Posts Tagged “Bruce Irvin”




The San Diego Chargers found themselves with the 16th best defense in 2011 but ranked dead last on 3rd downs.  A dimension the Chargers have lacked over the years has been a consistent pass rush and with Peyton Manning joining the division the emphasis of the 2012 draft is without a doubt defense. With glaring needs at Safety and Outside Linebacker look General Manager A.J. Smith to address these needs in the first half of the draft.

Round 1 – Pick 18

Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB, Illinois –  Assuming the Chargers don’t trade up to grab Alabama safety Mark Barron or trade down for Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, I can see A.J. Smith giving another go at an outside pass rusher. Mercilus was the nation’s sack leader with 16, but may scare some teams due to his lack of productivity before his Junior year. This could hinder his chances of not being drafted higher than pick 18. He shows natural pass rush abilities, comes quick off the edge and knows how to work his way towards the QB. He will have to learn a few more pass rush moves as he won’t be able to rely strictly on speed. With the newly acquired Jarret Johnson, any OLB drafted in this spot would split time with the vet, easing his way into the starting spot over the years.

Other possible selections: LB Dont’a Hightower, S Mark Barron, S Harrison Smith

Round 2 – Pick 49

Bruce Irvin LB/DE, West Virginia – With the top 2 safeties off the board, the Chargers could be in a position to draft another highly touted sack artist, LB/DE Bruce Irvin. Much like Mercilus, Irvin comes off the edge very quick and shows natural pass rush abilities. He has a tall lengthy build, and can be a great situational rusher. He is very similar to Aldon Smith of the 49ers in the way he uses his speed and change of direction skill to get past blockers. The safety from Boise State, George Iloka, could be targeted here too. But a great pass rush can make a secondary look elite. I can’t imagine A.J. Smith being all that thrilled about being ranked dead last on 3rd down stops last season.  In order to change that, he will have to improve this unit by any means necessary.

Other possible selections: OLB Ronnell Lewis, OLB Bobby Wagner, S George Iloka

Round 3 – Pick 78

Alameda Ta’amu DT, Washington –  Antonio Garay has fit in well as the nose tackle in a rotational defensive line, but with this pick the Chargers could finally have the true NT they’ve been looking for since the release of Jamal Williams back in 2010. A mountain of a man at 6’3” and in the 320-350lbs. range, Ta’amu is the prototype nose tackle for a 3-4 defense. The majority of the time he takes up 2 blockers which frees up other rushers and it is rare to see him get pushed backwards. He has shown he can consistently take on double team blocks, and has the ability to break through them to make the tackle. He will never be a sack leader, but his strengths against the run and taking up space in the middle make him a great fit for the Chargers pass rush.

Other possible selections: S/CB Brandon Hardin, CB, Casey Hayward, RB Ronnie Hillman


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