2013 Draft Could Force the Chargers into the 4-3 Defense

November 1, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Donald Butler (56) tries to get the crowd louder during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

By James Fedewa


The NFL Draft is in less than a week and San Diego’s offensive Line is the obvious need. The Chargers should be able to draft a premier (and coveted) left tackle; despite of what most draft analysts say (Lane Johnson or Eric Fisher should be available at #11).


Round TWO and THREE are the trick for the Chargers Defense. San Diego needs another pass rusher (in the form of a Right Defensive End / Outside Linebacker), a pure run-stuffer Nose Tackle or a very good Cornerback prospect.


Nose Tackle is the core of the 3-4 Defense and currently occupied by one guy, Cam Thomas, who has only started two games in his three year career). Thomas has had good productivity in the times he has played and has earned this starting position. Since losing previous nose tackles in in Antonio Garay and Aubrayo Franklin, San Diego needs nose tackles to be a formidable 3-4 defense. So unless San Diego can draft a very good Nose Tackle, there is no loyalty to the 3-4 defense with San Diego’s current roster.


San Diego’s top Outside Linebackers are Melvin Ingram (270 lbs.), Jarret Johnson (260 lbs.) and Larry English (255 lbs.). All are very capable of being 4-3 defensive ends ONLY, based on college experience, height, weight and speed.


San Diego projected 2nd round draft projections could be:


  1. Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State
  2. Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
  3. Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

(…all college 4-3 defensive ends)


Nose tackles are a bit limited in the 2013 Draft. There are several of Nose Tackles that could be available in the first round, but San Diego will be drafting a left tackle. With San Diego’s second round pick, in all likelihood, most top rated nose tackles will probably be gone by San Diego #45th selection. Brandon William, Missouri Southern State, and Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin, could be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round, but both are projects coming out of a smaller school and neither warranting the Chargers to keep the base 3-4 Defense.


In round two, there could be limited Outside Linebackers, no Nose Tackles, but several 4-3 Defensive Ends. Without the quality 3-4 nose tackles available in the 2013 draft, San Diego might be better equipped to change from the 3-4 to the 4-3 Defense with their current personnel and a current 4-3 drafted defensive end. Changing to the 4-3 would also require San Diego to draft additional linebackers, which seem to be more available in later round, but current 4-3 linebackers would be led by Donald Butler, followed by Jonas Mouton, Andrew Gachkar and Bront Bird.


In the second round, more Cornerbacks could be selected than any other position, but San Diego has a promising young threesome in Cox, Wright and Gilchrist that could be very special for a long time.


There are more reasons, now, to change to the 4-3 defense than there is keeping the 3-4 defense (based on player personnel alone – NT, OLB vs. DE). Coach Pagano on the other hand may say something different…


Topics: San Diego Chargers

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  • Gunnar Martin


  • Cgoodness13

    Well we are a defensive team, 4-3 focuses more on the players than the coaches. I’ve actually wanted this after watching our D last year. If we can resign Phillips, then this could be a good idea

    • shane

      sorry but shaun phillips at DE??? the dude is a pass rushing OLB…def not big enough for DE

      • Cgoodness13

        He’s actually a decent coverage OLB, I didn’t say DE, dont see how you thought i said that but what evs. And I think Johnson ran some 4-3 in Baltimore.

        • boltingindiego

          i think suggs was the de because i think johnson was better at coverage plus suggs is the superior pass rusher. what do you mean that 4-3 focuses more on the players than the coaches. Are you saying it’s the opposite to the 3-4 that way.

          • Cgoodness13

            3-4 requires someone blitzing almost every play, this requiring the coaches to decide who and when, to mess with the O line and blockers. 4-3 is more straight forward, almost every play you just use the 4 down lineman, pretty much saying my 4 d lineman are better than all 5 of your olineman and who ever else you are using to block.

          • boltingindiego

            majority time last year our rush end was phillips so it basically rushing 4 ppl at a time.

          • Cgoodness13

            That why I believe we should switch to the 4-3, we were pretty predictable, but still did good.

          • boltingindiego

            who would be are olb’s that can cover.

          • Cgoodness13

            I want to resign Phillips because he a pretty good OLB in coverage, move Ingram down to DE, move liuget to DT, and probally use Johnson or English at the other OLB.

    • jamfed

      Player personnel should dictate what defensive formation strengths the Chargers should run. SD will lose Garay, Franklin, Phillips & Barns (two nose tackles and two OLB’s). That’s a pretty big turnover (for two positional main ingredients of a 3-4 defense).
      Plus losing 3-4 Defensive End Vaughn Martin too, SD will have to fill a lot of holes in the draft. And those players drafted (based on BPA) could be more 4-3 oriented.

      Hybrid 34,43 or wide 9: sure…More nickle/dime, probably… but there will be a lot more TURNOVER this year than anything.

      Yes, I know Pagano is a 3-4 Defensive Coach, but Telesco isn’t… He’s been around the 4-3 a majority of his career, minus the 2012 Colts. You are what you draft!

