words by tosten burks

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Why I love AJ Smith

I don’t have analysis to offer, just admiration.¬†Following an AJ Smith draft is fun as shiz.

No one expected the Chargers to trade up into the top 15. Regardless of whether Ryan Matthews would have still been available at 28 (unlikely), or if waiting until 40 to snag LT’s heir in someone like Toby Gerhart would have been smarter (maybe, but it would also be less exciting), or if a DT like Terrence Cody would have been more fitting (all the nose tackles who were available at 28 would have been reaches), just the fact that Smith did the unexpected is what makes him such a success.

Smith is a great drafter. Read this Canepa column and the referenced PFT study if you don’t believe it.

He’s also a great entertainer. Smith does what he wants and he does it¬†unashamedly. He chooses scary, injury-prone talent freaks like Antonio Cromartie and draft day character cases like Luis Castillo and even players who flat out refuse to play for him. Would Philip Rivers’s story be as interesting if he hadn’t been the backup plan for an Eli Manning who felt so brash as to turn down the team who drafted him?

This year, Smith traded up in the first round, something he has never done before. And you know what? I’m not caught off guard at all. It might be a surprise that Smith broke precedent if not for the fact that Smith never sets precedents.

Everything he does on draft day is fresh and volatile and beautifully original. Whether Ryan Matthews becomes LaDainian Tomlinson or Jacob Hester does not matter right now.

Take this time to revel in Smith’s glorious, vainly anti-norm leadership. Because it is fun.