To truly understand and evaluate the 2007 Chargers Draft, you must first come to grips with the 2007 roster heading into that April. This was a luxury draft for San Diego. They were a 14-2 team and realistically could have selected 0 players in 2007 and still gotten the 11-5 record they obtained in 2007-2008 campaign. Yes, they were that deep.
2007 Chargers Draft
Addressing The Elephant In The (War) Room
Craig "Buster" Davis. Did you cringe? With the 30th pick in the draft, the Chargers selected Buster Davis (C-) out of LSU. To this day, it still sickens me that Joe Staley and Ben Grubbs were taken RIGHT before this pick.
But I am going to be honest, when the pick was made, I saw a lot of positives in it. Newly–hired Coach Turner needed someone to divert attention away from Tomlinson and Gates, who had almost 200 targets in the passing game combined. Vincent Jackson finally caught our eye with 6 TDs, and the thought of adding a triple–threat WR to the mix made a whole bunch of sense at the time.
Craig was a productive player in college. He wasn't great at anything but did a lot of things well. He returned punts for LSU, he played in the slot and was well–known for being their go–to guy on third downs. The 2007 draft was deep in regard to receivers but only Ted Ginn Jr (#9 pick) could match the diversity Davis could bring to a team. Unfortunately for both parties, Davis just could never stay healthy, eventually hampering his growth.
He played in 14 games his rookie year (20 catches, 188 yards, 1 TD) but only 4 games the next year. His 2009 campaign was a one–game stint where he showed some of what he can do (6 catches, 52 yards + 1 rush for 4 yards). His last season in San Diego saw some improvement but also more time in the training room. His stats were awfully similar to his rookie year (21 catches, 259 yards, 1TD) but he did it in just 7 games instead of 14. He was making real football progress, just couldn't shake the injury bug.
The Gamble that Paid Off
The San Diego Chargers roster in 2007 was loaded with talent and eventual Pro-Bowlers. The Chargers didn't NEED anything. So, the 2007 draft was the perfect time for the Chargers to take a risk on an exceptional talent. The risk included swapping second–round picks with Chicago, sacrificing the 3rd and 5th round pick in the same draft and handing over the 3rd–round pick in the ensuing draft. The result: our future, Eric Weddle (A).
"..That's an awful lot to give up. They're telling us they don't need all those other draft picks (because of the talent already on the roster)." - Mel Kiper
Chicago, who at the time seemed like they got away with robbery, ended up with Dan Bazuin (?), Garrett Wolfe, Kevin Payne and Marcus Harrison. Laughable.
The Chargers would do that trade 100x over if they could. Eric Weddle, the 3x All-Pro Player, has not only become the best football player currently on the San Diego Chargers, but is now widely–recognized as the top Free Safety in the entire league. He is easily in the top 7-8 players to come out of this draft - obviously behind Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Joe Staley and Joe Thomas, Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis.
When it's all said and done, and analysts look back on this draft, they will mention that 31 teams made a huge mistake on passing him up. This gamble absolutely paid off.
The "True" Head–Scratcher
The Chargers gave up their third–round pick but still had a compensatory pick handy. Jamal Williams was getting up there in age and DT Paul Soliai was sitting there waiting to be picked. Donnie Edwards was just released and there was a pretty productive ILB there for the Chargers to take, Linebacker Stephen Nicholas.
Of course, they decided to use it on Clemson Linebacker Anthony Waters (D-).
A.J. Smith was pressing his luck here. He just scored with Cromartie, who too missed the football year before the draft. He was totally looking to once again shut the league up. Unfortunately for the Chargers, it didn't pan out the same way.
Anthony Waters missed his rookie campaign and had a monumental total of 3 tackles during his Tenure in San Diego. He was cut before the 2009 campaign even began and bounced around the league after that. A shame given he was 6'3, ran a 4.6 40 yard dash, benched 35 reps, and had a vertical of 35". His performance in a Chargers uniform warranted an F, yes, but I upgraded it because it sure was a fun thought of adding him to that LB corps.
More Late–Round Magic by Smith
The Fourth and Fifth rounds netted the Chargers receiving options: TE Scott Chandler out of Iowa and WR Legedu Naanee out of Boise State.
Chandler (D+), the 6-7 Tight End just never got the opportunity in San Diego and now we all get to see him use that 6'7" frame over in Buffalo where he caught 43 balls for 571 yards and 6 TDs last year. How the staff couldn't fit him in somehow still puzzles me to this day. He didn't give San Diego anything statistically but that doesn't mean he isn't a good player or it couldn't have been a productive pick. Just no real shot.
The Chargers' fifth–round pick actually got an opportunity and produced in his given role. Legedu Naanee (B+) gave the Chargers 63 receptions for 754 yards and 3 Touchdowns before moving on to Carolina. Naanee was a solid special–teamer (27 tackles) in San Diego before playing his way into being a cog in the offense. Only a handful of teams got a lot out of their fifth round pick from 2007; this pick kept A.J.'s hot streak going.
To close out the 2007 NFL Draft, the Chargers Selected ILB Brandon Siler. How A.J. Smith continued to find players like him in later rounds is something I'll always be puzzled by. Siler (A) played in 58 out of a possible 64 games for the Chargers, not bad for the 240th pick. He not only made the roster but made his way on to field in spite of the amount of linebacker talent ahead of him. Brandon eventually moved on to rival Kansas City only after giving the Chargers 123 tackles and 3 sacks.