Senior Bowl: Chargers Seek Linebacker Depth

The Chargers thought they were done stockpiling linebackers, but injuries to their backups might add another Shawn to the mix. Michael Lombardo reports from Mobile, Ala., that the Chargers met with three linebackers who could add even more punch to an already outstanding unit.

The Chargers will return all four starting linebackers but could have a need for improved depth. Carlos Polk is injury prone, having ended three of the last four seasons on injured-reserve. Tim Dobbins failed to impress when forced into the defensive rotation. And Marques Harris is a restricted free agent who may not be brought back.

The Chargers took action in Mobile by holding a private meeting with OLB Wesley Woodyard. The 6'1", 212-pound linebacker started his final three seasons at Kentucky, averaging more than 120 tackles per season during that span.

Woodyard has impressed the scouts in Mobile. He's a disciplined defender who takes on blockers and controls his gaps, something the Chargers failed to do in the second half of the AFC Championship Game.

"I'm a natural born leader and a kid who loves football," Woodyard said. "I'm going to make the team no matter what position they put me in."

Another prospect the Chargers met with is Jason Jones out of Eastern Michigan. Jones (6'4", 270 pounds) played defensive end in college, but Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin moved him to linebacker for Wednesday's practices.

"We move guys around like we do in college when they first come out of high school. We don't want to miss anything for them," Kiffin said. "If there's something we think they can do to help themselves, whether we do it in the game or not, we'll let them do it in practice to help them in the draft.

Jones dominated the college ranks, recording 50 tackles for loss resulting in 194 yards, which was good for seventh in the NCAA. Jones is projected to go in round three or four, a reasonable price for a player of his estimable talents.

The third linebacker the Chargers scouts talked with is Shawn Crable from from Michigan. Crable has impressive size (6'5", 241 pounds) and versatility.

"Shawn's a really good athlete," Kiffin said. "He was a really good basketball player coming out of high school. He can really do a number of thing. There was a point where we were recruiting him at USC where we thought maybe he'd be a tight end. It says a lot for his athleticism."

"Shawn can do a lot of different things. He can play linebacker or rush from out there off the edge. There are some defensive coordinators out there who are really excited about him because you can do a number of different things with him and confuse people with him."

A.J. Smith has said he can never have enough versatile athletes. Apparently, he can never have enough Shawns either, no matter the spelling.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for She has contributed to the official Web sites of Shawne Merriman, Lorenzo Neal, Shaun Phillips and others for Sixthman Communications.

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