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Liuget needs to adjust to make Chargers' pick worth it

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted April 28, 2011 @ 10:25 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Despite having the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense in 2010 and finishing tied for second in the NFL with 47 sacks, the Chargers had plenty of concerns about that side of the ball, mainly in generating a pass rush. Eleven of those sacks came from All-Pro OLB Shaun Phillips, and the next highest Chargers sacker was LB Kevin Burnett, who is a free agent. Larry English, a first-round pick from two seasons ago, was supposed to complement Phillips, but he has yet to show his talent on the field. With all that, the team needed to acquire a young pass rusher who could take blockers' attention away from Phillips.

That's what made the pick of Illinois DL Corey Liguet with the 18th pick so surprising for GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner. While Liuget is a strong player with good size and speed, he doesn't necessarily match what the team does on defense. The Chargers are a classic 3-4 defense, and Liuget will be asked to play the 5-technique, manning the end of the line where he'll be asked to not only stop the run and pass, but also clog up blockers. Most had Liuget pegged as the perfect 4-3 defensive tackle, due to his athleticism and ability to play gaps in the opposing offensive line. Now he will have to learn how to come off the edge of the line against more athletic tackles.

Six years ago, Smith drafted Northwestern DT Luis Castillo with a first-round pick and plugged him in at defensive end. Now they've picked another interior lineman from a Big Ten school and are moving him outside. Since he was picked, Castillo has made the transition well and become an above-average anchor on the San Diego line. While there are serious doubts, it's not impossible to predict Liuget doing the same.  


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