San Diego Chargers Draft: Mid- to Late- Round Prospects to add to the Defense
Last week I looked at which mid- to late- round targets to add to the offense, (see https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/san-diego-chargers-draft-5-mid-to-late-round-prospects-to-add-to-the-offense/) now it’s time to look at which targets to add to the defense.
The Chargers defense took a huge step backwards last season. They went from the number one ranked team in total defense in 2010, to the sixteenth ranked team in total defense in 2011.
Changes are clearly needed on defense for next season. Changes to the coaching staff have already been made with the firing of Greg Manusky and John Pagano promoted to defensive coordinator.
The defensive line was given a recent boost with the news that Antonio Garay has signed a two-year contract extension. However, improvements are still needed and finding a pass rusher in the Draft should be a must.
But who should the Chargers bring in to help improve the defense? Let’s find out.
Bruce Irvin- 4-3 Defensive End/3-4 Outside Linebacker- West Virginia
Overview: Bruce Irvin is another one of those hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker prospects whose looking to make the transition to the NFL. He had an outstanding Combine where he impressed scouts with his tremendous athleticism in position drills and showed off his amazing speed by running a 4.50 40 yard dash. Now here comes the bad news.
He was arrested just a few weeks after the Combine for destruction of property and disorderly conduct. This isn’t his first run in with the law after serving a brief stint in juvenile prison during his youth. Unfortunately like many other players in this Draft, Irvin is a talented yet troubled player who be forced to clean up his act if he wants to make it in the NFL.
Irvin would be a great player to bring in to add to the Chargers pass rush and could be used exclusively as a third down pass rusher alongside Antwan Barnes.
NFL Comparison: Cameron Wake
Projected Round: 2nd-3rd
Jaye Howard- 4-3 Defensive Tackle/3-4 Defensive End- Florida
Overview: Let me begin by stating that I think Jaye Howard is one of the most underrated players in this year’s Draft. Despite being a consistent contributor on the Florida Gators defense for the past few seasons, he isn’t being talked about as one of the top defensive tackles. The 6 ft 3 inch 303 lbs senior would surely be a steal for any team to pick up in the middle rounds.
The Chargers defensive line is looking really impressive for next season. Antonio Garay is the veteran of the group with young players Cam Thomas and Vaughn Martin both showing tremendous promise last season. Just like last year’s first round pick Corey Liuget, Howard would probably play as a defensive end in the Chargers 3-4 defense but could also play some snaps at nose tackle.
Howard would be a nice addition to add to the defensive line rotation.
NFL Comparison: Cullen Jenkins
Projected Round: 4th-5th
Cliff Harris- Cornerback- Oregon
Overview: Similar to Bruce Irvin, Cliff Harris has some off-field concerns of his own. Harris had a fantastic 2010 season in which he was a great contributer for Oregon both on special teams and on defense, but he followed that up with an awful 2011 season in which he was eventually dismissed from the team. He has drawn a lot of comparisons to Janoris Jenkins except he is a less talented cornerback and is more of a threat as a return man.
This pick would add great depth to the Chargers defense. Harris would add to last year’s Draft picks Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright in an emerging group of backup cornerbacks with Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason projected as the starters. He could also add value in the return game as he was a great punt returner during his time at Oregon with four career touchdowns.
Despite having various character concerns, Harris would still be worth taking a risk on in the latter rounds.
NFL Comparison: Adam Jones
Projected Round: 6th-7th
So those are my mid- to late- round defensive targets for the Chargers.
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Thanks for reading.