Chargers interested in powerful defensive end

The Chargers run an aggressive brand of 3-4 defense, in which the linemen are allowed to get after the quarterback as opposed to merely occupying blockers. Unfortunately, the only lineman on the roster who poses a serious pass-rushing threat is Luis Castillo. Looking to rectify that, the team met earlier this offseason with a defensive end who boasts rare combination of size and rushing ability.

During Senior Bowl week, Chargers officials visited with Ray McDonald (6-foot-3, 276 lbs.), a defensive end from the University of Florida. His four-year numbers include 137 total tackles, 25.5 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks.

Those numbers would have been even better had McDonald been able to stay healthy. He battled through two serious knee injuries during his career, one of which cost him most of the 2005 season. He stayed healthy during his senior season, though, and helped lead the Gators to a National Championship.

"Going through all those injuries, it was real stressful going into the (2006) season. I didn't really know if I was going to be able to play the whole season, but I did and I played pretty good. I guess I'm considered one of the top guys going into the draft and I'm really thankful and blessed for that," McDonald said.

McDonald has the skills to be a terrific defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He is strong at the point of attack and a sure tackler, the result of playing two seasons at defensive tackle. Additionally, he does a good job of using his hands to keep blockers off his body.

As a pass-rusher, he is explosive and adept at anticipating the snap, allowing him to use his quick first step to knife into the backfield.

"I hope to prove that I'm one of the top defensive players in the country and that I deserve to be up there on one of those high levels," he said. "I feel like I can stop the run and rush the passer."

There are several teams intrigued by McDonald's potential as a two-way defender. During Senior Bowl week alone, he met with the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.

In San Diego, McDonald would immediately take over as the team's third defensive end. That role is currently held by Jacques Cesaire, who was underwhelming in that role last season. McDonald and Derreck Robinson would give the team a pair of young, ascending players capable of contributing quality snaps off the bench.

McDonald is currently projected to be a second- or third-round pick. If he remains on the board at the end of day one, the Chargers will very tempted to pull the trigger.


SD Super Chargers Top Stories