Inside Scouting Report: LB Mike Nixon

The Chargers have a history of letting UDFAs play their way onto the field. Stephen Cooper, who led the team in tackles last season, joined the team as an UDFA in 2003. Now, rookie Mike Nixon aims to follow in Cooper's footsteps. For more on the blue-collar linebacker from ASU, we check in with Hod Rabino, publisher of

Mike Nixon's one of the most prolific tacklers in ASU history. He finished a four-year career with 246 tackles, eight interceptions and three forced fumbles. He is also one of the Devils' most versatile products, having played the Will, Mike and Sam spots.

Nixon signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent and will compete for a place on the practice squad. He has plenty of talent in front of him on the depth chart, but with Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett entering contract seasons, Nixon will be given the opportunity to play his way into San Diego's future plans.

For more on Nixon, we check in with Hod Rabino, publisher of

LB Mike Nixon
Matt York/AP
Michael Lombardo: Mike played both inside and outside at ASU. But he played outside last year and will be asked to be an inside 'backer in San Diego's 3-4 scheme. How do you see him fitting into that defense?

Hod Rabino: Nixon has never been considered an especially fast player, and he has certainly compensated for that with his high football IQ and strong fundamentals. So I can see him playing as an inside linebacker because I don't believe he would have the necessary speed to play as an outside 'backer, especially in a 3-4 scheme where outside 'backers are required to be skillful pass rushers.

ML: Mike was a tackling machine on defense, but what about special teams? How much experience does he have?

HR: He hasn't done a lot of special teams work at ASU (more than anything else, he was the emergency kicker), but again, with his football savvy I think he would do OK on that unit. Furthermore, it's safe to say that if he cannot fill a special-teams role his chances of making the opening week roster are slim. So, he will have to make this work.

ML: Mike led the Pac 10 in interceptions in 2008 with five. Given that -- and his size -- is it fair to say his best shot of sticking in San Diego is as a nickel linebacker?

HR: I think that would be a fair statement. As a former high school QB, he does a good job reading offenses and applying his game film knowledge to the playing field. All that helped him be a good ball-hawk while at ASU. On the other hand, will his lack of speed hurt him?

ML: What is it about Mike's skill-set that put him on the radar of NFL teams? And what flaws did these teams see that prevented him from being drafted?

HR: Again, his lack of athleticism is what prevented him from being drafted. He was also public with his intentions of possibly starting law school this year, which perhaps made teams shy away on draft day. I know he had a good Pro Day at ASU and that opened the eyes of teams such as the Chargers and inclined them to take a chance on him as a free agent. His vast knowledge of the game is his biggest asset and makes up for his deficiencies.

ML: What role do you believe he is best suited for in the Big Leagues?

HR: Hard to say. I'm not sure he has the speed to really excel at nickel 'backer but his other qualities can make up for that. I don't believe he has the frame or the physicality to play as an inside 'backer, so nickel 'backer is probably his meal ticket.

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