Chargers search for depth along the line

The Chargers are looking for a few good men. Not just men – linemen, and of the defensive variety. After talking with defensive tackle Kareem Brown early during Senior Bowl week, San Diego spoke with three more defensive line prospects...

David Patterson, Victor Abiamiri and Lamarr Woodley all made the must-see list, as scouts drilled each individually and met them later to discuss matters in private.

The Chargers starting trio is all set – Luis Castillo, Jamal Williams and Igor Olshansky constitute one of the elite starting lines in the league. The problem lies behind those three. Jacques Cesaire rotates in at all three positions while Ryon Bingham and Derreck Robinson still have a lot to prove.

So, in an effort to add some depth to the line, the Chargers were targeting defensive linemen while down in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl.

One lineman they spoke with was Patterson, a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2006 and the recipient of the Jim Marshall Warrior Award. His best statistical season came in 2005, when he finished with 23 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks. At 6 foot 3 and 285 lbs., he has the ideal size for a defensive end in San Diego's 3-4 scheme.

"I'm someone that works hard in practice and works hard in the meetings and will do anything they need me to do – being on time, being consistent, taking coaching well. I'm a quick learner and a good team player," Patterson said.

The Chargers also spoke with Abiamiri, a 6-foot-4, 268 lb. defensive end from Notre Dame. His career totals include 128 tackles, 40 tackles for a loss and 21.5 sacks. Abiamiri was named Notre Dame's Lineman of the Year during each of his final two seasons there.

"I want to establish myself as one of the best defensive ends in the country," Abiamiri said. "I'm very sure that I can help any team win football games and that's what it's all about.

Finally, the Chargers scouts met with Woodley, a 6-foot-1, 269 lb. defensive end from Michigan. The winner of the Lombardi Award (top lineman) and Ted Hendricks Award (top defensive end) in 2006, Woodley was a dominant college player. He finished his four-year career at Michigan with 177 tackles, 52.5 tackles for a loss and 24 sacks.

It remains to be seen how high a draft pick San Diego is willing to invest in its defensive line. Although increased depth would greatly help a run defense that dropped six spots in the rankings from 2005 (no. 1) to 2006 (No. 7), there are certainly greater needs elsewhere.

However, San Diego will almost certainly select a defensive lineman at some point during the 2007 draft. It may be one of the aforementioned trio, who could transform the Chargers' trio of dominant defensive linemen into an ferocious foursome.

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