Are the Chargers Really In Need of a Veteran Addition at OLB?

Yesterday we analyzed whether or not Dwight Freeney is a good fit for the Chargers as replacement for the injured 18th overall pick in 2012, Melvin Ingram.

Today I wanna figure out if the Bolts would do fine without any addition of a (veteran) pass rusher in 2013. Therefore I´m gonna take a closer look at the outside linebackers who are already on board.

Let´s get this thing started right away.

Jarret Johnson
With or without a healthy Melvin Ingram on the field – Jarret Johnson is the starter on the left side of the linebacker line next season. 2012 was his first year in a Chargers uniform after spending the last nine years playing for the Baltimore Ravens. Johnson basically is a run defender…and a pretty good one. On passing downs he shows great strength but he does not have the quickness to beat blockers off the line. Although there´s only little competition for the starting job at his position, the 31-year old veteran (turns 32 in August) will have to prove something this year, as he´s definitely not coming off a stud season 2012.

Larry English
Larry English has been selected 16th overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers (over Clay Matthews!) with the idea of replacing the best pass rusher at that time, Shawne Merriman, who announced his retirement this off-season. English is considered a bust by most of the fans as he fell short of expectations so far, missing eight games in 2010 and 11 games in 2011. In three seasons, English has 73 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Basically he has good speed rush off the edge but lacks strength to beat the offense with a bull rush like Johnson. But with Melvin Ingram down, expectations are high on Larry English to step up and silence his (numerous) critics with a healthy and consistent season 2013.

Tourek Williams
Already in his rookie season for the San Diego Chargers, the athletic big man out of Florida International could see significant playtime, if General Manager Tom Telesco decides to not sign any (veteran) pass rusher this offseason. The 2013 sixth round pick for the Chargers, recorded 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in college last year. The former defensive end is improving as a pass rusher but he struggles stopping the run or dropping into coverage. He did not face tough competition in college but his speed and agility should easily translate to the NFL.

Frank Beltre
The 6’2” and 240 pounds undrafted free agent Frank Beltre played defensive end for Towson. On his pro day, Beltre showed good speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds. In comparism to the 40-yard dash times of the first round selections Jarvis Jones with 4.92 seconds, and Alec Ogletree with 4.70 seconds, this number becomes even more impressive. As a defensive end, Beltre showed great quickness at the snap, decent pursuit on plays away from him and a constant drive to not give up on the play. The Chargers´ outside linebacker position lacks depth even with a healthy Melvin Ingram; it would be a big surprise if he´d not make the final roster.

Devan Walker
The 6’2″ and 236 pounds undrafted free agent Devan Walker already played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense in college; at Southeastern Louisiana, against a “not too tough” competition. The former defensive end was able to record 12 tackles for loss and 46 total tackles. Not sure if he already has the required strength to play the position in the NFL, but it looks like he has enough quickness to get to the quarterback.

Thomas Keiser
As Ernie reported earlier today, the Chargers signed the 24-year old ex-Carolina Panther Thomas Keiser hours ago. I don´t know too much about the guy, but what I do know, is that he went undrafted in 2011 and he played defensive end in college and for the Carolina Panthers. So, just like the college DEs Tourek Williams and Frank Beltre, he will be plugged in at outside linebacker in the Chargers 3-4 scheme.

So, BoltFam, if we don´t sign Dwight Freeney or another veteran this offseason, then this is the player personnel we got on the roster at outside linebacker for the upcoming season.

Your thoughts? Should we give Dwight Freeney the 2-year deal worth $8.5 million he is asking for – or can we go with these young guys (and the old one…lol) into the season 2013? Or will Tom Telesco be able to get him in at a cheaper price? What if Larry English goes down with an injury again, who could you see starting at the right side? Or do you actually believe in Larry English and his ability to finally be a reliable part on the defense? Many questions could be asked here…

It´s your turn. Share your opinion on the current OLB situation and those young guys on the roster.

Thank you for reading!

BoltnRoll!

 

Topics: San Diego Chargers

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  • http://twitter.com/BReisinger86 Brandon Reisinger

    I think you gotta finally give English his shot. Much like Ingram last year I don’t think he has seen the field enough to say he is a bust. If he gets a full offseason with the 1st team who knows. With that said you defiantly gotta bring some depth in, in the Event English doesn’t work out or gets injured

    • MC Boltman

      Well, its his time now to prove his critics wrong. Even with a veteran on board, he´d see significant playtime I guess.

  • Ioane

    You forgot about Gamble.

