Will the Chargers go Jaye Walking?

San Diego's defense is bracing for an overhaul. It could start on the defensive line, where seven-year veteran Luis Castillo (due $4.9 million in 2012) is likely to be released. That will create a need up front; and the Chargers got an up-close look at a potential replacement at last week's Senior Bowl.

Florida D-lineman Jaye Howard had no problem selling himself to NFL teams during Senior Bowl week.

"I'm a penetrator," Howard said. "I'm explosive and I cause havoc all day long. I make a living in the backfield."

Sounds terrific, especially to a Chargers team that struggles to knock quarterbacks out of rhythm. Howard's self-analysis isn't just talk, either. He backed it up on the field by posting 20 tackles for loss in his final two seasons with the Gators. His senior campaign was especially impressive, as he chipped in 5.5 sacks and finished fourth on the team with 65 tackles.

His strong showing earned him All-SEC Honorable Mention and an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

"I was able to show scouts what I have to offer, going against the best players in the nation," said Howard, who posted two tackles in Saturday's Senior Bowl game. "I am just adjusting from the Florida game to what's expected at the next level."


DL Jaye Howard
Al Messerschmidt/Getty
Helping with that adjustment were the Washington Redskins coaches, who coached the South team in Mobile, Ala. Washington's defensive staff includes two former head coaches -- coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris -- so he had a fount of NFL knowledge at his disposal.

"They're real technicians," Howard said of the Redskins coaches. "They will stay on you until you get it."

Howard is not entering this process completely green. He has shared a huddle at Florida with players like Brandon Spikes and Carlos Dunlap, who are now making impacts on Sundays. He often speaks with Dunlap and another former Gator, Mike Pouncey, about how to successfully make the leap from college to the NFL.

He also played for a defensive coordinator with pro experience, as Dan Quinn coached the defensive lines for four NFL franchises between 2003 and 2010. Quinn used both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes at Florida, which gives Howard a sizable advantage going forward.

"I'm able to play end in a 3-4 or be a penetrating three-technique in a 4-3 scheme," he said. "It doesn't matter. Whatever a team wants me to play, I'm willing to play."

Howard has a goal for each stop during the draft process. At the Senior Bowl, his mission was to prove he has a great work ethic and that he runs to the football and makes plays behind the line. At the NFL Combine later this month, his goal is to run a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash.

And at the NFL Draft in April, he plans to cross "increased pass rush" off one team's list of offseason needs. Whether that team will be the Chargers remains to be seen.



Discuss the Senior Bowl and Chargers draft news in the Insiders Draft Talk Forum.




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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