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
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.
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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com 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.