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…