As Wonko noted in the Getting To Know The New Chargers column AJ Smith was on Darren Smith's show on Mighty 1090 yesterday. This was such a great interview that was packed with insider draft stuff I thought it deserved its own column with a full recap (just in case you can't listen to it). On the other side of the jump is a full recap of the interview with all the tasty insider tidbits that AJ gave up yesterday.
AJ is rather indifferent to the new format, did not think it affected much in the way that teams drafted. The additional dead time did not help much because teams prepare their plans/strategies (both in players they like and potential trades up/down) well in advance.
Chargers decided a few days before the draft that Ryan Matthews was absolutely their guy and it was really just a matter of how they were going to move up and get him.
The Chargers thought Matthews would go somewhere between #20 (Texans) and their pick at #28. They tried to get closer to the #20 pick but could not find a trading partner until Miami at #12, it was higher than they thought they would have to go to get Matthews but they were comfortable with the price they had to pay to get the player.
They tried not to give up the #40 pick but it was the only way to move up into a spot where they knew they could safely get Matthews. They were fortunate to have the pick otherwise they would probably not have the ammunition to move up to get Matthews.
All the trade feelers with other teams go out many days before the draft but it's more of a general feeler just to see what teams are looking to move up or down. No teams typically say that they are going to stand pat. The parameters of most trades are worked out before hand with the caveat of, if our guy is still on the board when your team is on the clock, we will give you this package to move up.
If you want to get a particular player you have to pay the price and move up to get him. Some teams are uncomfortable with this and are unwilling to take the risks but AJ has always been one to wheel and deal.
AJ mentioned that Parcells, Belichick and Reid are guys that are always willing to "play" (ie trade up or down in the draft to get their guy).
AJ thinks that Matthews is special player that has all the skills to help this team win a championship (good size and speed, is a blocker, has good hands coming out of the back field, good character and work ethic).
Didn't think Matthews would be there at #28, they liked different running backs that went throughout the draft but felt that Matthews was the only complete back and could help elevate them to the next level so it was worth it to give up the #40 pick to get him.
AJ likes the Chargers team as it stands right now, but he understands that is up for debate that goes on forever. The Chargers like their team and feels like they need to play better.
AJ thinks that the Chargers will run a 3-4 base defense next year, although there are interchangeable parts but he really does not know what they will run next year because it is all up to the coaches. AJ has no say in how the coaches run the team.
In regards to the Jeff Ireland / Dez Bryant situation - AJ understands why Jeff Ireland asked the question to Dez Bryant, but he would not have asked the question. He knows Jeff well and thinks he is a stand up guy but he just made a mistake, which he admitted to and apologized for.
The Chargers are very pleased with the character of this incoming draft class overall.
Chargers are patient with players and like to let them develop. He hopes Butler and Stuckey will have an impact on special teams this year, Cam Thomas should be in the defensive line rotation with OG and Garay (Chargers are very high on both), Crompton will go down the same road as clipboard Jesus and Epps should be the third sting TE.
AJ thinks Tebow will be the Bronco's will be future QB, but didn't think much else of the pick.
AJ wouldn't comment on the players that other teams selected.
No progress has been made on signing any of the RFA.
AJs favorite part of being a GM is calling players on draft day you tell them that they have been selected.