After all the rumors mock drafts, expert reports, fan speculation, and the opinions of supposed "gurus" the San Diego Chargers selected a linebacker, just not the one most thought they would.
Prior to April 25th most speculated that the Chargers would select Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga, with running backs Chris "Beanie" Wells out of Ohio State and Knowshon Moreno, as well as LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson, as afterthoughts.
However Chargers GM A.J. Smith made yet another surprise pick, marking the third straight year that Smith had "reached" on a player, selecting Northern Illinois LB/DE Larry English with the 16th pick overall.
English was just as surprised as everyone else when his name was called, as he had not made a visit to San Diego or even talked with San Diego since the combine prior to Saturday. The Chargers, who have All Pro Shawne Merriman and a very good player in Shaun Phillips did not figure to select another OLB with already having two reliable starters.
However the Chargers pass rush struggled collecting only 28 sacks last year with Shawne Merriman missing all but one game due to injury and Shaun Phillips facing extra attention because of it. English, who was one of the top pass rushers in the draft, figures to make an immediate impact.
English will most likely play as an outside linebacker in the Chargers 3-4 defense, although conflicting reports out of SD have stated that he will play as the defensive end in front of Shawne Merriman. Either way Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will play with his defense, trying to get all three of his pass rushers on at the same time.
As for the other Chargers draft prospects, two were selected by division rivals.Tyson Jackson soared up mock drafts in recent days as he was selected 3rd overall by the Kansas City Chiefs and Knowshon Moreno was a similar surprise as he was chosen by the Denver Broncos with the twelfth pick. Wells and Maualuga both plummeted as Wells was chosen 31st by the Arizona Cardinals while Maualuga fell out of the first round completely, as he was selected 38th overall by the Bengals.
The Chargers did not have a second round pick and did not make another first day pick. The Chargers have seven picks tomorrow, with one third round pick, three in the fourth, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh. The Chargers will mostly target lineman on both sides of the ball, as well as a safety and perhaps both an inside linebacker and running back.