Saturday, April 2, 2011

An In-Depth Look at the Men Behind the Curtain: NFL GM’s

A.J Smith: Rhode Island Genius

The fact that A.J Smith is a top 5 talent evaluator comes as no suprise considering his upbringing. A Graduate of Bishop Hendriken in Warwick Rhode Island, Smith was a standout at both Football and Track (probably the hammer). Smith was a Wide Receiver in college (suprising considering that is not his strong suit when it comes to drafting). During his career as GM of the chargers Smith takes big risks and rarely misses. Here is a breakdown of each of his drafts.


1. Eli Manning, QB, Ole Miss (Traded for Philip Rivers and Nate Kaeding)
2. Igor Olshansky, DT, Oregon
3. Nate Kaeding, K, Iowa
3. Nick Hardwick, C, Purdue
4. Shaun Phillips, OLD, Purdue
5. Dave Ball, DE, UCLA
5. Michael Turner, RB, Northern Illinois
6. Ryan Krause, WR, Nebraska-Omaha
7. Ryon Bingham, Nebraska
7. Shane Olivea, OT, Ohio State
7. Carlos Joseph, Miami (FL)
Undrafted Free Agent: Antonio Gates

Wow! A.J smith starts off his drafting career with the best top to bottom draft of all time. He makes the controversial decision to bend to Eli manning and decides to make a risky trade for a QB with a weird release. The result is a massive upgrade. Phillip Rivers becomes a top 5 QB while Manning is mediocre at best. The Cherry on top of this deal is Nate Kaeding, the Chargers starting kicker for years to come. After this trade smith aquires long term starters at DE, OLB, C, and OT. Shaun Phillips highlights this group as a 10+ sack guy coming off the edge. Oh yeah, Smith also picks up Micheal "the burner" Turner in the 5th. Turner turns out to be a top 10 back when he signs a deal with the Falcons. What makes this year the best ever is the aquisition of Gates, the best tight end in football, as an undrafted free agent. Dave Ball also lived my dream by being a D end with his twin brother Matt while at UCLA.


1. Shawn Merriman, OLB, Maryland
1. Luis Castillo, DE, Northwestern
2. Vincent Jackson, WR, Northern Colorado
4. Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State
5. Wesley Britt, Alabama
6. Wes Sims, OG, Oklahoma
7. Scott Mruczkowski, C, Bowling Green

Its hard to follow up the 2004 draft but Smith does just that with the superb group he brings in in 2005. Merriman has a short window but is DPOY and is the key piece to a dominant defense. Castillo proves that a positive steriod drug test is a good, not bad thing. He becomes a decade-long cog on the Chargers D-Line. If these 1st round picks are not enough, Smith brings in Vincent Jackson (pro bowl) and Darren Sproles (top 10 3rd down back) in the 2nd and 4th rounds respectively.

Starters: 4

1. Antonio Cramartie, DB, Florida State
2. Marcus McNeil, OT, Aurburn
3. Charlie Whitehurst, QB, Clemson
Nobody of note rounds 4-7

Smith's 2006 draft is not as deep as the two previous ones but is still incredibly solid. Cromartie is a massive gamble that pays off. He becomes a dynamic playmaker and a pro bowler. Although McNeil cries when he plays Richard Seymour he still is a top half LT. Whitehurst is currently in the mix for the starting QB job for the Seahawks.

Starters: 2
Pro-Bowlers: 1

1. Buster Davis, WR, LSU
2. Eric Weddle, S, Utah
Nobody of note 3-7

Worst draft thus far of Smith's career includes Brian Waters, a 3rd round bust. For the worst draft of a career though this isnt that bad. Davis busts out but Weddle becomes a 2011 second team all-pro safety.


1. Antoine Cason, DB, Arizona
2. Jacob Hester, FB/RB, LSU
5. Marcus Thomas, RB, UTEP
6. Dejuan Tribble, DB, BC
7. Corey Clark, DB, TA&M

2008 breaks Smith's 4 year streak of drafting a pro-bowler. Cason develops into a starter but does not live up to his Thorpe Award pedigree. Hester still runs like a Madden RB stuck on the turbo button unable to Juke, but provides valuable flexibility. I loved Tribble at BC but he did not pan out in the pros.


1. Larry English, OLB, Northern Illinois
3-7 nobody notable

I still have hopes for English who was a development project coming out of college. The rest of the draft was awful.


1. Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State,
Rounds 3-7 nobody of note

For the second straight year Smith chokes after the first round. Matthews, however, should develop into a top flight feature back given some time and carries.


Overall last 7 drafts : 18 Starter and 8 Pro-Bowlers.

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