The Bolts have been waiting on Larry English to develop into a solid contributor to their defense, but up to this point he has to be considered a huge disappointment. A team running a 3-4 alignment like the Chargers can never have too many pass rushers to line up at outside linebacker and set loose on opposing quarterbacks so an additional body is always welcome. Justin Trattou from the University of Florida is great at shedding blockers and could play well in traffic once transitioned to the linebacker position. He played defensive end during his time in Gainesville, but at 6’3” 255 will need to move to outside backer at the next level. A signing like this when the free agency window opens would add a developmental rotation player to the team’s linebacking corps capable of getting pressure on the quarterback with a wide variety of moves already in his arsenal.
Although it may not be a pressing need, the team’s inability to add any substantial depth to the tight end position via the draft in recent years is a bit troubling. It would be nice to see a 2-3 year project added to the roster for grooming behind Antonio Gates who is now 31 years of age. Teams passed on South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders in the draft due to some lingering character concerns, but if that is all ironed out the Bolts should give him a serious look. Saunders offers tons of upside physically at 6’5” 270lbs., but he needs to grow into the position by maturing both mentally and physically with a few years of seasoning on the practice squad or special teams.
It seems as if the fans in San Diego have been clamoring for an upgrade at right tackle forever now, yet somehow incumbent Jeromey Clary is still penciled in as the starter if the season began today. Adding an additional body to the depth chart for some competition could either inspire the lackluster Clary or push him to the side and small school project David Mims would be a great fit. From tiny Virginia Union that may be the only thing that is small about Mims who checks in at a massive 6’8” 337lbs. He possesses tremendous strength and is very skilled at reestablishing the line of scrimmage in the run game. Mims would offer some big time upside at the right tackle spot and could give the Bolts ginormous bookends opposite Marcus McNeill for years to come.
This position was above average to great during the 2010 season, but with Eric Weddle scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the lockout ends, there is plenty of uncertainty at safety for the Bolts. Additional depth and competition at any position is always welcome and somehow two gems slipped through the cracks this April at the safety spot. The first candidate is DeAndre McDaniel from Clemson who was the number one defensive back recruit coming out of high school offering ridiculous size for his position. At 6’0” 217lbs. playing free safety, McDaniel is a rangy athlete with great recovery speed and the size to lay a big time hit when necessary. A dropoff in production during his senior season as well as some character concerns from an assault arrest in 2008 kept him from being drafted, but he could prove to be a steal. Another possibility at safety is former North Carolina star Deunta Williams who is also an athletic freak at 6’2” 205lbs. Williams has a great first step in play diagnosis determining run versus pass with an uncanny ability always giving him that extra advantage on the offensive player. He possesses some outstanding hip fluidity for his size when dropping in coverage and could find a home as a rover in the defensive backfield. His baggage is the four game suspension he received from the NCAA for improper benefits this past season, but otherwise he is clean of character concerns.
Certainly there is no exact science to determining which (if any) of these undrafted free agents the Chargers and General Manager A.J. Smith may key in on once the lockout is lifted. These positions are definitely areas of intrigue and the players mentioned are considered to be among the best available at those particular spots on the field. GM Smith has shown an ability in the past to pluck some great diamonds from the rough among the undrafted crop so let’s hope he has some similar success with the 2011 class.
Now it’s your turn. Do you think the positions mentioned above are the most likely areas for the Bolts to address when the free agency free-for-all finally begins? Are there any additional spots where you think the team could use some help in fleshing out the depth chart? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts!
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