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CHARGERS: Smith still on hunt for outside linebacker

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, May 4, 2011.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    CHARGERS: Smith still on hunt for outside linebacker
    BY SCOTT BAIR - sbair@nctimes.com | Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2011 10:51 pm

    SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers spent the NFL draft focused on defense. General manager A.J. Smith used five of his eight selections to pick defenders, including four in the first 89 picks.

    He needed a powerful, run stuffer along the defensive line. He got one in Illinois mauler Corey Liuget.

    He needed depth at cornerback and drafted a pair.

    He needed a tough tackler at inside linebacker. He got one.

    There was one box left unchecked. The Chargers didn't get a much-needed pass-rushing outside linebacker to complement the overworked Shaun Phillips.

    It wasn't for lack of effort or opportunity. That need was apparent to opposing personnel departments drooling over Smith's numerous draft picks, and several teams tried to bait the typically trade-happy Chargers into a costly move up the draft board. The phone kept ringing, but Smith wouldn't bite.

    "We were looking, and we would've liked to add one," Smith said. "But with our circumstances and the game plan we had with our five early draft picks, that edge pass rusher didn't quite fit in there. It just didn't work out for us. There were some pretty high-profile guys we valued that didn't fall in line.

    "We could've decided to pay a price, sacrificing one of our players this year in addition to something in next year's draft in order to get one of the guys we really liked. It's the one thing we had targeted and didn't get done. The price was too high to get in position."

    The Chargers included outside linebackers in their draft clusters in the first and second rounds, but they were gone before the Chargers were on the clock.

    That leaves one obvious question that won't be answered until the lockout lifts and player movement resumes: Now what?

    "We don't know where free agency is going to go," Smith said. "(Drafting an outside linebacker) didn't fall in line, but we're always looking for talent. There are always ways to acquire it, and people will speculate about the best way to do so. We could make a trade, go after an unrestricted free agent or go after people that get cut. We're always looking to add a quality football player."

    The Chargers have longed for the days of 2005, when Phillips, Shawne Merriman and Steve Foley formed a fearsome rotation than intimidated opponents and kept pass rushers fresh. They had hoped that Merriman, Phillips and Larry English would do so last season, but Merriman and English succumbed to injury.

    While the Chargers tied for second in the NFL with 47 sacks last season, too few of them came in crunch time.

    The team became increasingly reliant on Phillips, who played more than 900 snaps in 2010, way too many to optimize his effectiveness. That's why another pass rusher was deemed so vital, especially with 2009 first-rounder English having yet to prove that he can remain healthy and be a consistent pass rusher.

    While the Chargers proved to be quarterback intimidators with 61 sacks in 2006 with Phillips and Merriman doing the heavy lifting, there was a support staff to provide added pressure. With uncertainty surrounding English, the safe bet was that the Chargers would draft another pass rusher and hope for something special.

    That didn't pan out, leaving the Chargers to search for help in free agency. Until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached and free agent classifications are determined and franchise tags are negotiated in or out, it's hard to tell exactly which 3-4 outside linebackers will be available.

    The only certainty is that the Chargers value Antwan Barnes -- who had 4 1/2 sacks in 14 games with the Chargers -- enough to offer the restricted free agent a second-round tender. The only speculative fit to suggest right now is Travis LaBoy, an unrestricted free agent regardless of what happens with the CBA.

    LaBoy could be a possibility because he played last season in San Francisco under current Chargers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and had 28 tackles and five sacks as a reserve for the 49ers. That said, he suffered ligament damage in his knee -- it didn't require surgery -- last season.

    But with so much uncertainty, there's no telling where the Chargers will look for help. While Smith and coach Norv Turner said they like the pass rushers they have, they both admit to interest in adding another after missing out in the draft.

    "We've added depth, we've added youth to our defense to our team," Smith said. "The draft is over, but we never stop looking for good players."

    Contact staff writer Scott Bair at 760-739-6642 or sbair@nctimes.com. For instant coverage, go to twitter.com/nctchargers.
     
  2. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    "We could've decided to pay a price, sacrificing one of our players this year in addition to something in next year's draft in order to get one of the guys we really liked. It's the one thing we had targeted and didn't get done. The price was too high to get in position."



    I'm really interested in who that was.
     
  3. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

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    Im thinking most smart Drafters BB and AJ know that 2012 picks will be of a much higher value due to the amount of skill/instant sucsess that could be found. Im not 100% sure on who is going to be in next years draft, but im 100 that the draft class will be better as in stronger in more KEY role players that are integral to how football is played than this last draft.

    Congrats to Ingram IMO the only 1st round worthy RB of the class. But then again probably also now the norm range for a greatest back in a draft class to go now 28th-top of 2nd as highest possible a back could go. And still I would bet now that there are two 1st round RBs to be drafted by a team next year.
     
