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!