SAN DIEGO (AP) — After spending their first three picks on players expected to help address their defensive shortcomings, the San Diego Chargers spent the last day of the NFL draft loading up on offensive backups.
The Chargers took tight end Ladarius Green of Louisiana-Lafayette in the fourth round Saturday, Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman in the fifth round, All-American center David Molk of Michigan in the seventh round and Michigan State running back Edwin Baker with a compensatory pick.
"All those guys can compete to add depth on the roster," said player personnel director Jimmy Raye.
The Chargers, who had a big free agent haul, needed a strong draft as they look to end a slide that's left them out of the playoffs two straight seasons. They have only one playoff win in four seasons.
They spent their first three picks on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram of South Carolina, defensive end Kendall Reyes of Connecticut and LSU strong safety Brandon Taylor. They are expected to add some impact to a defense that was the NFL's worst on third down.
"I can honestly say we've been excited the last couple of years, but we have a great feeling coming out of this draft particularly," said Raye, who becomes the public face of the front office during the draft. "We feel like we've gotten better. We've added some speed, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Guys will make a push for playing time, and we've added great depth. All the guys have a legitimate chance of coming in and making our football team."
Team president Dean Spanos brought back coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith despite an 8-8 finish last season and 9-7 the previous year.
"We're improved as a football team," Turner said Saturday. "We've missed the playoffs by a game each of the last two years. The starting point is to get back and win the division. I know the mindset is, 'Oh, get back to the playoffs,' but I want to get in the playoffs and be a team that has great success in the playoffs."
Smith, who stopped holding news conferences during the draft several years ago, didn't return a call seeking comment.
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