      • boltingindiego

        we did sign martins replacement as a back up in wynn.

      • arnie

        Plenty of players in the Supplemental draft and FA, to fill those needs. don’t have to “hit” in the draft for solid NT. Franklin an Barnes were the only real loses. The Chargers have 4 guys for depth that can play DE and 2 could be there, in a pinch at NT.

  • shane

    pagano is a 3-4 coach, for him to switch b/c of the lack of depth at NT??? no way, no how. they’ll get more guys with thomas via free agency/draft…not a big deal bra

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Agree. You took the words right out of my mouf.

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        Agreed x 2

    • jamfed

      Currently, SD has ONE nose tackle. The draft will be critical for maintaining proper personnel. If SD doesn’t draft a solid NT, and Cam Thomas is the only NT on the team, I’d expect some big changes…

      • Cgoodness13

        We signed that dude from Green Bay, but he’s just for depth

        • arnie

          You are correct but Harrell an Scafe played DT in college.

  • shane

    not to mention, asking ingram, johnson, and english to all change positions…crazy talk…also limiting pass rush capabilities of reyes and liuget in doing so…bad idea all around

    • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

      I second the crazy talk!

    • jamfed

      Ingram and English changed to OLB coming to SD. They’ve already changed into OLB, but if they are changed back into DE’s, then it’s PASS RUSH ONLY (no dropping into coverage). Both have the size requirement and college experience to be quality 43-DE’s.
      …Johnson could do it too… he ran some hybrid’s in Baltimore

      • shane

        DE in college vs DE in pros is totally different, ingram could prob hack it, but that’s about it. you see a ton of guys as DE in college switch to OLB. for a good DE you need size speed strength combo of a julius peppers or mario williams type, not an OLB size speed strenght of say a shaun phillips, clay matthews, terrell suggs, paul kruger guy.

  • Preston Niedert

    It the were going to a 4-3 defence then they should have hired one not kept coach John pagano.

    • jamfed

      Or hire guys like Ron Rivera (who runs a 4-3). it happens all the time…

      • boltingindiego

        rivera fell in to the position when ted cotrell was fired because he sucked as our def coordinator,

  • http://www.facebook.com/RussboSlice Russ Prado

    I can see the team running a hybrid system based on personnel but I doubt we switch to the 4-3

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      We’ll definitely see some hybrid.

  • Aaron Lane

    Sorry, but this is very speculative to say the least…

  • boltingindiego

    if their is a switch to a 4-3 it would be a hybrid style like the pats/ hawks run. Where its mostly 3-4 but a little bit 4-3.

  • brent

    this is something i’d expect to read on chargers.com

  • boltingindiego

    i can see jenkins from UGA or williams AL dropping to us depending on what the 49ers do.

    • jamfed

      I’d hope so… Nose Tackle in this draft is a TOP priority. If anything were to happened to Cam Thomas, this would NOT be a 3-4 team.

      • boltingindiego

        theres also antonio johnson we could sign as fa to back up cam.

    • blu3ny3llow

      I would be very happy if Jesse Williams fell to us in the 2nd…..wishful thinking though

  • blu3ny3llow

    Purple pills anyone???

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-P-Derrick/1654577989 James P Derrick

    …you are reaching with this one….what difference does it make what D they run as long as the play well and win?

  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    Ya no way, didn’t even finish reading this one.

    • 619chargers4life


  • nativesandiegan

    I’ve been thinking about this the last couple days myself. The reason we first went to the 3-4 was stated that we had great lb’s at the time and we wanted our 11 best players on the field all at the same time. Another influence could be that NE was having great success with it. We had Shawn Philips, Donnie Edwards, (I should research this more-can’t’ remember everyone), other solid lb’s, & shortly thereafter drafted Merriman.Also had the best NT-Jamal Williams. Now many 3-4 teams are using some 4-3 or completely changing back to 4-3. We don’t have a true 3-4 NT (330+ lbs) Cam Thomas is listed as 335 lbs but doesn’t seem to play like it, have only 1 proven inside lb(MLB Butler) with a couple backups, have Liuget & Reyes who can play great DE or DT, & Johnson to set the edge on running downs from OLB. Could also help Mouton as MLB, & help Ingram. We definitely do not have the superior LB talent for 3-4, & MM uses the scheme that plays to the player’s’ strength. Just an idea, but it helped lead the Giants to 2 Super Bowl wins (was especially effective vs NE).

  • BruisingChargers

    James, I respect your writing but, it is WAY TOO EARLY to speculate the make-up of this team or defense come September. We haven’t even gotten to the draft yet! I for one, can’t wait for the draft because I am tired of the stupid mock’s and articles like this.

  • FitzWilly

    I would only entertain such an idea if, and only IF
    you can talk this guy into coming back :)

  • 1961 Fan

    You can pencil English in on the D L, that is his best position!

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