Since being drafted with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, defensive end Corey Liuget has made his name known throughout the league.
Though he has yet to receive a Pro-Bowl nod, offensive coordinators know the name Cory Liuget.
The Chargers’ defense has lacked a true nose tackle for years and years; this has made Liuget’s job immeasurably more difficult, as he faces double-teams and chip blocks while already being engaged by an offensive lineman on the regular.
To put it quite simply — especially when you add in the fact that he has yet to have an impact player at the opposite defensive-end spot — Liuget’s job has been exponentially more difficult while opposing teams gameplan against the former Illinois’ defensive lineman.
General manager Tom Telesco used the 2016 offseason to provide Liuget with some serious help via free agency and the draft, adding former Seahawk Brandon Mebane at nose tackle and the No. 3 overall pick in the ’16 draft, defensive end Joey Bosa out Ohio State.
A defensive line featuring Liuget, Mebane and Bosa should automatically strike fear into the opponents that are on the schedule for this upcoming season.
Teams are going to be forced to pick their poison, so to speak: “Who the hell do we focus on when attempting to block the Chargers’ defensive line?”
For the time being, gone are the days of John Pagano’s unit forcing players like Sean Lissemore to play out of position at nose. Now that he is playing in Washington, the Bolts no longer need to force the issue of hoping that former Charger Kendall Reyes will return to his rookie playing days; you know, when he actually made an impact.
Though the Chargers are in a base-nickel package more than 60% of the time, the aforementioned players will still be manning spots along the team’s defensive line in multiple sets and schemes.
If Mebane is able to replicate the impact he had during his eight-year career with the Seahawks, and Bosa can live up to the hype of being the first non-quarterback selected in the 2016 draft, then Liuget will be freed up to make a ton of noise, forcing him into the mouths of media pundits all over the NFL.
A.J. Smith – Although I hated the pick at the time, you nailed it when you decided to take Liuget in the first round.
The fact that outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu are finding their ways into box scores helps give more credence to my thoughts. Ingram had a career-high 10.5 sacks in 2015, while Attaochu added six sacks of his own.
The 2015 addition of Denzel Perryman at inside linebacker further lends itself to further back up my point. Perryman immediately started blasting opposing players as soon as he was inserted into the starting lineup. His play and impact made the move to release Donald Butler an easy call.
The 2016 season will end with Corey Liuget being named to his first Pro Bowl.
Write it down and book it.
All this young man has needed was a “little help from his friends.”
He has now received said help and as long as the three defensive lineman listed above stay healthy, the sky’s the limit for this defensive unit.
The Bolts’ defense has solid depth along the defensive line in Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Tenny Palepoi and Damion Square.
The Chargers’ defense has improved dramatically on paper, but it is up to players like Liuget to take advantage of each and every opportunity in order to maximize the talent in place.
Don’t sleep on this Chargers’ defense in 2016.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The 2015 offseason was anything but enjoyable for Chargers fans. We here at BoltBlitz.com had covered all of the new stadium/relocation to Los Angeles talk, possible pre-draft trade of Philip Rivers, the unwillingness of the organization to work out a contract extension with Eric Weddle and the suspension of Antonio Gates.
It was all quite exhausting.
One of the things that bothered me the most, in addition to the aforementioned issues, was the fact that there are a large number of Chargers on the 2015 squad that are not under contract for next season, including Weddle, Gates, Floyd and Green.
After doing a little research, my fears were heightened when seeing the plethora of quality names who do not have deals for 2016.
Here are the explanations of each free-agent designation and other information you’ll need to understand about free agency.
Accrued season = Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
Franchise player (exclusive or nonexclusive) = The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.
An “exclusive” Franchise Player — not free to sign with another club — is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on April 19; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.
Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the “Cap Percentage Average,” for calculating the Required Tender for such a player:
The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years…; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year…(the “Cap Percentage Average”)…; or (B) 120 percent of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.
If a club extends a Required Tender to a “non-exclusive” Franchise Player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.
Transition player = A transition player has received a minimum offer of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.
A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.