  4. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    Absolutely it will. Next year's draft stock is gonna be 10 times as good as this years, depending of course on the juniors that declare.

    Also its likely there will be a rookie wage scale by that time.
     
  5. jackfrost

    jackfrost Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad that AJ for once didn't go bundling up picks and giving stuff away for "reaches", god knows we've all seen that to many times of late and so far to no great advantage yet either.

    The only guy that really stood out as an outstanding edge rusher was Von Miller, then it was daylight from what I could see, better to show some patience and see what becomes available on the Free Agent market when all's "said and done" I do believe....

    We need someone though .........
     
  6. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

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    I dont beleive we lost anything in trading up for Weddle. That year we had 5 at most positoins available and 8 picks. We ended up with I beleive at the time 5 players for the 5 positions. Not that Charger fans have been at all satisfied with the S fix pick then.
     
  7. foober

    foober BoltTalker

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    if anyone they should get a new contract with is olb barns. He really produced last year. And if english would ever heal up we'll have three good olb's. Applewhite and the other guy will be good backups.
     
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  8. 1 COOL GUY 13x world Chmp

    1 COOL GUY 13x world Chmp Jesus gives wisdom if you pray for it! Banned

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    Suggest we trade for D players...sproles...
     
  9. charger1993

    charger1993 bad motherfucker

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    no, i think we trade V-jack for a 1st at minimum, but i would like a 1st n 3rd.
     
  10. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    We're not trading anyone that we can't replace immediately. IMO its come to the point where AJ/Norv have to reach the AFC Championship game at the absolute minimum, and our schedule is a lot tougher this year than it was last year.

    That said I think VJs stock did nothing but slide during the holdout, and of the 3 games he played last year only 1 was he a real factor. He is diluded beyond all hope if he thinks he's getting Marshall money now.
     
  11. BOLT POWER

    BOLT POWER Well-Known Member

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    I disagree VJ's worth is one reason why we missed the playoffs. Thats why we wanted so much for him. He may be a jerk, but if AJ would have paid him a few bucks he would have been a probowler again, he's in his prime riht now along with Rivers. Don't get rid of the players that produce on the field, get rid of the Buster Davis', legadu's, always injured floyd etc:beat:
     
  12. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    If you drafted Martez Wilson instead of Jonas Mouton you'd have depth inside and outside at linebacker (just saying)
     
  13. 1 COOL GUY 13x world Chmp

    1 COOL GUY 13x world Chmp Jesus gives wisdom if you pray for it! Banned

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    I'd trade VJ or Sproles. VJ had his chance to be great vs the JETs, instead he got PF penalty and couldn't come down with the ball and lost us the game, giving the jets a free pick. Also his DUI game day, WOW.

    Then he has the nerve to hold out and not honor his contract? He should be real happy, I'm not the GM!
     
  14. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Looking at the way the board developed, I'm willing to bet it was either Reed or Ayers or both. I'm willing to bet that Houston's positive test for THC shot his stock out from under him. Thing is, both Reed and Ayers had legitimate question marks, so I'm inclined to agree that trading up for one of them wasn't worth it. Had they fallen to us... hell yes, turn that pick in and take it to the bank. But traditionally you trade up for "ceiling" players and both of them were ones that were more touted for their floors than the other way around.
     
  15. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    It's a pile of bullcrap. Trade both 2nd rounders and you get up with Reed, Sheard and Ayers. It was probably one of those 3. Instead we've got Mouton and Gilchrist...
     
  16. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    I get the general sentiment that when AJ moves up, he overpays. But damn, Gilchrist and Mouton when we could have moved up into the beginning of the 2nd for a pass rusher? If AJ had scored with 2 decent draft picks, I'd see your point. But picking up STers? Hell, move up and grab the OLB.
     
  17. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    He's another bust I bet. He was there anyway--they didn't like him obviously.
     
  18. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    True with Sheard too?
    Anyway, like I said to Jackfrosting, I'd buy that line of logic if AJ had picked up anything other than STers in round 2.
     
  19. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    That's "glorified special teamers" to you, mister. ;)
     
  20. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Well... and Marshall's not helping him either (nor are the rash of NFL players that can't seem to stay out of trouble this offseason). I stil hold the same position on VJax being traded that I've held since the end of last season. If the extent of our "long-term" plans with him are to franchise him annually for every year we're able to until he's no longer needed then I'm all for trading him if... but this is a BIG "if"... the trade returns us a high-end edge rusher that still has some youth to him.

    Let me clarify a few terms here. By high-end I don't mean proven elite (then again my standards for "elite" I believe are higher than most), but with the potential in the right situation to tease those levels. By still having some youth, I'm referring to several years under 30 (meaning we could get a solid 4-5 years of high production out of him - barring injury - before we would expect a decline due to physical degradation).

