By Jake Hefner
When the free agency period started back in March, Charger fans had to watch plenty of defensive veterans walk out the door and into the locker room of other teams. Two of those players that signed elsewhere were nose tackles Antonio Garay (Jets) and Abrayu Franklin (Colts). Garay, was a fan favorite for years with his crazy beard and hair styles plugged the hole in the middle for the Chargers defensive line. Franklin was signed as a street free agent last season and quickly became the anchor up front for the defense. Now with both Garay and Franklin long gone, the only veteran nose tackle on the team, is former 5th round pick Cam Thomas. Thomas was a rotational player last season and in the minimal time he got to play he played well.
So with Thomas now penciled in as the starter in the middle, who sits behind him on the depth chart? Who will rotate in to give the mammoth nose tackle a breather?
Unfortunately, the Chargers didn’t address the nose tackle position in this years draft….Or did they?
Undrafted free agents Kwame Geathers from Georgia and Byron Jerideau from South Carolina have more than enough size to fill up the gaps that were left behind. Geathers is not short on a football pedigree and NFL bloodlines. Last name Geathers sound familiar? It should, 4 members of Kwame’s family (father, both brothers and uncle) have played in the NFL. Geathers is impossible to go un-noticed. At 6’5 342lbs, he logged 40 tackles (five for a loss) and 1 sack in 14 starts for Georgia last season. Perhaps Geathers most impressive performance came against Alabama in 2012. Geathers consistently applied pressure, taking on double teams and making tackles in the backfield. Originally slated to be taken in the middle rounds of the draft, Geathers may wind up being a steal.
Another possible undrafted gem that fell to the Chargers came in the form of Bryron Jerideau. The only way you could miss this guy is if he was hiding behind a building. After the seven rounds of the draft had passed, Jerideau had a choice to make between the Texans and the Chargers. He choose to come to San Diego because he believed he had a better opportunity to play. Jerideau is a physical specimen with freakish strength. Given the title as the “strongest game cock ever” Jerideau holds school records at South Carolina for bench press at 500 pounds and a combined 1,455 pounds on bench press, squat and clean lift. In his years as a run eating nose tackle, Jerideau recorded 56 tackles, six sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Jerideau’s college game highlight came against LSU in 2012 where he man handled the offensive line and making multiple tackles in the backfield. Plain and simple if Jerideau wasn’t playing football he would probably be in the “Strongman” competition.
With the Chargers lack of depth at the nose tackle position, it would honestly not surprise me if both of these guys ended up making the final 53. The Chargers could greatly benefit from another mix of fresh bodies on the line with Jerideau and Geathers.
Do you see these guys making noise in training camp?