* Unrestricted free agent = A player with four or more Accrued Seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
** Restricted free agent = He can negotiate with any club. If the Restricted Free Agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a “right of first refusal” on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. In addition, a player who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent may be designated by his old club as its Franchise Player or Transition Player.
*** Exclusive rights free agent = Such a player has no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team, provided, of course, that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player.
Here is a look at all of the Bolts that are in the final year of their contracts with the team, according to spotrac.com.
*UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- FS – Eric Weddle
- TE – Antonio Gates
- WR – Malcom Floyd
- RT – Joe Barksdale
- CB – Patrick Robinson
- QB – Kellen Clemens
- G – Johnnie Troutman
- DE – Kendall Reyes
- DL – Ricardo Mathews
- FB/TE – David Johnson
- TE – Ladarius Green
- OL – Chris Hairston
- TE – John Phillips
- C – J.D. Walton
**RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- SS – Jahleel Addae
- OL – Kenny Wiggins
*** EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:
- WR – Dontrelle Inman
- OLB – Cordarro Law
- OL – Tyreek Burwell
When looking at the offensive side of the ball, the entire tight end group is not under contract for 2016. Although it would make sense to bring back Green, his concussion problems may prevent the team from doing so. Phillips is primarily a blocking tight end, but he made a few plays during the four-week absence of Gates. Speaking of Gates, it is hard to say whether or not the Chargers will be able to find a team-friendly deal should he decide to continue his NFL career.
At the wideout spot, Floyd has already stated that he will not be back next season, announcing that this year will be his last. Inman looks to be a prime candidate for being re-signed by the club. He is gaining the trust of Philip Rivers in the passing game. His blocking as a wide receiver in the running game is improving with each snap he receives.
Offensive linemen Joe Barksdale and Chris Hairston have started multiple games in 2015, with Barksdale slotted as the team’s starting right tackle. He will most likely be brought back depending on the direction Tom Telesco decides to go in the early rounds of the 2016 draft. Hairston provides sold depth and versatility, making him a possibility for a return to the Chargers. Guys like Kenny Wiggins and Tyreek Burwell could be re-signed to fairly low-salary numbers. Burwell would still have another year of eligibility on the practice squad. Recently signed J.D. Walton will have to impress when called upon to receive consideration for an eventual re-signing.
The defensive side of the ball is obviously highlighted by the last year under contract for Eric Weddle. The team has made it clear that there will be no contract talks prior to the beginning of the 2016 league year. It doesn’t necessarily seem as though the team is willing to pony up and re-sign him to the money he believes he is worth. There is always the option of the organization applying the franchise tag to Weddle, paying him a top-five salary at his position on a one-year deal. Quite frankly, I don’t see that happening.
Fellow defensive back Patrick Robinson has looked to be a solid acquisition this offseason. Due to injuries, he has been asked to start on the outside although his position as the nickel corner is ideal for his skill-set. If he can continue to make an impact, he should be worth a look to remain with the team beyond 2015. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was offered a deal during the middle of this season.
Former second-round draft pick Kendall Reyes has been a bit of a disappoint save his rookie campaign. Depending on the desired contract of the defensive end, he may be hard-pressed to stay with the club past this year. He has not provided a viable solution opposite of Corey Liuget on the defensive line. Liuget needs help upfront, and Reyes does not seem like the guy for the job.
Ricardo Mathews is one of the most versatile defensive lineman on the team. He can line up at multiple spots and his high motor is impressive for a man his size. He comes back for at least one more season, in my opinion.
The situation surrounding strong safety Jahleel Addae is very interesting. Because of a nasty looking injury where his leg appeared to fold in half, he has missed the majority of the snaps through four weeks, allowing Jimmy Wilson to start in his place. If Addae were to come back and make an impact, would the team be willing to make him a long-term offer? It is difficult to say at this point. Similar to Barksdale, a lot of his future with the Bolts could depend on what Telesco plans to do in the draft.
I am not sure if you are as frightened by the number of free agents for 2016 as I am. But it looks like the 2016 Chargers have the chance of looking quite a bit different than this year’s squad.
Thank you very much for reading.
