INDIANAPOLIS – It's a trade that could easily send personnel decision makers into unemployment.
Hit on the risky trade though and you could drastically change an organization's future for the better.
In 2001, Jimmy Raye III was in his second season as the Director of College Scouting for the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers were coming off a 1-15 season and held the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.
One of the most unique and dynamic quarterbacks in college football history was waiting for the Chargers, a team in desperate need for a franchise player under center.
Here's Raye walking you through the process.
"The guys we went to visit during that draft process were Drew Brees and Michael Vick," Raye said in re-telling the story to Colts.com last year. "We actually made an on-campus visit, spent time with them, had a meal with them. Norv Turner was our offensive coordinator at the time. He went through the whole chalk talk and an installation, putting those guys through the mental paces. We kind of went through the process that way and tried to really distinguish between the two guys."
Raye gave his vote of confidence for the shorter Brees, coming from a pass-happy collegiate offense. But taking Brees at No. 1 overall wouldn't be the best draft value.
"As the process went along, we started to believe that we could get better by picking two guys instead of, really, one," Raye said referring to the No. 1 pick.
"We thought LaDainian Tomlinson was the best running back in the draft that year, and with Drew, after visiting with him and seeing his mental aptitude and how sharp he was...We just thought he had an 'it' factor about him."
On the day before the 2001 NFL Draft, the Chargers pulled the trigger on a trade that would result in one of the greatest draft hauls in league history.
Moving back to the 5th overall spot, the draft position previously held by the Atlanta Falcons, the Chargers selected Tomlinson, who is expected to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this year.
Now the waiting began. Would Brees last until the top of the second round?
"(Brees) might have only been six-feet tall and all those other things," Raye said about the questions on the Purdue quarterback. "People kind of downgraded him on his physical ability, from a height standpoint, but it's almost like a Russell Wilson and guys you see now. "When all the boxes can be checked and add up for a guy to be a really good player, and he's going to be the first guy in the building and the last guy to leave, it pretty much made it easy for us."
Trading out of the No. 1 pick with Vick on the board was heavily scrutinized, but Raye and the Chargers got the last laugh with future Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees.
Ask Raye about his time in San Diego and he points to lesser-known finds.
Undrafted products turned into Pro Bowlers, namely Antonio Gates, Darren Sproles and Kris Dielman is something Raye continues to be proud of.
"I've taken a lot of pride in the college free agency process throughout my career," Raye says. "It's an area where you can mine for overlooked players that can fortify your roster. In San Diego, we established an NFL record for the most consecutive years that a college free agent made the 53-man roster. That's one of the things I'm most proud of in my career. We've continued the same tradition here in Indianapolis."
From the front end of the roster, to the back, Raye has helped positively shape the direction of an organization's future before.
Will he get that chance to make such a move (or two) with the Colts in 2017?
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