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Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Will we see another San Diego surprise?

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

One of the more difficult draft minds to predict belongs to San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith.

Smith has made plenty of first-round picks made by that have been under the radar. Few expected him to take Illinois defensive end Corey Liuget last season or Northern Illinois pass-rusher Larry English in 2009.

Don’t be surprised if Smith springs another surprise this year with the Chargers' No. 18 pick.

A lot of people (myself included) think the Chargers will take a pass-rusher such as Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, Syracuse’s Chandler Jones or USC’s Nick Perry or an offensive lineman such as Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn.

But I think it would be a mistake to simply think in such a limited scope.

If Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd is available, I could see him being the choice despite the heavy focus on receivers in free agency. Floyd is a special talent and the Chargers like him.

San Diego could also draft a cornerback such as Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick or South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore. Cornerback isn’t a major need area, but if the Chargers like a certain player there, a case could be made.

I know the Chargers like their inside linebackers, so maybe Smith will nab Alabama’s Dont'a Hightower. Why can’t an impact defender be a classic inside 3-4 linebacker?

What does this all mean?

We’re dealing with Smith and that means everything is on the table, pressing needs or not.