Little did Chargers fans know heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, it would be the last one in San Diego for both head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.
To say that fans were a bit perturbed with some of the player moves made by Smith during his tenure here is just polite.
We all recall the 2009 firing of Marty Schottenheimer after the best season the Chargers had posted in 30 years; letting players such as Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, and Vincent Jackson leave San Diego, only to succeed with new teams – the issue there being that viable replacements for those positions never came to be; and finally the Drew Brees’ situation.
Oh, and let’s not forget the 2004 draft which gave us quarterback Philip Rivers in that trade with the New York Giants! So far as Turner is concerned, he came close many times but just couldn’t get the team to the penultimate game.
But, enough about those days! Here is a look at the men who comprised the results of Smith and Turner’s final Chargers draft.
Melvin Ingram – OLB University of South Carolina 6’2″, 246 pounds
Ingram was 18th selection taken in the first round. Playing under Coach Steve Spurrier, Ingram was considered one of the top pass rushers entering draft day.
His rookie year saw him post 27 solo tackles, 14 assists, one sack and one forced fumble, participating in his only 16 game season. Since then, Ingram missed multiple games in the 2013 (ACL) and 2014 (hip) seasons while injured.
Upon returning to the lineup in those injury-shortened periods (2013-14), he produced a combined 25 solo tackles with 12 assists, logged five sacks and three forced fumbles.
This past offseason, he trimmed 20 pounds off his weight because “…I felt quick but I kept getting injured. The lighter you are, the less stress it is on your body, the less stress it is on your knees, your hips, your joints or your ankles, your toes — everything.”
Through two preseason contests, the former Gamecock has shown us that the lighter weight has benefited him because he is flying around, making tackles and pressuring the quarterback. He looks to be back to his rookie form, though obviously time will tell. Having had his fourth-year option extended this past April, high hopes abound that No. 54 will remain healthy, thereby helping lead the Bolts defensive attack into a group of thumpers. Grade: C
Kendall Reyes – DE University of Connecticut 6’4″, 300 pounds
Reyes was chosen in the second round at selection 49. A former three-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball, track and field), he was the highest-drafted lineman in the history of UConn.
In his rookie season with the Bolts, Reyes led his teammates with 19 quarterback pressures and 15 QB hits, nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks – the most by a Chargers rookie in 26 years. ESPN.com gave him All-Rookie honors for his performance.
Pegged to start opposite of Corey Liuget in 2013, Reyes collected five sacks to go with his 34 tackles.
He has started all 48 games since being drafted, totaling 94 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Those look like good numbers, however, his play has dropped off in comparison to his stellar debut.
In the final year of his rookie contract, Reyes arrived at camp in better shape. He has flashed some of that rookie moxie in both preseason games, yet the question lingers: will he be given an extension when 2015 is done, or will he become a free agent? Grade: C-
Brandon Taylor – Safety LSU 5’11”, 205 pounds
Selected in the third round, Taylor was considered an NFL-caliber safety who could become a starter early on at the next level. His physicality and refusal to back down against his opponents was something that the Chargers secondary needed.
He debuted in December that year and played four games before tearing his ACL against the New York Jets, ironically his best game, as he was credited with half a sack and three tackles.
Taylor spent time on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list until August of 2013, but never saw the field again. He was eventually waived in June of 2014 and is still a free agent. Grade: F
Ladarius Green – TE Louisiana-Lafayette 6’6″, 240 pounds
A fourth-round selection, Green has long been perceived to be the heir-apparent to Antonio Gates.
Green had a breakout sophomore season: played all 16 games (10 starts), collecting 17 receptions for 376 yards along with three touchdowns.
Through 34 games, he has racked up 658 yards on 40 catches and three scores.
It was anticipated that Green would continue 2014 where he left off the previous season. Green managed to grab 19 throws from Philip Rivers for 226 yards and zero touchdowns.
With Gates serving a four-game suspension this season, Green is locked in as the starting tight end. Despite all his talent, and the rear-view window perhaps closing in on Gates, 2015 looks to be a make it or break it year for Green, as this is his last year under contract with San Diego. Grade: C
Johnnie Troutman – G Penn State 6’4″, 330 pounds
The fifth round, 199th selection, Troutman was instrumental on a Penn State offensive line that allowed only 12 sacks the entire 2010 season; No. 13 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed.
