The draft is the key to everything.
Think about it, what propelled the Chiefs from one of the league's worst teams to 2010 AFC West Championship? It wasn't Scott Pioli (entirely). It was Eric Berry (Drafted in 2010) and Jamaal Charles (2008). What propelled the Broncos from a laughingstock under Josh McDaniels to 2011 AFC West Championship? Von Miller (2011) and Tim Tebow (2010).
They keys to those teams, their super stars, are right now in the middle or on the cusp of the prime of their careers. The superstars on the Chargers are coming up on the end of their prime. A.J. Smith's strategy to build through the draft, and not hold on to mediocre players for fear of being able to replace them with younger talent, is a good one. However, it requires you to draft well.
Smith's recent draft history is not a great one. We all know that. Mostly due to injury, the players that should be the new superstars of this team (Larry English, 2009 and Ryan Mathews, 2010) have not yet reached their potential. For English, he's barely reached the minimum requirements to remain in the NFL. This is probably the biggest reason that the Chargers, and Norv Turner, have missed the playoffs the last two season.
But the draft giveth just like it taketh away, so let's hope that another playmaker can be added to the roster this year and that Ryan Mathews can become the player we've only seen flashes of. If both of those things happen, and they can, the Chargers will again be able to compete for the division crown.
As always, music video after the jump and whatever you want in the comments (including comments from the College basketball finals).
Gomez - Get Myself Arrested (via emimusic)