The San Diego Chargers moved up seven spots in a trade with the Miami Dolphins to select Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu. A move very familiar to GM Tom Telesco, who moved up in the second round of last year's draft to select Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
Considered to be the last true 3-4 outside linebacker on the board by NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, the Chargers parted with a fourth-rounder to select a player who holds Georgia Tech's record for career sacks (31.5).
Attaochu was very productive his last two seasons, putting up 69 tackles in 2012 and 45 in 2013. He also added 22.5 sacks during that time.
Attaochu played outside linebacker his first three seasons before making the move to defensive end in Ted Roof's 4-3 scheme at Georgia Tech in 2013, but he is primed to return to his former position in John Pagano's scheme.
ESPN's Todd McShay said Attaochu is "most underrated player in this entire draft." Is "late bloomer" as far as background goes but talented.— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) May 10, 2014
With Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson entering their mid-30s, the decision to inject some youth at the outside linebacker position was a smart one by San Diego. The Chargers pass rush was decimated last season with injuries to Dwight Freeney and Melvin Ingram, but Pagano will have his choice with Attaochu and both Freeney and Ingram slated to return in 2014.
I expect the newest addition on defense to play in a rotation with Freeney, Johnson and Ingram. Another bonus for Attaochu's position in San Diego will be the fact that he gets to learn from an iconic pass-rusher like Freeney.
Looking at some of his highlights, you'll see for yourself just how explosive Attaochu is off the line of scrimmage. Even when he gets cracked by a hard block he just keeps on coming and never quits on the play. That type of effort will be well liked by his new team, especially his defensive coaches.
Attaochu's scouting report courtesy of NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki reads as so:
Good burst off the snap. Heats up the edge and runs the arc. Quick inside move. Disruptive ability. Motor runs hot -- keeps coming after the quarterback and chases hard from the back side. Moves well laterally and can zone drop. Has experience in even and odd fronts, having played defensive end and stand-up linebacker. Power-leverage potential. Mature and intelligent. Cares about the game and prepares like a pro. Arrow pointing up (will be a 21-year-old rookie). Ran extremely well and registered a 37 1/2-inch vertical jump at his pro day.
In a division that includes future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, the need for a pass rush is key to surviving late in games. The final meeting with the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs lacked pressure on Manning, but the Chargers get that with Attaochu.
Chargers blogger Eric D. Williams of ESPN had nothing but good things to say about the pick:
The Chargers needed to add juice to an ailing pass rush that struggled to consistently get pressure on the quarterback last season. At 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds, Attaochu fits the bill. He’s athletic (4.59-second 40-yard dash time) and he’s productive, finishing as the leading pass-rusher in Georgia Tech history with 31.5 sacks. With aging pass-rushers in Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney, the Chargers needed a long-term answer at the position to pair with budding star Melvin Ingram.