Entering the draft, he was considered a much better run blocker than pass blocker who could make explosive blocks once he met his man, but also getting overpowered when having to move to the second level or dealing with a quicker defensive lineman.
Troutman tore his pectoral muscle two weeks prior to the draft, thus beginning his professional career on the “Reserve/Non-Football Injury” list.
He competed for the starting left guard position in 2013; in 2014 named starting right guard after Jeromey Clary was placed on the PUP list after undergoing a second hip surgery in three months.
As mentioned above, Troutman struggles in pass protection. Although run-blocking is his strength, it is still nothing to write home to Mom about. Grade: D
*The team had no picks in the sixth round
David Molk – Center, Michigan 6’1″ 298 pounds
Selected in the seventh round, Molk played 12 games for the Bolts on special teams and in short yardage situations. He was placed on IR in December of 2012, and subsequently released in August of the following year. Presently on the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles. Grade: F
This has not, overall, been a positive offseason for the Chargers, especially when you take into account all of the off-the-field issues. No, not a single player has been arrested, nor has one been in the news for breaking the law. It goes without saying, the fact that Charger fans have no idea whether or not the team will remain in San Diego has muddled the positive efforts of Tom Telesco and company regarding their moves via free agency and the draft.
Couple the stadium banter with the earlier trade talks of Philip Rivers and the absence of Eric Weddle — as he sits out of team workouts in hopes of a long-term contract — and you have a trying offseason that hides all of the positives surrounding the team.
In lieu of all of this negativity, I thought it to be prudent to focus on the team itself, and point out some players with the Chargers that are on the brink of surprising all of the fans that support the team.
Here are five players that I believe are on the rise this upcoming season.
DL Tenny Palepoi
As an undrafted free agent out of Utah, Palepoi was not expected to make much of an impact as a rookie. After forging his way onto the practice squad, Palepoi was elevated to the 53-man roster. His presence was known, although the boxscore wouldn’t show you such an impact.
The 24-year-old filled in admirably when called upon to do so. He provided the defensive line with a strong push and solid leg drive in forcing opposing offensive lineman backwards. Due to the descending play of Kendall Reyes, Palepoi may find himself in a position to make more of an impact in 2015. After defying the odds as a rookie, look for the former Ute to come in and make a name for himself, both on special teams and as an inside pass rusher on the defensive line when called upon to do so.
The team has spoken highly of Palepoi this offseason, showing their belief in his ability to make plays going into his second year. Despite only logging nine total tackles in 2014, he did show the makings of a player that can find a place on this team and in this league.
S Jahleel Addae
Some believe that the acquisition of Jimmy Wilson may ensure the relegation of Addae to role player on the Charger defense. That may be the case, but I believe the competition at the strong safety spot will push Addae to elevate his game to another level.
I’ve seen multiple publications, including the U-T San Diego, state that Wilson will be slated as the starter at strong safety. I think that is an error in judgement. Addae is completely aware of what is in front of him, and I doubt that will slip his mind as he works to solidify his place in the secondary. He’s a ferocious hitter that just needs to work on his coverage ability — which did improve as he saw more playing time as the season wore on. If he continues to tune up his pass-coverage skills, he may be named the starter at strong safety sooner rather than later.
DL Ryan Carrethers
Despite dealing with injuries throughout portions of his rookie year, Carrethers showed promise in limited action. You could really start to see flashes of a player that could make an impact on the defensive line in San Diego. The fifth-round pick in last year’s draft had five solo stops in one game last season.
Carrethers has the perfect build for a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Although the Chargers don’t spend much time in their base defense, he could force his way into the starting lineup with a strong training camp and preseason. If he makes enough progress to take over the starting role at nose, that would allow for Sean Lissemore to kick out to the defensive end spot where he is most likely better suited to play. Both the improvement by Carrethers and move of Lissemore to end would provide Corey Liuget with some much-needed help on the defensive line.
