2011 NFL Draft: 6 First Round Options for Chargers
The San Diego Chargers once again failed to meet high expectations with a 9-7 season.
For a talented roster that finished first in both total offense and defense, missing out on the playoffs was disappointing. Their inability to perform well on special teams and in close games ultimately was the downfall of the team.
The Chargers draft needs is a short list. A rush linebacker will probably be their most important priority, with Larry English's disappointing career. Shaun Phillips had 11 sacks last season, but will need a capable complement.
The defensive line needs a solid five-technique (defensive end) with Jacques Cesaire aging and declining.
Offensively, the Chargers are set with weapons, especially if they can manage to keep one of the best receivers, Vincent Jackson. A right tackle will be needed though, with Jeromey Clary struggling.
So, here are the options for the Chargers at pick No. 18:
OT Nate Solder
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Solder is regarded by many as the top offensive tackle coming out of the draft and is a monster at 6'8", 315 pounds.
Solder is agile and quick with his feet, making him one of the most athletic offensive lineman in the draft. He can solidly move laterally to defeat a speed rusher.
Though his footwork needs a little work, Solder is a fine technician, that will excel as a pass-blocker.
He does not have a mean streak like other offensive lineman in the class like Gabe Carimi, but can drive the defender back in run blocking.
Solder can get off balance especially if a strong pass rushing move is made, but he has shown he is athletic to generate enough strength to push the defensive end out of the quarterback's plain sight.
LB Akeem Ayers
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While Ayers played in a 4-3 system as an outside linebacker at UCLA, he can certainly pass rush a 3-4 OLB. In fact many experts believe that Ayers best attribute at UCLA was his pass rushing abilities.
Ayers had a great senior campaign, recording 68 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. In his sophomore and junior year, he racked up a total of 141 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, six interceptions, and four forced fumbles.
His NFL combine numbers were not too strong, (4.80 40-yard dash, 18 bench press reps, 7.49 three-cone drill) but he plays much faster on tape than in workouts.
Ayers has 14 career sacks, but uses more of his athleticism to get to the quarterback, not any pass rushing moves.
He must use his hands more, but can use his long arms to get by offensive lineman. Ayers uses his explosive first step as his only way to get to the quarterback.
If Ayers can become more physical, his unique blend of size and explosiveness could be a perfect fit in the Chargers 3-4 defense.
DE Muhammad Wilkesron
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Wilkerson was a standout at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, coming at 6'4'', 315 pounds while still running a 4.99 in the 40-yard dash. He bench-pressed 27 times and has 35 1/4'' arms. Wilkerson has been quickly rising up many draft boards.
In his junior season, the 21-year-old Wilkerson recorded 68 tackles (43 solo) and 10 sacks, an astounding number for a defensive tackle, even if it was against inferior competition.
Wilkerson can be a perfect in the Chargers 3-4 as a five-technique. He has a great burst off the line and is athletic to move around on the line.
Wilkerson can shed blockers and take on double teams and will make plays in the backfield.
OT Anthony Costanzo
Costanzo is a tall lineman at 6'7'', and is a great pass protector.
With a large wingspan, it is hard for defenders to get by him.
He could start at right tackle, even if his run blocking needs improvement.
Costanzo relies on his great technique to gain leverage on his opponents. He is not too athletic but consistently bends his knee.
He plays balanced and with long arms and quick lateral movements, Costanzo can be a top tackle in the league.
LB Brooks Reed
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Reed is flying up draft boards and is being hailed as this year's Clay Matthews.
In fact, he had the fastest 10-yard split at combine, and only second all-time to Matthews.
Reed would fit as an edge rusher and has developed numerous pass rushing moves to be a solid complement to Phillips.
Reed is a high motor guy, and like Matthews, will never give up on a play.
He can get low to the ground and gain leverage on the offensive lineman and possesses solid pass rushing moves to keep the lineman off balance.
Reed will occasionally bull rush and it is a tenacious player, one who is always around the ball. His football instincts allow him to drop back in coverage even though he has played on the defensive line his entire life.
DE Cameron Jordan
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The 6'4,'' 287-pound Jordan is a the generic 3-4 defensive end. Jordan is a three down defensive lineman, as he could be another piece in improving an already elite pass rush.
He is very quick, running a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash and is disruptive in the run game, using his leverage to shed blockers.
At California, Jordan was a staple in the 3-4, recording 51 tackles, six sacks and a forced fumble.
His instincts are one of his greatest assets and he is a disciplined and sound tackler. Jordan has a unique ability of reading and reacting quickly to make the correct play.
He has a relentless motor and one of the quickest first steps in a defensive lineman.
With long arms, Jordan can wrap up tacklers and can push offensive lineman out of the way.