Another ego pick for Smith, the so-called draft-day genius passed on such noteworthy players as Hakeem Nicks, Clay Matthews and Percy Harvin to take Larry English from Northern Illinois. Now I know it is not really fair to do this game of hindsight, but it is difficult not to when you track their career paths with English’s.
A rookie season filled with promise after posting 36 tackles and two sacks quickly deteriorated these last two years as he was only able to play in a combined 13 games due to injury. The linebacker has tried hard to get back to the field as quickly as possible, but it seems he cannot escape the stigma of being “injury prone."
The Chargers' linebacker play over the years has always been dependable, but inglorious. They have never been a group to make monster plays or set schemes to get to the quarterback. They generally play a cover-type defense, preventing any big plays by the offense and slowing down aggressive attacks.
This is partly by design, but mostly because of the lack of talent at the position. English is meant to be that dynamic player who adds a bit of intrigue just behind the line. Big enough to shed off blockers and fast enough to stay with tight ends, he should act as a sort of “wild card,” jumping around to confuse the offense.
English must first and foremost get and stay healthy for the entire season. He is an excellent talent that could be a smart pick by the end of his career, but only if he is able to stay on the field.
Once he gets into shape, he has to by the dynamic player the Chargers have always lacked. He alone can do enough to confuse the offense into shooting themselves in the foot, committing turnovers and foolish penalties.
If he can, that defense should be a lot more exciting to watch this season.