The 15 greatest draft picks in LA Chargers history

Jason Reed
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Dan Fouts Preparing to Throw the Football
Dan Fouts Preparing to Throw the Football / Wally McNamee/GettyImages

1. Dan Fouts, 1973

In terms of statistics, Dan Fouts is the second-best quarterback in Chargers history behind Philip Rivers. However, there is still a strong contingent of Charger fans who believe that Fouts was the more talented quarterback and it is hard to argue against them.

Fouts was truly ahead of his time playing in the Air Coryell offense and if he would have came around at the same time as Rivers, which more protection both for the quarterback and receivers, then his career numbers likely would have been even better. Regardless, Fouts is a Hall of Famer and is considered one of the best and most influential quarterbacks of all time.

You would expect that out of a first-round pick at quarterback but that is not where Fouts was taken. The Chargers drafted Fouts in the third round of the 1973 NFL Draft with the 64th overall pick. The only two quarterbacks in NFL history with more passing yards as a third-round pick or later are Frank Tarkenton and Tom Brady.

Fouts' career numbers would have been even better if Don Coryell would have gotten the job sooner than he did. Fouts did not have his first great season until 1979, when he threw for 4,082 yards and 24 touchdowns en route to being named an All-Pro (yet losing out on MVP to Earl Campbell).

In 1981 Fouts finished with a staggering 4,802 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns. While that may not seem that miraculous in today's game, for his time, these were ground-breaking numbers. Prior to 1979, Joe Namath was the only quarterback in league history with a 4,000-yard season, throwing for 4,007 yards in 1967.

Fouts did not just set a new record at that time, but he blew the old record out of the water by over 20% with his 4,802-yard season. Dan Marino broke the record with a 5,000-yard season in 1984, but except for that one amazing season, another quarterback did not throw for 4,800 yards until Kurt Warner in 2001 and then Tom Brady in 2007. There have been 27 such seasons since 2010.

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The Chargers drafted a true trailblazer who was well ahead of his time with the 64th pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. That undoubtedly has to be the best pick in franchise history.