Rey Maualuga's name is being linked the to San Diego Chargers from multiple sources, and for good reason; the Chargers' defense proved vulnerable last year, especially up the middle. The loss of an impact player of Shawne Merriman's caliber certainly didn't help matters, but even by reaching into the depth chart the Chargers were never able to fully compensate for Merriman's loss, and they lacked consistent intensity all season long. Maualuga is widely regarded as the NFL Draft's top middle linebacker prospect and a big reason why is that 'Sting Rey' is one of the most brutal tacklers in all of football. Maualuga has gained a number of fans over the years, not the least of which is former NFL head coach and Super Bowl winner Jon Gruden:
"I love Rey Maualuga from USC. He's my favorite player in the draft." Gruden proclaimed while commentating at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He would go on to joke that he separated his shoulder simply from watching the viscous linebacker on tape. He praised Maualuga's versatility and impact on the game: "This guy will smash you. He's an every-down linebacker. He gets down the middle in Pete Carroll's Cover 2 scheme. He can play in the nickle. He can play in the base. This guy will smash you. He is a heck of a football player. I love this guy."
That is certainly high profile praise, especially considering Gruden's resume and pedigree. If Gruden was still coaching today he'd probably feel the same way about Maualuga, he just wouldn't be so public with his opinion.
So in the eyes of a former Super Bowl winning head coach, does Rey Maualuge possess the ability and acumen of the game to man the responsibilities of calling a pro defense?
"You want to solidify the middle of your defense? You go right here to Southern California and you get Rey Maualuga. He's like Seau, he's like Tatupu. I love Rey Maualuga."
Rey Maualuga Highlights (Video):
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