Smith says NFL draft 'Going to be something else to watch.'

San Diego ChargersSportsFootballNFL DraftAFC WestVincent JacksonPeyton Manning

SAN DIEGO -- Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith reminded me that April is “Liar’s Month.” It’s particularly true when it comes to the NFL Draft which kicks off on Thursday, April 26.

Nevertheless, I felt it my duty to ask him who, or even which position, the Chargers have targeted with their first-round pick.

“Even if you came in the day before the draft, I wouldn't really tell you anyway,” Smith said. “But it takes that long to get it done.”

Smith said the Chargers have not decided on who they will take with their first pick. For the second year in a row, the Chargers will pick 18th. Last year, they selected defensive end Corey Liuget from Illinois with that pick.

After finishing tied for 23rd in the NFL with just 32 sacks last season, it would appear that Smith might lean towards the defense again.

"I've constantly said, since I've been here, defense is priority number one,” Smith said. “Until we fix the defense, I've been on record saying, we're not going to win a championship. We need to solidify a constant, wild, reckless-abandoned, dominating, dictating defense on a consistent basis throughout the course of the year. We've struggled to do that."

Another clue that the Chargers might draft a defensive player with their first pick: They have signed 16 free agents so far, 12 on the offensive side of the ball - including four wide receivers.

"Our goal was, and my goal was, if Vincent Jackson is not here, I don't want one receiver, we're going to try to get two receivers,” Smith said. “We think Vincent was a great player and had a great impact here. We don't want to lose sight of that offense that we have at all.”

Smith has also kept an eye on the moves made by the three other AFC West division teams, and realizes this draft will have a key impact on how the Chargers compete in 2012.

"One of the greatest quarterbacks (Peyton Manning) of all time is now in our division with Denver, so the bar has been raised high in our division to compete,” Smith said. “So yeah, it's got my attention and a lot of us around here. We're going to have to do a heck of a job to bring in some very good players and hopefully maintain our health, which is also the key to success. This is going to be something else to watch.”

With nothing else to lose, I figured I'd ask one more time: who will the Chargers take with their first pick in the draft?

"I don't know now, but when I do, you'll be the first person I call, to let you know,” Smith said with a chuckle and smile. “It'll just be between me and you.”

Remember, Smith did say April is Liar’s Month.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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San Diego ChargersSportsFootballNFL DraftAFC WestVincent JacksonPeyton Manning
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