Arkansas State's Ryan Carrethers brings his massive 337-pound build and brute strength to San Diego's defensive line.
At the scouting combine, Carrethers tied for third among defensive lineman with 32 reps on the bench press. He topped that number at his pro day with 34 and bested his 40-yard dash time of 5.74 in Indianapolis by running a 5.34, according to NFL.com.
Carrethers became a full-time starter for the Red Wolves during the 2012 season and registered 68 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. His breakout season came the following year, when he racked up 93 tackles with eight for loss and four sacks. Despite being only 6'1" with short arms (31 3/4"), he also managed to block two field goals in his final season, one of which helped secure his team's win in the GoDaddy Bowl against Ball State.
In need of another contributor to pair with Sean Lissemore and Kwame Geathers, the Chargers made Carrethers their top priority on Day 3, with no fourth-rounder in play.
Lissemore, who the team traded for in September of last year, didn't have the benefit of a full offseason with the Chargers in 2013, but the hope is he'll get just that now that Cam Thomas is no longer with the team.
In 15 games played last season, Lissemore had 24 tackles, two sacks and came away with a pick-six in Week 9 against the Washington Redskins. With a full offseason and a year's worth of experience in San Diego's system, I expect Lissemore to get some considerable playing time in 2014.
As for Carrethers, I see defensive coordinator John Pagano utilizing the rookie's strengths in the run game. He's big enough to command double-teams at the line of scrimmage, thus freeing up linebackers for easy tackles.
Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o had this luxury at Notre Dame, with Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt. In his rookie season, Te'o struggled to shed blocks without a true nose tackle to his advantage, but he gets that now with Carrethers coming in.
Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com highlighted Carrethers' strengths in his analysis:
Big and thick with outstanding weight-room strength -- maintains low body fat, squats a small house and bench-pressed 225 pounds 32 times at the combine. Has sheer mass and natural girth to dig in and hold his ground vs. double teams. Has a wrestling background and understands leverage. Has two-gap ability. Heavy tackler. Nice effort for a big man. Tough and durable. Solid personal and football character -- is devoted to his craft and has a professional approach to the game.
The Chargers haven't had much success at the defensive tackle position, but I believe Carrethers can separate himself from San Diego's last two draft choices at defensive tackle, Thomas and Vaughn Martin, who are no longer with the team. The added size and strength advantage should allow him to do more in the 3-4 even when he doesn't get the tackle. Carrethers' goal on defense will be to occupy blocks and force his way into running lanes.