Merriman the new Seau of San Diego?

The last time the San Diego Chargers picked a linebacker in round one was when Junior Seau heard his name called on April 23, 1990. Seau went on to become the face of the Chargers' defense and they have the same plans for Shawne Merriman, fifteen years later.

Like Junior Seau, Shawne Merriman is a game-changer with an attitude and fiery demeanor on the football field.

The hope is Merriman will have the same success and tenure on the football field as the man who makes San Diego his home till this day.

"He's 273 pounds and he ran 4.66," Assistant General Manager Buddy Nix exclaimed. "He vertical jumped 40 inches, which is unbelievable. The great thing about the guy is that he plays hard all the time."

While Seau played on the inside and wreaked havoc from an emotional standpoint and stuffed the run, Merriman will mirror the dynamic of Steve Foley, rushing the passer and chasing down anyone who comes his way.

Like Foley a year ago, head coach Marty Schottenheimer has a similar mindset on the use of Merriman:

"We're going to afford him every opportunity we can in some role to rush the passer. We've got to get that part of our defensive work done. We'll find a way for him whether it's with his hand on the ground or standing in a two-point stance. He's a very physical player. He plays with great energy. We're going to find ways to use him from the outset."

Just as he did as a freshman with Maryland, the Chargers are expecting him to come in as a rookie and contribute five-plus sacks off the bat while being a force in the turnover game that Schottenheimer holds so high.

Given his history of sacking the quarterback, Merriman should not have too much trouble getting his sacks and many believe he will regularly reach double-digit totals in that department.

"He has tremendous power – generates a lot of energy," Schottenheimer said of his newest toy on defense.

Merriman admits he took some of his game from players like Junior Seau and Ray Lewis – two players who everyone have tried to mold their game after.

He also knows LaVar Arrington, having played basketball with Arrington's brother and often solicits advice from the Washington Pro Bowler.

He has also followed the Chargers defense this past season and knows their strengths and weaknesses. He also knows his role in the 3-4 defense.

"I know they have some good players on defense," Merriman said. "I know they were top in the league in run stopping. I knew they needed probably a little more extra help in the pass rushing department, that's why I can fit in."

With Foley on one side of the field and Merriman on the other, quarterbacks will learn to dread playing the Chargers. That is the scheme Schottenheimer drew up when he switched to the 3-4 defense a year ago.


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