Chargers Enjoy Visit with Local D-Lineman

A local defensive lineman took a visit to Chargers Park earlier this month. This first- or second-round prospect may be the ideal bookend to Luis Castillo and could give Ron Rivera the disruptive force he's craving.

UCLA defensive lineman Brian Price visited Chargers Park earlier this month, according to's Ed Thompson. Price (6-foot-1, 303 pounds) possesses a rare combination of explosiveness and power, as evidenced by his 23.5 TFLs and seven sacks in 2009.

If the Chargers select a running back in the first round, Price will become a strong candidate with the No. 40 overall selection. He could be an opening-day starter at defensive end, allowing swing players like Ryon Bingham and Vaughn Martin to focus on playing nose tackle.

DL Brian Price
UCLA Athletics
Price was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. He has a wide variety of pass-rush moves and the burst to explode through the gap. He also has a low center of gravity, which helps him hold his ground at the point of attack and fend off double teams.

There are concerns about Price's size. He lacks the height to disrupt passing lanes; also, his short arms make scouts question his ability to disengage from blockers on the next level. Nonetheless, those traits did not prevent him from dominating at UCLA.

The general consensus is the Chargers must spend a high draft pick on a nose tackle, a role Price is unfit to fill. However, GM A.J. Smith may go with the best defensive lineman available. The Chargers already have holdover nose tackles Bingham, Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Ian Scott on the roster. Also, Martin and Alfonso Boone can log some snaps in the middle.

So, if the Chargers lead off the NFL Draft with a running back such as Fresno State's Ryan Mathews, don't be surprised if Smith selects a D-end like Price or Penn State's Jared Odrick rather than possibly reaching for a nose tackle like Camaron Thomas (North Carolina) or Torrell Troup (Central Florida).

One of the motivations for targeting a player like Price is he allows Ron Rivera to generate a pass rush without blitzing so liberally. In 2009, no Chargers defensive lineman finished with more than three sacks, forcing Rivera to blitz frequently and expose the back end of his defense.

With Price on board, the Chargers could field a three-man front of Price, Castillo and Nwagbuo that could wreak havoc in passing situations.

Should the Chargers draft Brian Price? Discuss in the Insiders Draft Talk Forum.

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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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