Chargers Draft Prospectus XVI

Defensive emphasis. That is how AJ Smith described the Draft philosophy this year. Under John Butler, the Draft board fell as they envisioned it would, a few breaks, a few lucky bounces and the pick they wanted all along fell into their laps. This year the top half of the Draft is jumbled with uncertainty. Especially between the 15th pick in round one and the No. 46 pick overall. Heaping spoonfuls of different scenarios can happen.

"We go through ‘What-if?' ‘What if this? What if that?' I can't remember any scenario that comes in the past with a phone call, that we have not had in our minds and discussed and were ready to go," said acting General Manager AJ Smith.

Be prepared it the motto, go through every scenario so nothing surprises. Well even if the Chargers have 7 or 8 players on their "target" list, it could get interesting.

One of those names is another defensive tackle. We all know that defensive tackle is a hot commodity, especially in the first round. Will there be any that fall is the real question. In the first it seems unlikely the top four (you know who they are) will fall to 15, leaving the Chargers looking at William Joseph, the enigmatic talent from Miami or waiting until round two to shore up the defensive tackle position. Both propositions figure to be risky.

Nick Eason of Clemson has inched his way towards the top half of round two, partly due to a run on defensive tackles and round one, and partly due to talent. Eason is talented, there is no doubt and with everyone searching for the next Warren Sapp, the position continues to be overvalued and draft prospects rise farther than they should. Still defensive line is considered to be the deepest position in this year's draft.

Eason had 62 tackles, including seven sacks and nine total tackles for loss in 2002, a key reason Clemson showed great improvement defensively. Clemson gave up just 330 yards per game, an improvement by over 60 yards per game over 2001. Eason's seven sacks were the most by a Clemson defensive tackle since current All-Pro Trevor Pryce had 7.5 in 1996. He originally played end for Clemson as a freshman.

Eason was named to the Goodworks Team by the American Football Coaches Association, just the second Tiger to be honored; he is the only Atlantic Coast Conference player to be named to the team that honors players for their considerable community service activities. He was the first player in school history to graduate with two years of eligibility remaining.

Eason has worked hard in the weight room in the off season; he had a 750 pound lift in the squat this past summer, a Clemson record. He started 35 of 47 games, recording 153 tackles (87 solos) with 15 sacks for minus 128 yards, 30 stops for losses of 194 yards and 38 quarterback pressures, caused and recovered a pair of fumbles, and deflected six passes.

Nicholas Eason
Defensive Tackle
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 298
Arm length: 32 5/8
Hands: 9 ¼
40 Times: 5.01/5.06
Vertical Jump: 28"
Broad Jump: 8' 8"
Short Shuttle: 4.52
Three Cone Drill: 7.51
Squat: 750 pounds
Bench (high): 465 pounds
Bench Press: 26 reps

"Offers a good amount of upside potential and versatility. Can be used at defensive tackle, end or in a two gap scheme. Must improve his playing strength but a solid prospect and citizen who will be an asset to any roster." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Eason is a good worker in the weight room who never misses a workout. He can hold the point and does a nice job of fighting off low blocks, is quick to locate the ball and make the play. He shows a strong burst to run down the line, stays on his feet and protects his legs, working hard to refit his hands when the initial move does not work. Shows some power in his pass rush and has the speed to flush the quarterback out of the pocket. He uses his hands well to push the pocket, is a high motor athlete who plays with intensity.

Eason is one of those top notch character guys so often talked about. His work with charities speaks volumes about his work ethic and strong presence of community.

Eason has had his career slowed by injuries. On December 16th, 2000 Eason suffered a torn Achilles tendon while intercepting a pass in practice. He sprained his knee in 2002 and has had extensive cardiac tests to determine if he had a heart ailment, the tests turned up negative.

Still he has an explosive first step and can beat opponents with his first move. Beyond that he has trouble at the line with his technique of shedding blockers, but those faults are teachable. He progressed during Senior Bowl week after a slow start and really started to move up Draft boards by the end of the week.

The Chargers are looking at Eason in the second round as they look to add depth at end and tackle and were the only team to show serious interest in him durin Senior Bowl week. Eason never quite progressed into the dominant force many thought he would be but he does have a strong motor and with some development could be a force on the inside. With John Butler at Senior Bowl week, you have to wonder if one of John's final picks is made on Eason.

Special thanks to Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Preview who contributed to this report.

Denis Savage can be reached at or via the following link: Denis Savage

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