Shocker: Chargers Tab Larry English

The San Diego Chargers seemingly caught a big break when projected top-10 OT Michael Oher fell right into their laps. Instead, they broke from the mold and selected Northern Illinois linebacker Larry English, who will be expected to spark a pass rush that bagged just 28 sacks last season.

The Chargers' selection of OLB Larry English is legitimately shocking for a variety of reasons. Firstly, several other players were on the board who could have filled more pressing areas of need, including OT Michael Oher and RB Chris Wells.

Secondly, the team showed very little interest in English during the offseason. He spoke with's Samantha Fillerup on Wednesday, April 22, and confirmed he did not visit Chargers Park or work out for the Chargers. He also confirmed to's Ed Thompson that the Chargers were not among the teams he met with at the NFL Combine.

OLB Larry English
N. Illinois Athletics

English (6-foot-2, 255 pounds) gives the Bolts a third pass-rushing linebacker to complement Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. He also gives the team a degree of protection in case Merriman leaves as a free agent in 2010.

The Chargers now have their most talented pass-rushing trio since 2005, when Merriman, Phillips and Steve Foley were on the roster.

The selection of English also confirms just how ridiculous it was to give Jyles Tucker a five-year, $14 million extension after one year in the NFL. Tucker will now be no better than the fourth outside linebacker in the rotation.

English dominated at Northern Illinois, posting 30.5 sacks over the last three seasons. He also averaged more than 50 tackles and 15 TFL during that span.

English should help a pass defense that finished dead-last in the AFC last season, allowing more than 247 yards per game.

The Chargers couldn't very well draft another defensive back; there were no safeties worth taking with the No. 16 overall pick and the team has spent four first-round picks on cornerbacks since 2002. So instead, GM A.J. Smith drafted an outside linebacker in the first round for the second time in the last five years.

What are your thoughts on this selection? Talk about it in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.

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