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Swan song?

In rumored last draft as GM, Beathard lands safety

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Posted: Sunday April 16, 2000 03:26 PM

  Bobby Beathard traded away the Chargers' No. 1 pick two years ago for Mikhael Ricks. Stephen Dunn/Allsport

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- If this is Bobby Beathard's final draft as general manager of the San Diego Chargers, he wasn't even tempted to trade away next year's first-round pick.

With plenty of rumors swirling about his future, Beathard took Marshall free safety Rogers Beckett with the 12th pick in the second round on Saturday, the 43rd pick overall.

Beathard generally disdains No. 1 picks, and was without one for the sixth time in seven years. He traded this year's first-rounder to Tampa Bay during the 1998 draft in order to move up in the second round and take wide receiver Mikhael Ricks.

When it came time for the Chargers to make their pick some 6 1/2 hours into the draft, they chose Beckett, of Apopka, Fla., over offensive tackle Adrian Klemm of Hawaii.

Beckett truly fills a need, because the Chargers would be hard-pressed to fill out a two-deep at safety right now. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll become a starter, because the Chargers still hope to re-sign free agents Michael Dumas and Greg Jackson. Strong safety Rodney Harrison, a Pro Bowler in 1998, is coming off a shoulder injury that cost him 10 games.

Chargers First-Round Draft Picks
Year  Player  Pos  School 
2000  No pick       
1999  No pick       
1998  Ryan Leaf  QB  Washington State  
1997  No pick       
1996  No pick       
1995  No pick       
1994  No pick       
1993  Darrien Gordon  CB  Stanford 
1992  No pick       
1992  Chris Mims  DE  Tennessee 
1991  Stanley Richard  Texas 
1990  Junior Seau  LB  Southern California 
1989  Burt Grossman  DE  Pittsburgh 
1988  Anthony Miller  WR  Tennessee 
1987  No pick       
1987  Rod Bernstine  TE  Texas A&M  
1986  Leslie O'Neal  DE  Oklahoma State  
1986  James Fitzpatrick  Southern California  
1985  Jim Lachey  Ohio State 
1984  Mossy Cade  CB  Texas 
1983  Billy Ray Smith  LB  Arkansas  
1983  Gary Anderson  RB  Arkansas  
1983  Gil Byrd  CB  San Jose State 
1982  No pick       
1981  James Brooks  RB  Auburn 
1980  No pick       
1979  No pick       
1979  Kellen Winslow  TE  Missouri  
1978  John Jefferson  WR  Arizona State 
1977  No pick       
1977  Bob Rush  Memphis State  
1976  Joe Washington  RB  Oklahoma 
1975  Gary Johnson  DT  Grambling 
1975  Mike Williams  CB  Louisiana State  
1974  Bo Mathews  RB  Colorado 
1974  Don Goode  LB  Kansas  
1973  No pick       
1973  Johnny Rodgers  WR  Nebraska  
1972  No pick       
1971  Leon Burris  RB  Long Beach State 
1970  Walker Gillette  WR  Richmond 
Since 1970

"But this gives us a big, strong, fast safety to go along with Rodney and Jason Perry," Beathard said. "It was really a pretty easy and unanimous opinion of all the [player personnel] people and all the coaches and scouts."

With various schemes to play, as well as special teams, the Chargers will have plenty of work for Beckett.

In their final game last year, the Chargers had only five healthy defensive backs, meaning they couldn't play a dime defense.

"That's why I really hoped it would be a versatile, fast guy that strengthens our team in many ways," said coach Mike Riley, who was 8-8 in his rookie season. "I think we'll get a lot of football out of this guy."

The Chargers plan to groom Beckett at free safety, but say he can play both positions.

Beckett's speed was questioned after he ran the 40 in 4.62 seconds at the scouting combine. He said he ran a 4.4 at an on-campus workout.

Beckett said he's heard the questions about his speed.

"I'm not going to let that be an obstacle in my way. I'm going to go out there and play every play as hard as I can and bust my butt getting to the ball," he said. Beckett finished third with 77 tackles for the undefeated Thundering Herd, who finished 13-0 after beating Brigham Young in the Motor City Bowl. He had four interceptions and broke up six other passes. He had 311 tackles and 11 interceptions in his career.

Beathard said the Chargers had no intention of trading away next year's first-round pick.

"It's a nice thought to have a No. 1 next year," Beathard said.

But the big question is whether Beathard will be around to use it.

"I'll talk about that later. I don't know," he said.

The buildup to this draft has been accompanied by plenty of speculation about Beathard's future. Some rumors have Beathard retiring after the draft. Others have him leaving sometime later, maybe after the minicamp at the end of April.

Beathard, 63, built three Super Bowl teams with Washington in the 1980s and put together San Diego's only Super Bowl team, in 1994.

Beathard said he discusses his future each year with team president Dean Spanos, "and this year will be no different."

Spanos is no more definitive about his GM's future.

"It sounds like he's not sure what he wants to do," Spanos said. "I don't think he'll do anything for a while."

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