OL DJ Fluker
There has been quite a bit of speculation in the media this offseason regarding whether or not offensive lineman DJ Fluker will be moved to the right guard position. These talks began prior to the team signing Joe Barksdale, a right tackle formerly of the Rams and Raiders. The signing of Barksdale has stoked the fires even further.
Fluker, the 11th overall pick of the 2013 draft, has flashed great ability as a run blocker, punishing defenders while creating running lanes for Charger ball carriers. But he has struggled at times as a pass blocker, especially against speed rushers.
The 24-year-old played last season at a weight that fluctuated around 350 pounds. His size alone would lend itself to the right guard position being the more suited spot, as opposed to right tackle. Fluker is working this offseason to lose weight and improve his foot quickness and his punch. If he is successful in doing so, he could make an impact at either spot, depending on what the team decides on as its starting-five along the offensive line.
Maintaining the proper weight could be the only factor that stands in the way of Fluker making a name for himself in the NFL. He is very powerful and his foot work has improved over his two years in the league. Seeing a 325-pound beast in Fluker man either the right guard or right tackle position would pay dividends in both the passing and running games for the Bolts.
CB Jason Verrett
I tried to not include Verrett on this list because he played so well when on the field. He was ranked as the No. 2 cornerback in all of the NFL for a couple of weeks due to his stellar play. But Verrett struggled through hamstring and shoulder injuries as a rookie, ultimately being placed on injured reserve in the middle of November last year.
What Verrett lacks in size he makes up for with speed, quickness and good instincts. He does a great job of breaking on the ball in coverage. Despite a small sample size as a rookie, he showed that he can lock down receivers and make the necessary plays to make an impact. He is also surprisingly aggressive against the run, unafraid of coming up and securing stops in the running game.
Having Brandon Flowers opposite of him in the secondary, and next to him in the film room, will certainly accelerate Verrett’s play going forward. He has the skillset to become a force at the cornerback spot for many years to come.
Honorable mentions: Jerry Attaochu, Sean Lissemore, Chris Watt and Melvin Ingram
The Chargers have the makings of what could be a very successful team in 2015. The team has added more weapons on the offensive side of the ball, while increasing team speed and physicality on the defense. It will be interesting to see how this squad gels in all three phases of the game.
Former Broncos reserve defensive lineman, Mitch Unrein visited the Chargers today, per source.
As Tom Telesco continues to fly under the radar during free agency, he still is working diligently to find players that can add depth value to the roster.
Unrein, an undrafted free agent in 2010, spent some brief time with the Houston Texans and participated in their training camp that year. A few months later, he was signed by the Denver Broncos and spent 11 games on their practice squad.
In 2011, he spent 14 games as a reserve defensive lineman before playing all 16 regular-season games for the Broncos in 2012.
He was also the only defensive lineman in Broncos history to catch a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning vs. Tampa Bay (12/2/12).
Ultimately, Unrein would be a backup to Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes. With how common injuries occur in the NFL, along with an injury stricken team last year, he’s worth taking a look at.
Chargers fans are well aware that while it may not have struggled as much as the offensive line, the defensive side of the ball also had issues. Now, in light of Jarret Johnson having retired, there is a space to fill. Enter, Pernell McPhee?
An unrestricted free-agent from the Baltimore Ravens, McPhee has a pretty good resume for only being in the League since 2011. Drafted that year in the fifth round out of Mississippi State by Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens GM, this guy has followed up his college years with nary a hiccup. Thus far, McPhee’s has 65 tackles (47 solo), 9.5 sacks for -56 yards, 3 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. His 2014 stats alone were 7.5 sacks, 27 tackles (both career highs), and 35 quarterback hits. He is 6’3″ and weighs 280.
What’s good about him beyond the stats? He is another durable player which San Diego fans know is a plus! Other than the four games missed due to a thigh injury in 2011, he played all 16 games since joining the NFL. Also consider that he can line up anywhere on the defensive line and wreak havoc. Couldn’t the Bolts use that? He could be “The Guy” that Coach John Pagano would build a scheme around, thus leaving any Chargers opponent having to account for his presence on every snap. He wins his interior one-on-one pass rushes. Picking him up would give the team a trio of guys that could grow together as a unit: McPhee is 26 years old, Kendall Reyes is 25, and Corey Liuget is 24. Cohesiveness on defense? Yes!
