San Diego Chargers: Jeremiah Attaochu

Good morning. I’ll be out on vacation, but the team page will be populated with some articles I’ve already written over the next week.

Marty Caswell of The Mighty 1090 has the details on San Diego Chargers rookie draft picks Jason Verrett, Jeremiah Attaochu and Chris Watt throwing out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game.

Check out the video. It’s not pretty, and shows that the trio should definitely stick to their day jobs. Verrett says that he plans to stay and San Diego and work on rehabbing his shoulder so he’s ready for training camp.

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com provides five lessons learned about San Diego during offseason workouts. Henne says the Chargers have improved the overall speed on the roster this year.

Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego also offers some takeaways from San Diego’s offseason program. He points to linebacker Andrew Gachkar as a player that could help the Chargers in passing situations. I agree.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com lists Keenan Allen as one of 11 unstoppable players in the league.

Andrew Gribble of the Birmingham News writes that former Chargers fullback Le’Ron McClain shed 15 pounds in an effort to find work on another NFL team.

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated delves into TV’s power and influence over the NFL, with more fans choosing to watch games in the comfort of their homes.

Joel Corry of CBS Sports takes a closer look at how teams structure contracts and why it matters.

Matt Bowen of Bleacher Report breaks down the basics of a zone blitz.
First reported by Pro Football Talk, I can confirm the San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms on a four-year deal with second-round draft pick Jeremiah Attaochu.

With the Georgia Tech product now in the fold, first-round selection cornerback Jason Verrett remains the only San Diego draft pick not signed by the team.

Third-round selection offensive lineman Chris Watt, fifth-round pick Ryan Carrethers, sixth rounder Marion Grice and seventh-round pick Tevin Reese all signed deals last week.
I took a look back at the 2013 draft for edge-rushers to find a reasonable expectation for San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu in his first season.

Among edge-rushers drafted in the first two rounds of that draft, BYU product Ezekiel Ansah had the most sacks his rookie season with eight. The No. 5 overall selection in the 2013 draft, Ansah started 12 games for Detroit, playing 532 snaps and finishing with 32 tackles, including two forced fumbles.

Of course, at 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds, Ansah is a base defensive end in a 4-3 scheme playing on one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, so that’s not an ideal comparison.

The next best performer from the 2013 draft class was Barkevious Mingo. Selected No. 6 overall out of LSU by the Cleveland Browns, Mingo finished with five sacks and 42 tackles in 15 games played. Mingo played outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 scheme, which is more similar to Pittsburgh than San Diego’s version of the 3-4.

Out of the second-rounders, Southern Mississippi product Jamie Collins was the most productive. Selected No. 52 overall by the New England Patriots in the 2013 draft, Collins finished without a sack.

However, Collins played more the second half of the season due to Patriots injuries, finishing with 48 tackles in 16 games played, including eight starts.

The No. 3 overall selection in 2013, Dion Jordan was perhaps the most disappointing. The athletic University of Oregon product played all 16 games for the Dolphins with zero starts, finishing with just two sacks and 26 tackles.

As a group, edge-rushers from the first two rounds of the 2013 draft averaged two sacks and 339 snaps as rookies last season.

Of course, edge-rushers recently drafted by the Chargers have not been productive in getting to the quarterback. Larry English and Melvin Ingram finished with a combined three sacks in their rookie seasons.

Perhaps Houston Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed is a fair measurement for Attaochu. Drafted in the second round at No. 40 overall as an outside linebacker, Reed started an average of 13 games in three seasons, averaged 31 tackles a season and totaled 11.5 sacks during that time.

Reed is similar in size to Attaochu and had comparable combine numbers coming out of the University of Arizona. He’s played in a similar 3-4 scheme to what defensive coordinator John Pagano has installed in San Diego. And Reed also is versatile; he could move to inside linebacker this season with Houston selecting Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


SAN DIEGO -- A wrap-up of the San Diego Chargers' draft. Click here for a full list of San Diego's draftees.

