Grading Ancient History: The 2005 Chargers Draft

Vincent Jackson, the steal of the 2005 NFL Draft - Harry How

A.J. Smith follows up one of the best drafts in San Diego Chargers history with one that might be just as good. This one netted the team four eventual Pro Bowlers.

The Chargers 2005 draft in one word: Sheesh. The talent that general manager A.J. Smith found in this draft is amazing. If 2004 was the draft that would eventually make San Diego contenders, this is the draft that laid the foundation. The sequel to 2004's brilliance netted a combined 6 Prow Bowl trips and 3 All-Pro selections.

Here's what Sports Illustrated thought the San Diego Chargers' draft needs were heading into the 2005 NFL Draft.

  • OT: They get a lot from a little but need to upgrade the talent.
  • WR: A big, productive No. 1 receiver must be found.
  • OLB: A complete run stuffer/pass defender would improve the front seven.
  • DT: Depth is required behind massive Jamal Williams.

Let's see how A.J. Smith did.

Shawne Merriman

Rd.Pick Position Player School

1.12

OLB

Shawne Merriman

Maryland

One of the more polarizing players in the decade, "Lights Out" was everything you could possibly ask for in a 1st round pick. I don't know if you remember the name David Pollack, a linebacker out of Georgia who know works for ESPN, that's who I wanted here. I was wrong.

Things didn't start out all that smooth for Merriman. Those were the days when rookies were still holding out for contracts. Although his holdout only lasted ten days, Merriman started the season on the inactive list. It wasn't until Week 7 against the Eagles that he broke into the starting lineup, but the rookie out of Maryland took the league by storm. He recorded 6 sacks in his first four games and was voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, which is rare.

2006 is when all the steroid talk started, even though he still registered 17 sacks in only twelve games after facing a four game suspension. In 2008, Merriman tore his PCL, which eventually led to the demise of someone that was considered the best pass rusher in the game. It's unfortunate we didn't get to see this dance for more than 3 years.



If you say that you never stood up off of your couch and did this sack dance, you're lying. It's safe to say the Chargers filled their need for an Outside Linebacker in Merriman

Grade: A+

Luis Castillo

Rd.Pick Position Player School

1.28

DE

Luis Castillo

Northwestern

Another good player that AJ Smith can put on his resume. Castillo was named to the All-Rookie team after recording 3 1/2 sacks and getting constant pressure on the quarterback in 2005. He was even better the next year, when he registered 7 sacks and was an alternate to the Pro Bowl.

Luis was well on his way to becoming a great player but, like Merriman, injuries kept him from being a long-term success.

In 2007, Castillo had surgery on his knee and missed 6 games. After that, he was never quite the same player. Ultimately, a broken leg in week 1 of the 2011 season led to the end of Castillo's short NFL career.

This is another guy that you can't help but feel bad about when you think of the potential lost to injury, but Castillo was still a solid NFL player for a few years.

Grade: B-

Vincent Jackson

Rd.Pick Position Player School

2.61

WR

Vincent Jackson

Northern Colorado

Home. Run.

I had no idea who this guy was at the time. I don't know if anyone did. Good ol' Mel Kiper said this was a "reach" because the Chargers were desperate to add a receiver. Boy, was he wrong.

Things didn't get off to a fast start in Jackson's career, though. Because of injuries he was inactive for the first five games and only caught only 2 passes in 2005.. He started to come on slowly the next year and was thrusted into the lineup as a starter in 2007 with the release of Eric Parker and an injury to Keenan McCardell.

I wish I could find the video of the drop he had against the Bears. We all remember it. It was ugly. That would be one of the last times Chargers fans would be disappointed by this uber-talented receiver.

Come playoff time in 2007, Jackson started to make a name for himself around the league. He's been a Top 10 WR in the league ever since, first with the Chargers and now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many questioned his effort while he was in San Diego, and his run-ins with the law certainly didn't help his reputation, but there's no denying what he meant to Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offense.

Grade: A+

Darren Sproles

Rd.Pick Position Player School

4.130

RB/KR

Darren Sproles

Kansas St.

Even with the addition of Michael Turner the year before, I loved this pick at the time and still do.

Sproles finished 5th in Heisman voting the year he came out of college and if you ever saw him play in college you knew there was no way he wouldn't be successful as a pro. He was, and is, an electrifying player at every level.

Darren didn't get much of an opportunity his rookie year and, in 2006, he broke his ankle in the preseason and was placed on Injured Reserve. In 2007, he burst onto the scene as the primary return man for San Diego, becoming the first player since Dante Hall to score touchdowns on a kick return and punt return in the same game.

Sproles was the spark plug the offense needed and the ultimate bail out option out of the backfield for Philip Rivers. Unfortunately, the Chargers front office felt that they could replace Sproles by drafting another speedy back and let him walk in free agency in 2010. As we all know, big mistake. Sproles has continued to be great in the same role for the Saints. In 2011, he set the record for most all purpose yards.

Grade: B+

Wesley Britt

Rd.Pick Position Player School

5.164

T

Wesley Britt

Alabama

Who you ask?

Sports Illustrated did say that the Chargers needed help along the line (maybe some things never change) and A.J. Smith chose to wait until the 5th round to address that need. He swung and missed with this one.

Britt never played a regular season snap with the Chargers, he was released before Week 1 of the 2005 season. He went on to play for the New England Patriots and actually started a few games. As far as his contributions to the Chargers, there were none, making this the easiest grade of each of the picks.

Grade: F

Wes Sims

Rd.Pick Position Player School

6.177

G

Wes Sims

Oklahoma

Another player that didn't make it very far with the Chargers. He was cut before his rookie season even began, so no real contributions to the team.

Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer was asked if San Diego missed on both picks and he responded that he didn't think that they missed, just that they saw great development in some guy by the name of Kris Dielman, who had won the battle was poised to begin the season as the team's starting Left Guard. I wonder what ever happened with that Dielman guy...

Grade: F

Scott Mruczkowski

Rd.Pick Position Player School

7.242

G/C

Scott Mruczkowski

Bowling Green

This is exactly what you want with a 7th round pick. A guy that can come in and do different things and provide quality depth. Mruczkowski is a Center that filled in at both Guard spots occasionally, and also played a little Tight End in goal line sets.

Scott was actually the Chargers' starting center in 2009 and was arguably the teams best lineman that year. More props to A.J. for finding a guy that could contribute when needed.

Grade: B

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