So, let’s talk money. His expiring rookie contract was four years/$2,184,560; $144,560 signing bonus/$144,560 guarantee. Yearly salary average of $546,140. If Telesco could sign him, a potential contract could be 5 years/$40.5 million with $13 million guaranteed. Granted the cap restrictions are tight, but this could help the Chargers out not only immediately, but long into the future. Isn’t speculation a wonderful concept?
Thanks for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed it! Please leave your comments below.
Cheryl A. White
“Games are won and lost in the trenches.” How many times have we heard that from coaches and commentators alike? I think the 2014 Charger season proved that out.
A patchwork offensive line was tasked with protecting Philip Rivers, was not consistently effective. Too many times we saw #17 running for his proverbial life. The run game was terrible as well. The Chargers lost their anchor, Nick Hardwick early in the season and now for good with his expected retirement. A total of five men played at the center position. Johnny Troutman was awful. DJ Fluker’s inexperience at the professional level was exposed in his Sophomore season. Truth be told, I felt King Dunlap was the only bright spot along the front five.
The defensive front seven wasn’t a whole heck of a lot better. Donald Butler was invisible. The nose tackle by committee was a failure. Kendall Reyes seemed to regress. Pressure from the outside linebackers (pass rush specialists in a 3-4) weren’t helped by their teammates. Corey Liuget was the only consistent performer on the defensive side.
With the Free Agency period beginning on March 10, I’ve been going over the list of pending free agents and have compiled a wish list of whom I’d like to see Tom Telesco pursue. Also, I will look at who the casual fan clamors for and why I don’t see them in lightning bolts in 2015. This, of course, is without considering salary restraints.
On Defense, nose tackle is of particular concern to me. You may say that John Pagano ran a base 3-4 less than half the time. Perhaps because NT was a weak link? Sean Lissemore didn’t impress at all. Ryan Carrethers showed potential until he got hurt, but he needs seasoning. Ricardo Mathews is a serviceable sub, but the Chargers haven’t had a stud nose tackle since Jamal Williams. Personally, I think this is one position Tom Telesco needs to look over the free agent crop. Chargers can ill afford to have the front seven compromised by the nose being the weak link.
Should Denver not retain Terrence Knighton, he tops my list. He’s big, he’s quick and he’s strong. He can take on multiple blockers, which is what your NT needs to do. He’s durable, having started 16 games in four of his six NFL seasons. Dan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals is another. While his numbers (tackles and assists) don’t stack up to Knighton’s, he’s been a force in the middle of the Arizona defensive front. I don’t see Ndamukong Suh in lightning bolts at all. He’s a 4-3 defensive tackle, and I’m not convinced he can make the transition to a 3-4 NT. His inability to control of his temper concerns me as well.
A stud in the middle of the 3-4 has a ripple effect on the rest of the front seven as well, so this position is critical to the success of the Charger defense. Washington’s Danny Shelton looks impressive if they wait for the draft to fill the need at NT. Kid’s got a motor. If Tom Telesco doesn’t want a NT, then perhaps he, Mike McCoy and John Pagano should abandon the 3-4.
On the offensive side of the trenches, signing King Dunlap to a new deal was huge (no pun intended). He was rock solid protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side. As for the interior of the line, I’m really worried. Mike Iupati tops mosts lists. He’s a solid guard, he’s quick and he’s been durable for San Francisco. Denver’s Orlando Franklin is another solid possibility. Again, he’s durable and we all know that Denver’s line has been great in protecting Peyton Manning the last few years.
Depth can be filled in through the draft. The Bolts need to draft and groom for the future. Chris Watt will be better this year, having been forced into service with as a rookie. Fluker needs to improve his footwork and quickness if he’s going to continue to play right tackle. I focused on guards through free agency because all indications seem to point to Fluker staying at RT.
