NFL News of April 7, 2004

Opinions vary on which of the franchise quarterbacks (Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) or big-play receivers (Roy Williams and Larry Fitzgerald) should go first. Cases can be made for the cornerstone left tackle (Robert Gallery), game-changing defender (Sean Taylor) and a second-coming tight end (Kellen Winslow Jr.) as well.

But there is no debating that the San Diego Chargers had better not mess up their first-round pick—the No. 1 overall selection, by the way—the way they’ve done for the better part of the past 10 years.

…Under former general manager Bobby Beathard, the Chargers didn’t have a first-round pick from 1994-97, nor in ’99 and 2000. Beathard made a practice out of trading future first-rounders when he saw players he liked still on the board in the second rounds. Those swaps netted immortals such as cornerback Terrence Shaw, running back Terrell Fletcher and receivers Bryan Still and Mikhael Ricks.

There also was the selection of quarterback Ryan Leaf.

—Chris Harry, The Orlando Sentinel “Chargers need a jolt: Manning should be their choice”

After Manning made it known that he would not sign with the Chargers, the Chargers traded Manning (the #1 pick) to the Giants for Philip Rivers (#4 overall pick), a 2004 third rounder (K Nate Kaeding) and the Giants’ 2005 first round pick (Shawne Merriman).

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