There were a lot of people across the NFL scratching their heads when the Chargers selected Michigan LB Jonas Mouton in the second round, since most had projected him being drafted toward the end of the draft. San Diego didn't waver, however, and they have big plans for the player who led the Big Ten in tackles last season with 117 stops.
With a lot of uncertainty at linebacker due to free agency, the team needed depth at the position. Donald Butler, the Bolts' second-round choice from 2010, missed all of his rookie season with a torn Achilles, and though the team is still very high on his talent and potential, they are not counting on him to make a huge impact in '11. Mouton played on the outside in college, but is a sure tackler and can run sideline-to-sideline, and the Chargers are hopeful he can make an adjustment to play wherever they need him to this season. The team is also hoping he can rush the passer and take some pressure off OLB Shaun Phillips.
Contributions are also expected from Mouton in another area San Diego needs a huge boost: special teams. The way we hear it, the linebacker — along with fellow Day Two picks Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright — will play on all four units of the special teams, helping out in both return and coverage lineups. Last season, San Diego was devastated by important players going down with injuries, depleting their depth and ability to field competitive special-teams units. Chargers special-teams coach Rich Bisaccia was a huge supporter of Mouton's in the team's war room, an indication as to why San Diego used such a high draft choice on him.
Many of the concerns surrounding the pick have to do with Mouton's slow foot speed and small frame, but the Chargers think they have found a steal. With the free-agency questions still lingering, GM A.J. Smith believes he has added depth at linebacker while also improving the area that led to the team's downfall a season ago.