That’s my take on the trenches on both sides of the ball. Next, I’ll look at linebackers and running backs.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what your thoughts are!
With so many holes to fill on the team, there have been many debates already on what direction the Chargers should go in the draft. The one glaring need is at the Nose Tackle position. Currently Sean Lissemore, who was brought in from Dallas in 2013, and Ryan Carrethers were taking turns at this spot. There does not seem to be a lot of depth at this position, and Lissemore can be perhaps better suited on the end of the line. San Diego needs someone who can take on two and perhaps three players; freeing up Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes to get into the backfield. With a long list of solid OL in this year’s draft, a desperate need of course, perhaps going after a high ranked D-Lineman would be the way to go with the 17th overall pick. The Bolts ranked 4th to last in sacks last year and opposing running backs seemed to find holes through the middle; just watch both games last year against Kansas City. A man who would look great in lightning bolt gear that could improve the defense promptly could be Eddie Goldman out of Florida State University.
Projected 40-yard dash: 4.8
*All pre-Combine unofficial estimations
As a junior in 2014, Eddie Goldman racked up 35 tackles with 8 tackles for loss and four sacks. Since arriving in Tallahassee in 2012, Eddie has played both Defensive End and Defensive Tackle; playing the tackle position last season. He played DT in 10 games as a true freshman, then moved to DE his sophomore year. His collegiate career stats equate to 62 tackles and 6 sacks.
Goldman’s measurables are deceiving as the weight/muscles distribution is even throughout his big frame. He plays low and is quick at the snap. He has the ability to beat his man quick in the middle and be on the quarterback before he’s done making his drop. With Eddie’s size and strength, he can easily be used at times to just be a cog – taking on a double team allowing the edge rushers and linebackers to burst through the line. Goldman has quick hands and gets them into the opposing man’s chest in a hurry – allowing his strength to push them back as if they were on skates. On the flip-side he was very rarely pushed back on his heels. With those speedy hands he is able to also either slap hands away or put a quick swim move on an opposing lineman. The biggest strength with Goldman is his ability to locate the ball quickly. With that talent, he is able to latch on to ball carriers as they attempt to run past him. When you add in his length and strong arms he can pull them down or pop the ball out.
I love this guy’s motor for a man his size, which was on display in the Rose Bowl against Oregon’s no-huddle offense. Eddie’s ability to play in any scheme and any position on the defensive line makes him very versatile. Even though he is more talented and known for his ability to stop the run than as a pass rusher, he does possess the strong leg drive to bull rush any interior lineman deep into the pocket; surprising Quarterbacks with his close-out quickness. The Seminoles have had a pretty stingy defense the last few years and ESPN’s Todd McShay was asked about Goldman. He stated, “He is dominant against the run and might be the best player on the FSU defense.” With his direct influence of any game, using his quickness, power and ball awareness, Eddie Goldman can be an immediate impact player on a line so desperate to improve.
As you can see in the highlight video below, he’s one of the most athletic men in the league at his size. If coached right, he could be a nightmare for opposing lineman.
Thanks for reading. Come back to BoltBlitz for more draft player profiles!!
(Thanks to tallahassee.com and galleryhip.com for the pictures)
The San Diego Chargers face the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm stadium this Sunday. This game will show exactly what the Bolts are made of and whether or not they are ready to take the next step toward securing an AFC Wildcard spot.
The first contest between these two teams this year was a grudge match won by the Chargers in the final minutes of the game by a score of 31-28. Despite Oakland’s 0-9 record, this will be another tough game between these hated division rivals. In that game, Malcom Floyd came up big with 103 yards receiving and a touchdown reception. Branden Oliver also topped the 100-yard mark in the rushing department and added a score of his own. Oliver went on to win the Pepsi Offensive Rookie of the week award. After taking the lead, and the Raiders driving down the field, San Diego’s first-round draft pick, Jason Verrett, sealed the game with his first career interception.
It should be expected that this second game will be a close one, as well. Below I have some statistical predictions regarding Sunday’s game.
