Even before the Chargers officially began the search for a new GM, director of player personnel Jimmy Raye III was the assumed front-runner. We had heard from a daily team observer that the Spanos family is hardly a fan of change, and would want to keep some stability by promoting Raye.
While Raye was a serious candidate, the Chargers went in a different direction, hiring Tom Telesco, who, at age 40, is the franchise’s youngest general manager. Dean Spanos and Telesco both mentioned the desire for Raye to stay on staff.
As for Telesco, he brings to San Diego a young but experienced mind when it comes to personnel, and quite the résumé after 15 seasons with the Colts, a beacon of stability and success. The Colts went from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 in ’12, thanks in large part to a successful draft class.
“(Telesco) was just so unbelievable in his transition,” Colts GM Ryan Grigson told PFW. “… I had to trust him with the reins of my baby, the scouting process — pro and college — and that was something that required an incredible amount of trust. I wanted to look at every player before we signed him — or create the pool of players to look at — but I didn't have the time anymore. And I'll tell you what — he came through like no other.”
Building through the draft will be Telesco’s big focus in San Diego, and certainly an area the franchise could improve upon.
“As far as philosophy-wise, we’re going to be a draft-driven organization. That’s going to be our main focus,” Telesco told reporters at his introductory press conference.
Telesco explained that the ability to work on college players for “almost 13 months” gives the team a leg up compared to free agency.
The Chargers have found some key players in the draft during A.J. Smith’s regime, but his track record in that department was spotty. First-round picks since 2004 Buster Davis, Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo and Antonio Cromartie are no longer with the club. With several starters approaching free agency — including both starting cornerbacks, inside linebackers and offensive guards — it’s good timing for Spanos to bring in someone like Telesco who is focused on the draft.
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