Heading into the 2003 NFL Draft, the Chargers were coming off a 8-8 season under Marty Schottenheimer where they finished 3rd in the AFC West and missed the playoffs entirely. Second-year quarterback Drew Brees struggled in his first season as a starter, throwing 17 touchdowns to 16 interceptions so the offense was unsurprisingly led by LaDainian Tomlinson who rushed for just under 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns.
With defensive stalwarts like Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison on the wrong side of 30, linebacker Donnie Edwards stepped up and had one of the best years of his career, snagging five interceptions and leading the team with 129 total tackles.
The Chargers ended up picking 15th in the 2003 NFL Draft but opted to trade back to pick #30 and draft cornerback Sammy Davis. With the other pick, the Bolts also picked up safety Terrence Kiel. In a recent re-draft exercise by Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, he believes the Chargers would have ended up with offensive guard Kris Dielman, who was originally signed by the Chargers as an undrafted free agent.
“If (the Chargers) could do it all again, they’d stand pat and take Troy Polamalu or Antonio Gates,” said Gagnon. “But with both of those studs long gone, they can at least grab another one of their undrafted success stories from 2003.”
Dielman spent his entire nine-year career with the Chargers from 2003-2011. He started 97 games and made the Pro Bowl four-straight years from ‘07-’10. During his six-year prime from ‘05-’10, Dielman missed just three games total and was one of the key presences along that offensive line that helped Tomlinson achieve all his records with the Bolts.
“The Chargers, of course, did not win a Super Bowl during the Dielman era, and it would be even harder without Gates. But Dielman helped them win five division titles, so the smart move would be to reclaim him.”
Players like wide reciever Anquan Boldin, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, and cornerback Marcus Trufant all went later in the first round and all would have been huge gets for the Chargers, but seeing how the offensive line has turned out since Dielman’s retirement, I’m completely okay with them grabbing him in the first like this.