– Malcom Floyd will have at least 140 yards receiving
– Ryan Mathews rushes for at least 85 yards and scores two touchdowns
– The Chargers will have a third down conversion rate on offense of 60% or better
– Kendall Reyes will lead the team in sacks with two
– Antonio Gates catches 7 balls and has 2 receiving touchdowns
– Brandon Flowers has an interception on one play, and a strip-sack-fumble recovery on a corner blitz on another
– John Pagano is aggressive in his playcalling and the defense notches 5 sacks
– Eric Weddle will finish with 10 total tackles
– Branden Oliver will have 50+ yards receiving
– Donald Butler has a good game ( Not really a stat, I know. But it’s a bold prediction. )
– Philip Rivers throws for 341 yards
– The Chargers win 34-24
It is difficult to prognosticate these many predictions. Some might say it is a worthless waste of time. That being said, I expect players that have not played well to do just the opposite, and the stars to shine bright and help this team to victory.
We are only two days away from finding out how the Chargers achieve another win in an effort to keep building on what started out as a special season. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that the march toward a deep run into the playoffs begins on Sunday. It is now a seven-game season and the time to start winning is now.
Thanks a lot for reading.
During training camp I continued to hear the mantra “Next Man Up” from players, coaches and front office executives. The cynical side of me thought perhaps it was just another slogan that could be splashed on a t-shirt and sold. Or perhaps a cool saying to put on an edited picture. I took this catchphrase and used it for my selfish benefit; as a tool in raising my enthusiasm about our Chargers. After three weeks of the regular season, I feel that I might understand and value what McCoy and Telesco were really referring to and where this motto came from.
Rewinding a little – After I cleansed my cynical ideals about the phrase, I sat back and thought about it open-mindedly. With early injuries to Clary and season-long injuries to Freeney and Ingram last year, it would make sense to employ this theory. I felt perhaps the dunce cap was coming off and now I was able to leave the corner of the room. I felt relieved, and a honestly a little dimwitted. I realized it was not just a commercialized statement. It actually had meaning. However, I had not yet fully grasped the concept.
Going back even further now – back to the 2012-2013 season. The New England Patriots clinched the 2nd seed in the AFC playoffs with a 12-4 record. They would lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens, but they had the same motto – Next Man Up. All season long they had dealt with adversity, injuries, suspensions….etc. The coveted phrase would have to prove itself in the AFC divisional playoffs. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski re-injured his surgically repaired forearm and a certain running back injured his thumb within the first ten plays of the game. The backup RB, Shane Vereen, scored three touchdowns and amassed 124 total yards. The running back who injured his thumb, was none other than our own Danny Woodhead.
Early in 2014, and more specifically last Sunday’s win against the Bills, I saw……no!…I felt what was happening. It’s not just about being ready to play at any moment with no excuses, it also means producing on the field. I know this might sound muddled, but hear me out. Last season there were no Charger defenders who won “Player of The Week.” Rivers and Peyton Manning played seesaw for the first four weeks with Manning eventually winning the “Player of The Month.” In 2012, we had one Charger win this honor – Donald Butler in week 4. This year, we have had back-to-back winners – Gates and now Liuget. Next Man Up. If Liuget is off his game, perhaps Reyes will pick up the slack and become the fierce warrior. Antonio Gates might have shined in one game, but perhaps Eddie Royal will step up and take a few to the house. Because of this team, this family, this translucent mantra, every player feels that they are next. They believe in this team, this motto, and they want to be a part of it. There is something in the air out in San Diego, an aura of great confidence. Can you feel it?
Fast forward to the here and now. As many NFL teams have experienced thus far, injuries are attacking without any remorse. San Diego is no different. From small irritant injuries to long-term injuries to possible career ending ones, our beloved Bolts have taken a beating….literally. Mathews went down. Insert Donald Brown and Branden Oliver. Woodhead went down. Insert DJ Adams and Shaun Draughn. Melvin Ingram goes down (again) and insert Cordarro Law. What can we expect from them? Only time will tell. In the past, I would have become pessimistic and hopeless watching our starters go down. This year, even with our brutal schedule, I am not panicking. I am not worried, and I am not giving up hope. Why you ask? Because….the Next Man is up.