    • tubbs45

      He is on the Red Skins since last december

      • Boltsfan

        Lol so much for Gamble then!!

    • Boltsfan

      He was great in preseason, but pedestrian when used in real games…Who knows though.

    • MC Boltman

      Yep, tubbs45 said it already…he´s been released some time ago…

  • Lee

    i think starx is still more important. protecting rivers is still our main goal

    • MC Boltman

      I hear ya…Starks met with Cardinals 2 days ago…if he wants a starting job, then SD would be the wiser choice IMO

  • Antonio Spellman

    I like the young guys and it’s consistent with the theme. Give them a chance

    • MC Boltman

      Yeh…but what if English goes down…Williams or Beltre (or now also Keiser) as starters? hmm…would definitely be a gamble.

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

    If a FA isn’t signed… you just have to hope that English has the BIGGEST chip on his shoulder, and something to prove (and can stay healthy)… and Tourek, or one of the younger guys can make an impact. Stranger things have happened. This comment feels like a broken record to me, but probably because it’s troof.

    • MC Boltman

      Man, this could be his chance! I think English has the potential to be solid OLB, but his injury issues are very “annoying” (for us and of course for him). We´ll see, it´s his time (probably) to show he´s not a bust.

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

    What’s interesting is that nobody voted for Tourek Williams (out of 300+ votes) when I posted that poll after the draft RE: “Which draft pick was your favorite”. Yikes… lol. Wonder if he would get more votes if I posted it today?

    • MC Boltman

      Haha…for sure. Although Frank Beltre seems to a very interesting guy too.

  • Alter Ego

    Its a no brainer. You line up with who you got. Freeney is not ideal for multiple reasons (not withstanding that as fantastic as he has been at end – he still is a maybe at OLB -which he doesn’t want to play). He wasn’t a fit before Mighty Mel’s injury and would be a hail mary move even if Telesco signed him now. I’m not convinced he would beat out English to start anyway.

    We currently have several guys to include English that may prove to be a rock star given the opportunity….and there is a whole lot of opportunity now. The open competition at that spot is going to create a frenzy of “prove you belong” play.

    Let me also point out that guys around the league are going to be cut – some who are studs – as a FA, the Chargers go right to the top of the list on who gives them the best chance to walk in pissed off and win a job. I like that.

    If we are going to add any other vets…lets go with Starks and/or Charles Woodson. Better use of $ and more prudent in addressing our needs.
    Its only day 4 of OTAs…shit happens. Better now than the last practice before the opener. Give our pro players a chance…you can’t find gold unless you mine.

    • MC Boltman

      Interesting thought that English would outplay Freeney…not too sure about that, but you´re right Freeney´s not the best fit for a 3-4 scheme. Don´t think English would outplay him, but I would welcome it he´d have his “breakout” season in 2013.

      Well, Woodson would be nice, but even more expensive than Freeney. Starks is definitely affordable. He´s not too agile and mobile, but even for depth purpose he´d make sense.

  • nativesandiegan

    Been pondering defense for couple weeks now. Coach said he plays best players; example: best 5 o-line so tries Clary at RG, Fluker, Hardwick, Rinehart, & King.
    Now apply that to defense. TT stated that if sign Freeney will adjust scheme to fit personnel (probably a condition for Freeney to sign with us). Who would our best d-linemen be: Reyes, Liuget, Freeney (if signed and adjust scheme to personnel on passing downs), & figure out the fourth DE or DT. Could be someone such as Keiser, Wynn, or even Larry English or Tourek Williams. Personally I believe the pass-rush & penetration skills of Reyes & Liuget are being wasted on just occupying blockers in the 3-4. In this formation you then pick out your 3 best LB: Butler, ?,?. On running downs change back to the 3-4 and rotate in (not on every running down) someone who can occupy 2 blockers to keep Reyes and Liuget fresh; and your best groupings of LB (Butler – except for an occasional breather, Teo, Johnson, and choose among English, Kaiser, or Tourek.
    I would sign Freeney for this scenario, and the younger players could learn pass-rush moves from one of the best. Would also improve our pass-blocking by going up against him in practice every day.
    Something to think about anyway.

    • nativesandiegan

      I forgot my reply as to why didn’t TT draft a rb or NT? TT said because his head coach wanted a qb to develop.

