Scouting SD's Defensive Picks

The Chargers spent three of their first four selections on defense, fortifying a unit that finished in the bottom third of the league in 2013. To learn more about San Diego's three defensive draftees, check out this analysis from Dave-Te' Thomas, who has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL.

Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.

On CB Jason Verrett...

Verrett has been nicknamed "The Sandman" by professional scouts, as more often than not he will "take a few Z's" on the football field -- as in taking on the opponent's elite pass catcher, which is usually the "Z" (flanker) receiver. In two short seasons at Texas Christian, the California native has established himself as the best shutdown cornerback in the collegiate ranks.

Verrett might have just an adequate frame, but is blessed with exceptional speed and shows that sudden burst to close on the ball. He shows good field savvy and vision, along with the loose hips to fluidly come out of his backpedal and turn to run to the play. He is very smooth coming out of his breaks and is able to transition thanks to excellent hip flexibility and body control. He flashes good take-up speed and acceleration to close. His flexibility allows him to adjust and make plays on the ball in the air (35 pass break-ups in his last 37 games). With his timing and vertical leap, he can easily compete for the ball at its high point.

On OLB Jeremiah Attaochu...

Voted by his Georgia Tech teammates as the player on the roster "most likely to be an NFL star" prior to his senior season, Attaochu more that lived up to the locker room's expectations for him in 2013. A versatile athlete who began his Tech career as a weak-side outside linebacker before shifting to the strong-side as a sophomore, he was again shifted during his final season, taking over demanding weak-side defensive end duties that saw the 242-pound native of Ibadan, Nigeria, yield considerable bulk to the opposing offensive tackles each week.

Throughout his Georgia Tech career, the athlete who tried out for football in high school simply because he got tired of just watching it on television, has shown a special knack for wreaking havoc in the backfield, especially during his junior and senior seasons, when he combined to drop the quarterback 22.5 times in 26 contests.  

Attaochu's 31.5 sacks are more than former Atlantic Coast Conference standouts Julius Peppers (30.5) and Mario Williams (25.5) had during their distinguished careers. Tech defensive line coach Mike Pelton likens Attaochu to a pair of defensive ends in the NFL. The coach says his versatility makes him a mix of DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora, two players whom Pelton coached while he was an assistant at Troy from 2001 to 2006.

On NT Ryan Carrethers...

The South has an unrecognized nose guard talent in Arkansas State's Ryan Carrethers, a decent strong-side defensive tackle earlier in his career, only to materialize as an elite nose guard when he moved to that position as a senior. His performances in the trenches saw the Red Wolves standout lead the nation's interior down linemen with 93 tackles in 2013.  

The position change highlighted his run-stuffing ability, as Carrethers is a stout defender who plays with a strong base. He penetrates into the backfield with quickness and, with his previous experience at other positions in the trenches, he can line up at three- and five-technique spots, thanks to his ability to stack-shed inside or outside.  

Carrethers gets past reach blocks on inside runs with quick feet and strength to keep blockers on his shoulder. He usually keeps his head up to find the ball and, while he lacks acceleration to keep outside containment as a five-technique, he is consistent defeating cut blocks with his hands.

The nose guard is not elite in his first step, but has enough to be a penetrating run-stopper inside. Ball-carriers feel every bit of his strength when he tackles them, and blockers are bruised up with his punching and swiping throughout the game. His ability to play multiple positions not only comes from his quick feet but also his strength.  

Carrethers lands a big punch into the chest of his man, swipes with aggression to move the blocker aside and uses his low center of gravity to his advantage, getting leverage to stack one-on-one and shed to either direction when playing two-gap at nose guard. He senses zone blocks, using the blockers' inertia versus them with a strong push to get into the backfield. He also demonstrates the ability to anchor well versus single and double blocks, making it difficult for him to be moved once he anchors.

Which of San Diego's undrafted rookies have a chance to make a difference in '14? Talk about it inside the message boards.

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