    The problem with this idea is that pass-rushers are at a higher premium than elite/near-elite WR's are these days.

    I'm not expecting to trade Jackson for LaMarr Woodley here - though I'd do it in a heartbeat. But if say Trent Cole (mind you I'm just presenting an example, not a realistic one as the Eagles are stacked at WR to begin with) were available for a straight swap - I'd jump all over that trade. But I'm not trading VJax just to trade him or just to "get max value out of him before he leaves us", I'd rather get max value out of him on the field before he leaves us - because that is more likely to get us a Lombardi than any future draft pick, which for the time being would remain an unknown commodity until we were on the clock on that particular draft day.

    As for free agents, I was mistaken earlier on Brian Robison (sadly), the Vikings extended him for 3 years at $14MM total. But there are a number of other intriguing guys hitting the market that may not stand out right away as potential 3-4 OLB's but have to tools to make the switch.

    Jacob Ford (2010 Team: Tennessee) - Coming out of Central Arkansas, many scouts (I'm not going to list myself on their level, but I shared their opinion) had Ford pegged as someone who would probably have to make the transition to OLB at the pro level. He has the burst off the edge, his pass-rush moves and his handwork has improved tremendously in his 4 years with the Titans under DL Coach (now in Philadelphia) Jim Washburn, and his hips look fluid enough (I still would see him strictly as a WOLB, but if we get a productive enough rusher we can have either English or Applewhite spell Phillips). The interesting point here would be signability; Jason Babin had a great year for the Titans (who will also return 2009 1st round selection Derrick Morgan to DE), but I'm reading plenty that Babin is all-but-ready to follow Washburn to Philadelphia (where Jason started his career). This would likely increase the vlaue of the, till now, situational-pass rusher to Tennessee as he does know their system; I also have no idea if they tendered him as an RFA (I'll look into that).

    Mathias Kiwanuka (2010 team: Giants) - I'm trying to be thorough here... Kiwi is probably a little too flash for AJ's taste as he tends to stay away from the premier free agents. That said, it's entirely possible that with the Rams (and Steve Spagnuolo) likely off the Kiwi market with the drafting of Robert Quinn, the bottom may fall out of Mathias' market as Ray Edwards is considered a "safer" option without the injury history. Those injury concerns are namely of the neck variety (bulging disc) which has been treated, though this is not the first time it's been an issue for him (if I'm remembering correctly), then again he has been cleared by doctors already to play this season if there is one. The Giants did tender him with a 2nd-round RFA tender, which would only come into play if this season is an uncapped one like 2010, but it would be an interesting gamble. He's still young, he's played standing up (as a DE and as a SAM LB in the Giants' scheme), he's hugely athletic, and the Giants may be in a position to part him off for less than his designated tender amount given their depth all across the DL.

    Dave Tollefson (2010 team: Giants) - The other Giants FA, however in my estimation the less desirable one. Again, I'm putting this up here to be thorough. Tollefson can play standing up in my estimation... that said, he's little more than what Antwan Barnes already is: A solid pass-rusher who is a likely liability against the run because of poor lateral agility and inability to make plays in space. In a purely sick'em type role, he'd be just fine. Nice part though is... if we get him it's highly likely that it's on the cheap. So could be a low risk/medium reward type scenario.

    Cliff Avril (2010 team: Detroit) - And this is my dark horse. He's currently riding the highest RFA tender out there (1st and 3rd) and if rules remain in effect to keep that in place, I don't think we touch him. However... Avril has been rather adamant thus far that he has no intention of signing that tender. Now I'm not sure how open to trading him the Lions front office would be (the tender certainly suggests they're not, but they did trade for and got production out of Lawrence Jackson last season), but if the price is right I could definitely see AJ having interest. Avril has elite burst and great quick twitch, he's a Purdue guy (so you know he's on AJ's radar), good size, very good pro production, and just enough lateral agility to not be a cause for concern. Thing is, he'll likely cost slightly short of the contract that Merriman would have wanted.

    CJ Ah You (2010: Rams) - This is not a guy I'd want to bank on, but he might be worth a flier for camp at least. Physically, he's got everything it should take to succeed. Problem is, he's been nicked up every year he's been in the league and that's stunted his ability to develop.
     
  21. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Gilchrist is more than a glorified STer. Do a little research. He may have been about a half-a-round reach, but I don't get how people both want to get rookie starters and expect to win championships at the same time. The Steelers have been to the Super Bowl nearly every other year for the past 6 on the backs of a few genuine stars, several very good players, and the rest a very solid, consistent bunch of roleplayers. You're not going to draft stars with every draft pick - even high ones - sometimes they're going to be the roleplayers. But Gilchrist reminds me a lot of Weddle as a prospect.

    And Sheard went to an ideal situation for him. If he was asked to play 3-4 Rush OLB he'd have been another Robert Ayers.

