Chargers 2011 Draft Needs Have A Defensive Focus

There is plenty of uncertainty right now in the NFL universe but the NFL draft is one thing fans can count on. The San Diego Chargers have more riding on this draft than they have in recent memory due to a host of chronic injuries and ineffective drafting in years past. Who the Chargers should select with their top picks will be a hotly debated topic in Chargers fandom. What general positions the Chargers need to draft for to help solidify their roster is, arguably, easier to estimate.


The Chargers have struggled to maintain consistent quality at the safety position since Rodney Harrison was prematurely released from the team after the 2002 season. The team seems very happy with the performance of Eric Weddle, but this defense has lacked that hard-hitting, fear imposing guy at linebacker or safety that makes opposing receivers and tight-ends think twice about running across the middle. Hard-hitting but ineffective sixth round pick Kevin Ellison was once anointed the savior opposite Weddle, but that only showed how truly desparate the Chargers were to find help at the position. Last year the Chargers drafted Darrell Stuckey in the fourth round with an eye toward grooming him to fill the glaring need in the secondary. Stuckey was injured early in 2010 and spent most of the season watching and learning. Is he the long-term answer opposite Weddle? He is smart and quick, and this a not a safety-strong draft. I'm betting they will stick with Stuckey for better or for worse in 2010, and look for AJ Smith to draft a safety, but not one who seriously contends for a starting spot right away.


Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. The Chargers are about to need help at the linebacker position. Show me a linebacker not named Phillips, and I’ll show you a free agent with no guarantee of wearing lightning bolts next season, or a lifelong backup. With first round pick Larry English failing to live up to first round expectations, and their remaining back-ups being no better than back-ups, the Chargers need help at linebacker. Most likely, a lot of help at linebacker.

Defensive End

No Chargers fans, Luis Castillo isn’t going anywhere. But Jacques Cesaire is a free agent and Vaughn Martin is not ready to take over. The Chargers need help on the defensive line and the 2011 draft is the most likely place to fill that need. There are a few good defensive ends who should be around when the Chargers draft at number 18 in the first round, so this seems to be a good position to bet on for the Bolts first pick on April 28.

Offensive Line

Jerome Clary fans will once again hear the barbs coming from most Chargers fans this offseason. It seems that every year, the cries go out for an upgrade at right tackle, and every year those requests are ignored. Could this be the year that a new right tackle takes over for Clary? I doubt it. Hey, I’m all for an upgrade on the offensive line, which, in the opinion of many experts, is one of the most important units in football. But it's also hard to ignore the fact that Clary played more snaps than any other lineman. You can bet AJ will not ignore that stat.

One could argue that the Chargers need some help at other positions, but these are the major areas of need from my point of view. Any of these positions has the possibility of being filled at number 18 in the first around except safety, where there just doesn't seem to be a pick worthy of the middle of round-one. Then again, picking a safety in a spot like that seems like AJ's style. Then again, picking a position that isn't a serious need also seems like AJ's style. Can anyone see the Bolts picking up another running back in the first round? Ugh.

Your thoughts on the major needs to be filled by the Chargers in the 2011 NFL Draft? Sound off below!

February 24, 2011

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tresmang said... Feb 25, 2011, 7:25:00 AM

First of all, Bennett and Coop are FAs, but one of them will re-sign, mu guess Coop has the upper hand even though Bennett outplayed him last season. Butler will be back and he is expected to take the other inside role....English, the jury is still out and being his 3rd year this will be his make or break season.....I have to agree it looks smarter to take a DE at 18..and please AJ, lets just keep all our picks unless some one makes an offer that is too good to pass up....but dont go looking to move around a bunch to satisfy some demented twitch.....and for cryin out loud.....use FREE AGENCY for a safety...we dont have the luxury of waitng 2-3 years for another developmental project.....Sanders and Otogwe are both serviceable and could mentor young Stuckey......not asking for Asi just get a servicable FA that can save us a pick for another need,..... like a future WR, TE, OT.........and Bolt fan?...maybe you should check out the stats a little better before you go off on Clary..(doesnt make you look like a knowledgable fan)'s a link that might just surpise you..

Matt Slater said... Feb 28, 2011, 11:24:00 PM

I hope they retain Burnett, Siler, and Weddle, then try to upgrade at safety with a 2nd-day pick. I think Vaughn Martin and Travis Johnson would make a fine starting combo at 5-tech; Johnson is a FA, but won't be expensive. As for the #18 overall, I think they should either move up to get a pass-rusher like Robert Quinn, or draft the best player at any position of need (maybe Nate Solder, if he's still there), or move down, possibly dealing with a team like New England (drafting at 33 and 60).

THE MAN said... Mar 2, 2011, 12:34:00 PM

trade up to get von miller 8th pick

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