During a time when the Chargers didn’t have a great defense, Billy Ray Smith was a defensive leader and a guy with a non-stop motor. Though he’s not thought of often when talking about the best defensive players in team history, Smith was an excellent player.
Now known in the San Diego area as a radio talk show host, Smith played 10 seasons in the league, all with the Bolts. During that time, he registered 26.5 sacks and 15 interceptions in 126 career games.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Smith was the No. 5 overall selection of the famed 1983 NFL Draft. The only players picked ahead of him were Chris Hinton, Curt Warner, Eric Dickerson and John Elway. He was the first defensive player selected that year.
Though he was probably a better college player than he was a pro, he still made his mark at the next level. In 1989, he was chosen as a member of the All-Pro Second Team.
He was never selected to the Pro Bowl and played in just two playoff games. However, Smith was chosen to be part of the team’s 50th Anniversary Team as one of five linebackers on the list.