With the No. 18 overall pick, the San Diego Chargers select Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois.
The San Diego Chargers made a very safe move with their first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. In a move that seemed very unlike General Manager A.J. Smith, the Chargers did not trade up, choosing instead to wait it out, and they certainly reaped the reward.
Without giving up any picks, Smith picked up a player who stands both to start from Day One and to make a serious impact along a defensive line that could use some help. Liuget was a major disruptive force as an Illini, racking up 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble over his three years in Illinois. He has a non-stop motor, and plays with the kind of mean streak that coaches love to see in defensive linemen.
The most important thing from a scouts perspective, though, is the improvement that Liuget showed over his three years. Not only did his numbers grow, but he has gotten bigger, stronger, and more disruptive in that short time, which bodes well for his transition to the professional level, as well as for his ability to progress further in the NFL.
While Liuget was a good pick, and a safe pick, there are still some question marks surrounding this pick. Despite the need for another defensive end to play alongside Luis Castillo, I thought that the Chargers really had bigger fish to fry.
One position of need was cornerback, and while San Diego did address that position by choosing both Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright, Prince Amukamara was still on the board at the No. 18 spot, and could've been a sure-fire replacement for Antoine Cason or a great groomer to play behind Quentin Jammer.
As far as defensive line goes, there were also (arguably) better players available on the board at No. 18, including Baylor DT Phil Taylor and Cal DE Cameron Jordan. Phil Taylor would've locked down the nose tackle position for the next few years at the very least, and would've allowed the Chargers to move DT Antonio Garay to the defensive end spot, where he could've maximized his pass-rush ability. Jordan, on the other hand, is more physically gifted than Liuget, though he lacks the base strength of a 4-3 DT.
Overall, though, the Liuget pick was smart and safe from the Chargers upper management, and ensured them that they would have at least one contributor from the class (a gift, considering the state of the last few draft classes).
Final Grade: B/B+Back to the Los Angeles Chargers Newsfeed