AJ Smith, Norv Turner and Dean Spanos have all agreed that pass rush is one of our biggest priorities in the offseason. We need to get impact players on the defensive side of the ball and try to get that ball to Philip Rivers and the offense as many times as possible.
Time to make some predictions on what our starting defense will look like for the 2012 season. Here is the starting defense I will predict:
Up front: I think Luis Castillo will take a pay cut and stick around on the starting defensive front with Vaughn Martin getting in the rotation with Liuget and Castillo. Also, I think that the Chargers bring back Antonio Garay to be the anchor in the middle of the defense.
Outside linebackers: Now this is where we get some new things happening. AJ doesn’t like to bring in big name free agents that are in the prime of their careers and he would rather pick up a veteran player that still has a little bit of tank in the gas. That is where the Chargers pursue Robert Mathis from the Indianapolis Colts and try to make him an outside linebacker. Shaun Phillips will return for another season and Antwan Barnes will be the backup. On passing downs, Mathis can shift to defensive end and Barnes can be brought in.
Middle linebackers: After picking up Robert Mathis in free agency, the Chargers look toward a middle linebacker in the draft and have their eyes on Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama, but then Luke Kuechly slips down to them at 18. We make the move to pick up Kuechly and he takes the starting job away from Takeo Spikes. It could mean that Spikes is gone unless he wants to get in a rotation with Kuechly and Butler. Donald Butler will hope to improve from a season of experience and Jonas Mouton will be returning from injury to add more depth at the position.
Safety: Eric Weddle will be back to try and improve on an All-Pro season. The Chargers will take Lavonte David out of Nebraska in the draft and have him compete with Darrell Stuckey for the strong safety job. David was a middle linebacker in college, but AJ has a habit of drafting players and trying to convert them into other positions.
What are your predictions?