Chargers Defense Gets [Corey] Liuget

The Chargers, not surprisingly, used their first-round pick on a defensive end. But with Da'Quan Bowers and Cameron Jordan still on the board, San Diego opted for Illinois' Corey Liuget as A.J. Smith looks to restore some bite to his defense.

Corey Liuget (6-foot-3, 300 lbs.) spent three seasons wreaking havoc on Illinois' defensive line. He racked up 125 tackles, 25.5 TFLs and eight sacks in his career, which was apparently enough to get the attention of Chargers GM A.J. Smith.

San Diego needed help at D-end, where Jacques Cesaire and Travis Johnson are both clear to depart as free agents. Nonetheless, it is mildly surprising San Diego went with Liuget over Da'Quan Bowers -- who a couple months ago was a candidate to be the top overall pick -- and Cameron Jordan, who played a 3-4 scheme at Cal.

Liuget insists he has the skill-set to excel in San Diego's 3-4 defense.

"I did it all," said Liuget of his time at Illinois. "1-technique, 3-technique, 5-technique, whatever the coaches needed me to do."

When asked at his Pro Day about the prospect of playing in a three-man front, he responded: "Yes, I most definitely could do that."


DT Corey Liuget
Scott Boehm/Getty
Liuget, who figures to be the opening-day starter opposite Luis Castillo, has all the tools to make an instant impact. He has an explosive first step and quick hands, allowing him to disengage from blockers and slice into the backfield. He also has exceptional strength and is recognized as the biggest hitter amongst this year's crop of defensive linemen.

One reason the Chargers may have opted for Liuget over Bowers and Jordan is his motor. He is a hustle player who will work up and down the line of scrimmage. He can chase down scrambling quarterbacks and catch ball-carriers from behind; and when he catches a player, he goes for the strip.

The selection of Liuget continues the youth movement along San Diego's defensive line. He will be part of a rotation that will also feature 2009 fourth-round pick Vaughn Martin and 2010 fifth-round pick Cam Thomas. That trio, along with Castillo and Antonio Garay, should provide the core of Don Johnson's defensive line for years to come.

The selection should also shore up a run defense that had too many holes last season, as highlighted by a devastating December loss to the Raiders in which Oakland racked up more than 250 yards on the ground.



What do you think of the selection of Corey Liuget? Discuss in the message boards.




Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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