      • MC Boltman

        Yeah, I mentioned this in my piece about the Bolts ground game. I was very surprised (and not too amused) that he picked a QB, when there still the RBs Kerwynn Williams and Cierre Wood were available – or the NT/DTs Kwame Geathers or Mike Purcell. (of course luckily we got Geathers as UDFA).
        I thought drafting a QB would´ve been a good idea next year…maybe a fourth (or even third) talent. But whatever, lets see what Sorensen is able to do…

        • nativesandiegan

          When TT said it Mike was standing right next to him with a bit of a smirk on his face. It was obviously a concession by TT; possibly even part of the reason Mike signed on here as HC (having direct input on draft.

          • MC Boltman

            Maybe…but I think he also meant it when he said that a great QB like Rivers was a huge part of his decision to come to San Diego. Whatever, we picked up a (obviously) decent RB (Hill) and NT (Geathers) after the draft…so in the end I´m fine with the last pick – if it makes McCoy happy…:)

          • nativesandiegan

            Yup

    • Alter Ego

      Our entire defense assembled is with the 3-4 base in mind. We drafted to support that as well. Signing Freeney does not support the scheme. Last year the D was 6th against the run and 9th for total yrds allowed -that’s good stuff right there. That happend because of Reyes and Liuget playing where they play – why screw that up. Freeney (while a great player) isn’t financially or schematically a good fit.
      NOTE TO ALL : There are 32 teams that so far have said ” your good Freeney – but your not for us”. To include the Colts with Pagano as HC. He is a free agent for a bunch of reasons. When he drops his salary demand somebody will pick him up because that takes the sting out of being a “maybe”.

      • MC Boltman

        Well, I think too 3-4 base will be the scheme for 2013 in San Diego. But its not that unlikely they´d try some hybrid versions when Freeney´s on board. Get creative and get the best out of your players…but whatever in the end Freeney probably won´t wear blue and gold next season…

      • nativesandiegan

        How many drives did the D stop with a big play or turnover? How much time did opposing qb’s have to throw from the pocket with no pressure at all? It’s not just about yardage.
        Freeney has already lowered his salary demands. Still, we probably can’t afford it until June 1, and there may be a verbal gentlemen’s agreement already in place which could be agreeably voided if Dwight’s’ offered a contract greater than a certain amount. I never saw us signing a more pricey FA before June anyway.

        • Alter Ego

          I don’t think Freeney is our guy…apparently neither does Tom Telesco.

    • MC Boltman

      Well, there could be some situational adjustment if Freeney´s on the board, but not too much IMO. But a good coach is creative and willing to try to get the best out of his player personnel. You got some interesting ideas…but with or without Freeney, I think the 3-4 defense will be the dominant scheme Pagano´s gonna go for in 2013

      • nativesandiegan

        I agree about the 3-4 as dominant given the situation. If opponent is passing 60% of time & we have a Freeney then I’d use 4-3 with occasional blitz from everywhere; not predictable.
        Looking back when Giants won 1st Superbowl with Eli, they won by getting pressure from 2 great DE’s in a 4-3 and penetration inside which also ruins running plays and gets TFL. I love the 3-4 if you have personnel for it, but I’m frustrated with wasting 2 great, penetrating DT’s just occupying blockers

        • MC Boltman

          Well, if the whole unit can´t work it out to be successful on a regular basis with such a versatile play style, then yeah go for it! Hope the young guys can keep track and don´t get too much confused :) But cool idea…as I said, as coach you better be creative #boltup

  • Moose

    Definitely a fan of Beltre. he has amazing instincts and pursuit of the rock. and agree that Larry should take this as an opportunity to break out. Addressing LT situation still takes priority.

    • MC Boltman

      Yeah, he also got my attention… somehow it seems I´m on the way onto his bandwagon :)

  • OP Bolt

    Regarding Freeney – If we can get him at a decent price, great. However, the length of the visit and no contract at this point suggests that they could not agree on price for value. I trust (so far) the management to make a good value judgment and not mortgage the future for an older, possibly declining player.
    I tend to agree with Paul – at this point it’s too early to panic. Let’s see how the guys on the field perform. There will likely be serviceable/affordable players available later.

    Like others, I hope English, Tourek, et. al., will step up, but it would be foolhardy to hope English (or any of the others), could make it through the season without some injury. Looks like Keiser is an acknowledgement of that.

    In any case, whoever plays will often need to be able to play all downs in a series, because of the increasing use of the hurry-up offense (Denver, KC, Philly, etc.) which will require whoever is on the field to stay on the field. Which is why I think the strategic direction – younger, faster, more athletic has to factor into value judgments on older players.

  • arnie

    looks like the Chargers have some good young potions to step up. with no offer to Freeney, probably to much money, TT might hold off until training camp, to see if anybody emerges.

    • MC Boltman

      Would be a gamble, but could become reality..yes

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