Chargers Snag Hard-Hitting LSU Safety

The Chargers knew they had to find an impact safety in the draft. After seeing the top two prospects (Mark Barron and Harrison Smith) go off the board in the first round, A.J. Smith ensured he didn't lose No. 3. Smith traded away a sixth-round pick to move up five spots in the third round and grab Brandon Taylor.

The last time the Chargers traded up for a safety it worked out pretty well. That was in 2007, when Smith traded away four picks to acquire Eric Weddle, who was named All Pro last season.

The Brandon Taylor trade cost a lot less but could prove equally significant. It was no secret the Chargers had to draft a safety and landing the draft's third-best prospect at No. 73 is a coup.

SS Brandon Taylor
Stacy Revere/Getty
Although not a physically intimidating presence (5 foot 11, 209 lbs.), Taylor is a punishing hitter who can separate opposing players from the football. He can drop down into the box and be an intimidator versus the run. He also has underrated speed, which he uses to take away the deep ball and cover tight ends in man coverage.

He is an instinctive player who has a knack for being around the football. That skill will also come in handy on special teams, where he figures to be a major contributor.

Taylor will compete for the starting job at strong safety. Also in the mix are Atari Bigby, a six-year vet signed from the Seattle Seahawks earlier this offseason, and Darrell Stuckey, a special-teams star and 2010 fourth-round pick.

The selection is another example of Smith's fondness for LSU players. Taylor is the fourth LSU player Smith has drafted since 2007. Of the previous LSU selections, only Jacob Hester is still on the roster.

The Chargers have now used their first three picks all on defense.

What did you think of Day Two of the draft? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the 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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