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The Chargers defense last season was ranked 20th in the league for average rushing yards allowed and 13th for passing yards allowed, making them unusually less productive than in years past.
We're talking about a defense that used to be ranked first defensively in the NFL just two short years ago, but now opposing offenses are having their way in the running and passing game. The defensive line was awful at getting pressure on the quarterback last year as most of the team's 32 sacks came from linebackers and the secondary.
At the defensive end position the Chargers are looking to make big changes as rumors of Luis Castillo taking a pay cut or being released have begun to arise. Castillo was productive initially, but injuries have slowed his career and may be his downfall in San Diego. First-year player Corey Liuget had a quiet season with 19 tackles and just one sack which may be a good reason to acquire more talent in a draft filled with talented pass-rushers.
If the Chargers are serious about adding a pass-rusher with big upside, then they may want to move up in the draft in order to make a play for marquee players like Quinton Coples out of the University of North Carolina or Melvin Ingram from the University of South Carolina.
Both guys have tremendous upside and could make an early impact for their respective teams, but if the Chargers choose to remain at the 18th slot then prospects like Nick Perry out of the University of Southern California and Jared Crick from the University of Nebraska will still be solid pickups.
Perry is a front runner at 18 if other top defensive ends have been taken already, but don't count out Crick as a possible fit. Before his season was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle, Crick was a projected future first-round pick after producing two huge season with Nebraska in 2009 and 2010.
Crick averaged a little over 70 tackles and 9.5 sacks before his season-ending injury. The Chargers will have to choose whether they take a chance on a guy who was once one of college football's top pass-rushers or go with Perry who is a little younger and underdeveloped but has a high ceiling in the NFL.