What a pleasant change from A.J. Smith and the Chargers after the first three rounds of the draft. No surprise pick from out of the blue. No workout warrior who 'has a high ceiling' but can't play right now. No gambles on players with great talent but rocks in their head (hey there, Antonio). No huge expenditures in assets to trade up to grab a guy who turns out to be underwhelming and might have been available at the original slot anyway (hey there, Ryan).
Instead, he seems to have grabbed the best player available, starting with Melvin Ingram in the first round. While I was petrified that they would grab another one-year wonder pass-rusher from Illinois (hey there, Robert) in Whitney Mercilus, they ended up with the highest-graded pure pass-rusher in the draft. He's first and foremost a football player who's adapted to many positions over his career, and seems to have no holes. He's big, mobile, fast, productive, smart and a leader.
In the second, they strengthened the defensive line with Kendall Reyes, a team captain at Connecticut who played well, and did well at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine. The Chargers were intrigued enough that they brought him in for a visit, and came away even more impressed. So they didn't have to overthink or trade up to get the player they wanted, a player who makes sense in terms of his ranking and team needs was available.
In the third, they get a team captain off a very successful major college program in LSU safety Brandon Taylor. Again, not a headscratcher or a huge reach or a player who looks great next to a tape measure but is a big project. Instead, they got a football player, a guy who has played in the biggest games and produced. Bill Polian on ESPN explained that third-rounders all have holes in their résumé, so a team's success derives from taking players who fit in well in your team schemes and philosophy despite their flaws. Mr. Taylor's 'hole' is his lack of size for a strong safety, but I prefer guys who can play as opposed to guys who 'have a high ceiling' but can't play and choke under pressure. The cost of a sixth rounder to move up in the third to get him is a very affordable one, as opposed to some of the organizational wealth Mr. Smith has surrendered in the past to acquire players such as Eric Weddle, Ryan Matthews and Jacob Hester, sometimes needlessly.
The Chargers in recent years have been one of the dumbest teams in the NFL, committing errors of omission instead of errors of commission. They've fumbled balls, and taken bad penalties, and whined to the ref and lost their composure in big games, when the clock was ticking down. They've been the exact opposite of the Patriots, a team built with winners and players and smart guys who perform in the fourth quarter. I'm glad that we're moving away from the Antonio Cromarties and the Vaughn Martins of this world and grabbing character guys who love and know football instead, guys who can step in immediately and play rather than guys who will monopolize coaches' time and stay clean on Sundays.