Improving the linebacker position should be a priority for the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2019 NFL draft, and there’s one player from the University of Alabama that should be considered.
Even though the Chargers boast a talented roster on both sides of the ball, there is one glaring hole in the middle of their defense.
The Bolts linebacking corps can be a liability for this defensive unit. Denzel Perryman is the driving force of this young group, but the middle linebacker has struggled to stay healthy since entering the NFL in 2015. Aside from Perryman, the Chargers linebacking personnel is inconsistent.
March’s free agency signing period should provide L.A. with some solutions to that problem, but the 2019 draft is loaded with superb talent on defense. One player the Chargers should have on their radar hails from college football’s kingdom of elite defensive prospects, the University of Alabama.
Mack Wilson is not the flashiest name in this years draft class, but he would be an upgrade to the Bolts’ linebacking group. The Nick Saban-coached prospect stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 231 pounds, so he has a slight build for the position, but makes up for it with brute physicality.
If the Chargers take Wilson with the 28th overall pick, the former Crimson Tide player would provide L.A.’s front-seven with strong tackling abilities, a trait highlighted by Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network.
“Booming pads when he’s in a phone booth, his coil and finishing skills are terrific. Has eaten RBs at full speed on the second level and anchored/drove the legs to avoid slipping off of giving up ground. Tackle balance on lateral scrapes needs some minor tweaking.”
The former five-star recruit out of high school can blast opposing running backs, a valuable skill to the Chargers defense. Although this unit improved on their porous run defense from 2017, they still struggled on occasion to contain opposing rushing offenses, most notably against the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional round.
Wilson could solve those issues.
He also packs some sizzle as a runner, an important skill in today’s fast-paced NFL. Joe Marino of The Draft Network said the Alabama University grad is a rangy defender capable of running sideline-to-sideline.
“Has excellent range and is capable of making plays to the sideline. Doesn’t have elite closing burst or speed, but he’s very quick and can cover ground. Needs to cleanup some inconsistencies with pursuit angles to make sure he arrives to the football on schedule.”
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Adding to Wilson’s appeal is where he played college football. The University of Alabama is a consistent producer of NFL-level defensive prospects that shine in the pros. Notable ‘Bama alum in the league include the following:
-C.J. Mosely, linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
-Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, New England Patriots
-Landon Collins, safety, New York Giants
-Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety, Washington Redskins
-Reuben Foster, linebacker, Washington Redskins
Those five players alone are impressive. Being from Alabama does not guarantee Wilson will excel in the NFL, but playing three years in Tuscaloosa with Nick Saban coaching is great preparation for the professional level. If the Chargers want a young linebacker with a high ceiling, then general manager Tom Telesco should legitimately consider drafting Wilson on April 25.