Bolts Hold Private Visit with Large O-Lineman

The release of Shane Olivea leaves the Bolts with a looming need for options and injury protection on the front line. San Diego invited one of the rising stars heading into the draft in for a private visit. This massive athlete shows promise at both guard and tackle -- an ideal blend for the Bolts.'s Adam Caplan has confirmed the Chargers brought in Virginia OL Branden Albert for a private visit. Entering the draft after his junior year, Albert's solid athleticism and steady control over his colossal body indicate he is ready to take his success to the next tier.

At 6'6", 309 pounds, Albert is a giant even by NFL standards. He started all 36 games during his three years with the Cavaliers and was a three-time All-Conference selection. He stepped out his junior year with an awing display of his potential and he is confident with his decision to enter the draft.

"I just felt like it was the best situation for me this year," he said. "I just looked at the situation, the draft class, the guards, and felt like I could make a strong, competitive effort by coming out."

OL Branden Albert
Michael Conroy/AP

Albert is ready to come in and make an immediate impact. At Virginia, he played under coach Al Groh, the former coach of the New York Jets. Groh coaches with a heavy hand.

"Coach Groh runs a pretty tight program; it comes from the pro background," Albert said. "That helped me out significantly with this whole process. That made me a tough player, a tough guy. He builds a program that helps you have good character."

Albert, projected as the top guard in the draft, concluded his junior year by being named first-team All-ACC and first-team All-State. Albert recorded 54 knockdowns, setting post at left guard for 11 games and moving to left tackle for the other two.

With sharp quickness, Albert has the balance to hammer the defensive line and then step back to provide protection for the pass. He is quick out of his stance and uses his hands to spawn movement and force. Done with such surprising fluidity, Albert has some teams projecting him as a tackle.

"Because of my size, I'm bigger than most guards. I can play tackle because of my athleticism and I feel pretty comfortable there. Wherever a team wants to draft me, either position, I feel comfortable playing," he said.

Albert shows the desire to finish blocks and dominate the trenches. With such size, he still maintains unexpectedly quick footwork and dexterity to execute traps and pulls. He has a solid leg drive to push the defense off the line and block at the second level.

The Bolts have a dire need for Albert's duality on the front line. Limited depth lies behind starting offensive linemen Marcus McNeill and Jeromey Clary. With last year's backups, Roman Oben and Shane Olivea, both released from the team, the Bolts need a warmer bench.

The talented Albert shows good technique and holds a combo that could give the Chargers the best of both worlds. Albert is a natural guard but demonstrates the promising potential to develop into a top tackle. Albert takes one day at a time and is geared up for the road ahead.

"I've just embraced this opportunity," he said. "It's something a lot of people don't get and I'm very thankful. I'm ready to impress." correspondent Amberly Richardson also contributed to this report. Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Her analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.

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