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Chargers weak sister in AFC West

The San Diego Chargers finished 4-12 last season, getting the No. 3 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. For San Diego, 2015 was a bad dream only to be compounded by the dream of signing the eventual first-round selection of defensive end Joey Bosa.

It has been a rough stretch for a franchise that once routinely dominated the AFC West. From 2004-09, San Diego won the division in five of six seasons, but seemed to always sputter out in the postseason. Only once did Philip Rivers and Co. get to the AFC Championship Game, losing 21-12 to the undefeated New England Patriots.

Since the start of 2010, the Chargers have only made the postseason once. They have not had a season with double-digit wins in that span, either, showcasing their inability to put together stretches of success. For San Diego, the prospects of getting back into its old winning ways is a pipe dream in 2016.

While the Chargers are certainly better than their 4-12 record would indicate from a year ago, this is a roster with legitimate holes on both sides of the ball. The 2015 season was done in by injuries and bad drafting over the years, and this year stands to be no different. San Diego has already lost running back Branden Oliver and wide receiver Stevie Johnson for the year, along with having guard D.J. Fluker hobbled due to a balky ankle.

To reiterate the point in bad drafting, the Chargers are failing to keep up with their AFC West cohorts because of it. Since 2007, this is the complete list of first-round draft picks:

  • 2007: Craig “Buster” Davis, WR
  • 2008: Antoine Cason, CB
  • 2009: Larry English, LB
  • 2010: Ryan Mathews, RB
  • 2011: Corey Liuget, DE
  • 2012: Melvin Ingram, OLB
  • 2013: D.J. Fluker, OT/OG
  • 2014: Jason Verrett, CB
  • 2015: Melvin Gordon, RB
  • 2016: Joey Bosa, DE

Those nine players (with Bosa obviously notwithstanding) have accounted for exactly one Pro Bowl berth, with Mathews getting the nod in 2011. Davis, Cason and English were complete busts, while Mathews was never worth his draft slot. Liuget has turned into a very nice player, while Ingram finally posted a quality year in 2015 with 10 sacks. Fluker and Gordon have been underwhelming to this point, while Verrett has the look of a star.

Point being, the Chargers are not getting near enough out of the first round. This is where teams land superstars, and outside of Verrett’s potential, San Diego has failed miserably for a decade.

Because of those myriad errors, the Chargers are going to struggle in the West. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders are all capable of winning 10+ games. San Diego might be able to get to seven victories, but anything beyond that would be a stretch.

If general manager Tom Telesco can start hitting consistently on draft picks, the Chargers can become a winner. For now, that’s a long road ahead.

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