Alvin Smith fighting for a spot

The Chargers' defensive line is one of the league's best units, but also one its shallowest. All three starters are capable of dominating, and former undrafted free agent Jacques Cesaire is a stellar reserve, but beyond those four there is no reliable depth. Looking to both rectify and take advantage of that situation, nose tackle Alvin Smith signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent.

Alvin Smith is a 6-foot-2, 322 lb. run-stopper from Oregon State. During his last two years there, he totaled 46 tackles, including 10 for a loss, and three sacks.

Throughout the course of the off-season, Smith will battle Ryon Bingham for the right to back up Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams. It is a role Smith is confident he can handle.

"My goal for my rookie season is to make an impact and to help the Chargers win some games. There were a lot of teams that were interested in me, but once I checked out the situation in San Diego, I told my agent to make that work," Smith said.

Other than the Chargers' glaring need for defensive line depth, Smith was also attracted to the fact that the Chargers give undrafted free agents a legitimate chance to earn roster spots. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, 13 of the team's 53 players were signed as undrafted free agents.

"They definitely give you a fair shot," Smith said. "All a rookie can ask for is a fair shake."

Smith was familiar with this Chargers regime before he even arrived in San Diego. His collegiate coach, Mike Riley, is a former Chargers head coach, and Riley told Smith that playing for Coach Schottenheimer is an opportunity he should seize.

"He's taught me a lot already," said Smith of Schottenheimer. "Coach Riley was right when he said Coach Schottenheimer really knows what he's doing."

Smith is equally impressed with his position coach, Wayne Nunnely.

"Playing for Coach Nunnely is definitely a plus," Smith said. "He's their longest-tenured coach for a reason. If you make the team he is going to play you, and that's a big motivating factor. To play in the NFL has always been a dream of mine, and I feel Coach Nunnely gives me a chance to do that.

"He's been working with my already on my technique and my overall knowledge, and I think he can take my game to a whole ‘nother level. I know I have the raw abilities, but I think he can help me get my conditioning up and my technique down."

If Smith can continue the progress he has made already this offseason, he has a chance to realize his NFL dream. He may not be the next Jamal Williams, but if he can become the next Jacques Cesaire the team would be ecstatic.

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