    So many people are bent out of shape because we didn't get the "name" prospects when they fell to us in some form or another - or that we didn't move to get the "name" prospects. Funny how the teams that did draft those "name" prospects aren't getting the substantially higher draft grades from sports writers across the country that you would think if these "names" were really all that great of a LOCK to be great NFL players.
     
  22. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    Not so sure about the latter.
    Also, if we're using the Steelers as an example, they've gone to plenty of Super Bowls with a helluva pass rush and a mediocre secondary.

    ALSO, you followed up 'do your research' with 'he's a roleplayer.'

    There's a disconnect there. You may think that role players are just fine with our second pick of the draft when our D can't mount much of a pass rush, but, and I know this might be a shock, you may just be wrong about that.
     
  23. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Call it from the benefit of smoke and mirrors as some have, but this team that can't mount much of a pass rush finished very safely inside the Top 1/3 of the league in sacks last season. Does that mean we shouldn't be looking to improve our pass-rush or add another OLB? Obviously not, the front office has even noted as such. But it also doesn't present a case so dire that we should be trading away into a buyer's market for players whose ceilings are at best in the Anthony Spencer realm. You trade up for the Clay Matthews type prospects who have the potential/ceilings to be #1-type guys.

    Face it... 2nd round picks get spent on roleplayers around the league plenty. It's not like what we did is so uncommon. And by my do your research comment, I was referring to the fact that if you'd watched tape on Gilchrist you'd see that he's probably the most pro ready utility DB in this draft. He's not a pure centerfielder, but he's far more than just a "ST'er"; the fact that he brings added value as a returner is a bonus. Additional research would show you that Gilchrist's stock had been on the rise since the combine and Clemson's pro day and that he had a very solid floor of a high 3rd round pick (being that this draft lacked great depth at FS).

    As for Sheard... again, I refer to his tape. In the event that the play comes at him - either the play is a designed run to his side or the QB bootlegs to his side - most times he is washed out due to mediocre lateral agility and poor anchor. He has great straight-line burst and pursuit, but he struggled with long-armed tackles at the college level (Orlando Franklin worked him like a dime store trick when Pitt played Miami - and CoronaDoug can attest to that). And despite decent flexibility everywhere else in his body, his hips are stiff as all get out and it severely limits his change-of-direction ability. His best pure fit is as a RDE in a Tampa-2/Cover-2 scheme or something similar to what Atlanta runs where they utilize undersized DE's paired with larger anchors at the DT spots. As a 3-4 OLB, he offered us little more than Antwan Barnes with a shade more upside.
     
  24. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Sheard? Really? Very poor instincts, IMO.

    Mouton appears to be a pretty athletic guy. I'll wait & see on this one. I mean hell - if we're willing to do that for Mathews, why not a 2nd rounder?
     
  25. Shabba

    Shabba BoltTalker

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    If AJ packaged 2nd and 3rd's to move up to get Reed, Ayers or Sherard there would be uproar!

    "AJ giving up too much for a player with a low ceiling"
    "We could've had Wilson and Acho with our 2's"
    "The first time in years we have multiple 2nds and 3rds and we trade them away"

    I am not writing anyone we have drafted off just yet, as other than Brown, there are very few players I've seen play a full game! (Mouton I saw a couple of times and was pretty impressed with his perfomances on a poor team).

    Funny seeing some "experts" are grading a solid, if unspectacular draft, on the whole B / B-. Not the disaster some would have you believe.
     
  26. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    Yeah I don't think it would have been a 2nd round trade. AJ spoke of it costing us future picks as well, I'm betting it was Von Miller, or I'm even afraid to suggest it....Aldon Smith.
     
  27. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    We gave up a 2nd in the draft the year after that. If he wouldn't have given up future years picks, very few would have had an issue with the trade. Same thing goes for Hester.
     
  28. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    I think we gave up too much for Weddle but I'm still ok with it despite the overpayment because Weddle is still good at his position.

    The Hester deal is complete garbage.
     
  29. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Yeah, giving up a 2nd and 3rd round pick to get a FB when the vast majority of FB's are 5th-7th round picks, is ridiculous
     
  30. FCBolt

    FCBolt Well-Known Member

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    First, I doubt 3-4 teams say "He's better in a 4-3 than in our system, so let's not take him" rather it's "Who's best for us, now". Course with Liuget being our first pick, we all knew that already.

    Second, he may be the most pro-ready utility DB in this draft--my point is simply this: do you get more value out of Gilchrist and Mouton, or more out of your favorite OLB that was available early in the 2nd round. Which option helps your team more? You don't like Sheard? No big deal--I call it a group of 3 OLBs, you're maybe saying that none of the 3 were worth moving up for: Gilchrist and Mouton are worth more than any one of those guys.

    We'll see, but it's far from the slam dunk you portray it.
     

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