you have to have the one that led to drafting Mikhael Ricks. Remember that guy? He looked like the perfect wide receiver-tight end hybrid in 1998 and the Chargers just couldn’t help themselves. Again they called Tampa Bay and again they traded away a future first-round pick, this time in the year 2000, for the No. 59 overall choice in 1998.
That choice became Ricks, who caught 70 passes and scored a whole two touchdowns in his short-lived tenure with the Chargers. He was completely out of the league by 2004 after stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions.
The No. 13 overall pick in the 2000 draft that originally belonged to San Diego ended up being used by the New York Jets to select John Abraham, one of the best sack artists of his generation.
2008: Jacob Hester was a productive player for the Chargers, but did the team need to give away its fifth-round pick in 2008 as well as a second-round selection the following year to draft him? Hester was used primarily as a fullback and short-yardage back with the team, but that seems a hefty price to pay.
Hester was a great blocker for the team, but ran for just 319 yards in four years with the team. Despite being used as a halfback in college at Louisiana State and rushing for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, Hester was never used as such in San Diego. The team released him in 2012.
What other Chargers draft-day trades do you feel should be on either of these lists? Let us know in the comments section below.