Bolts meet with another pass-rushing 'backer

General Manager A.J. Smith has made it very clear that drafting a linebacker with pass-rushing ability will be a draft-day priority. Having already visited with LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons, the team has now met with another first-day linebacker prospect with the size, explosiveness and blue-collar work ethic necessary to excel in San Diego's aggressive 3-4 defense.

SDBoltReport.com has confirmed that Stewart Bradley (6-foot-4, 256 lbs.), an outside linebacker from Nebraska, recently had a private visit with Chargers officials. During his four years as a Husker, Bradley totaled 175 total tackles, 25 tackles for a loss and four sacks.

A versatile defender, the knock on Bradley is that he contributes in a lot of areas without dominating in any of them. However, his combination of skills is intriguing. He can put his hand on the ground and play some defensive end or drop back and cover in space.

The Chargers could certainly use such a player. San Diego relies heavily on its pass rush to mask its decencies in the secondary. And despite leading the league in sacks last season, Steve Foley's absence was definitely felt - especially when Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips missed time. Bradley could fill the need for a third pass-rushing 'backer.

Bradley is already a big linebacker and has the frame to add even more poundage. If he can add 10 lbs. and maintain his quickness and agility, his transition into a 3-4 defense would be a seamless one.

There are some red flags that may hinder the Chargers' enthusiasm. Bradley was only healthy enough to play one year of high-school ball and tore his ACL in 2005. Also, his straight-line speed is subpar.

However, his history of injuries is unlikely to scare away Smith, who last season spent his first-round pick on Antonio Cromartie, who missed the 2005 season with an ACL tear of his own.

The odds of Bradley coming to San Diego are increased by the Chargers' draft-day priorities. Assuming Smith selects a wide receiver and a safety in rounds one and two, he will be ready to address pressing need No. 3, linebacker, with one of his two third-round picks. Bradley is projected to go sometime during that stanza.

If that match is made, both parties would be better off for it. The Chargers would get a bigger, more physical complement to Marques Harris, last season's top backup at outside linebacker. Meanwhile, Bradley would get to contribute immediately on special teams while easing into the defensive rotation.

Bradley also visited recently with the Baltimore Ravens.


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