Best move: The Chargers moved up seven spots in the second round to grab Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu at No. 50. A good athlete with natural pass-rush skills, Attaochu immediately upgrades San Diego’s defense at a position of need. He will get good mentoring and skill development from veterans like Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. And similar to Bruce Irvin two years ago for Seattle, Attaochu can be successful early as a rookie situational pass-rusher in a limited role.

[+] EnlargeJason Verrett
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsCornerback Jason Verrett is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Riskiest move: The Chargers bucked the NFL trend of drafting bigger cornerbacks by selecting TCU's Jason Verrett in the first round. At 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds, Verrett checks all of the boxes in terms of toughness, speed, football awareness and ball hawking skills. But there will be questions about whether Verrett can play on the perimeter against bigger receivers in the NFL. Verrett is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and could miss the beginning of training camp. So how much Verrett can contribute at the beginning of the regular season remains a question mark. However, he showed durability in college, playing in 37 games in three seasons for the Horned Frogs.

Most surprising move: One of the team’s most obvious needs heading into this year’s draft, the Chargers passed on more well-known defensive linemen like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones in earlier rounds to select Arkansas State product Ryan Carrethers. At 6-2 and 330 pounds, Carrethers is a workout warrior. He benched 225 pounds 36 times at his pro day, squats 700 pounds and can power clean 400 pounds. He finished second on the team in 2013 with an impressive 93 tackles, including eight tackles for a loss. Carrethers also totaled four sacks and two blocked kicks. He’ll compete with Sean Lissemore for the starting nose tackle job on San Diego’s defense. "He’s a powerful, stout player inside," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "He also has some uncommon production for a nose tackle. He had a lot of tackles, TFL’s [tackles for loss] and sacks at Arkansas State. He really played well against the bigger schools."

File it away: The selection of Notre Dame offensive lineman Chris Watt in the third round fills a need for more depth at interior offensive line. A three-year starter at left guard, Watt is considered a versatile performer who could also be trained to play center by offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. Watt provides some insurance for the Chargers in dealing with Jeromey Clary. The 30-year-old starting right guard is to make $4.55 million in nonguaranteed, total compensation in 2014. The Chargers have already asked receiver Eddie Royal, Johnson and Freeney to take pay cuts this year. Clary is highly thought of at Chargers Park, but if Telesco asks the Kansas State product to take a pay cut and he balks, the Chargers potentially could have an answer at right guard in Watt.
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SAN DIEGO -- Led by one of the best passing offenses in the history of the game, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos thwarted the San Diego Chargers' effort to reach the Super Bowl for the first time under quarterback Philip Rivers.

[+] EnlargeJeremiah Attaochu
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsJeremiah Attaochu's selection at No. 50 signifies a clear effort by the Chargers to improve their pass defense.
After the season was over, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and the rest of the team's personnel department made preparations to fix San Diego's deficiencies defending the pass. Through the first two days of the draft, the Chargers made an effort to close the gap with the AFC's favorite to return to the Super Bowl.

San Diego finished last season at No. 29 in passing defense, giving up 259 yards a contest. The Chargers also allowed 58 passing plays of 20 yards or more, tied for No. 24 in the NFL.

San Diego selected fiesty TCU cornerback Jason Verrett in the first round and moved up seven spots in the second in a trade with Miami -- giving up the No. 57 and No. 125 picks -- to grab Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu at No. 50.

Those selections represent an effort for the Chargers to get better at defending the pass in 2014.

“As far as pass defense goes, it's rushing the passer and covering people,” Telesco said. “So it's not rocket science. We've got to get to the quarterback a little more, and we've got to cover people. Luckily we've got two guys that are high-energy players and high-motor players that also have really big-time athletic skills.”

At 5 feet 9 and 189 pounds, Verrett has the versatility to play on the perimeter or in the slot and the physicality to get to the quarterback as a blitzer.

Telesco said Attaochu, a quick-twitch pass rusher at 6-3 and 252 pounds, was the guy San Diego wanted on Day 2.

“He's a player that we had targeted early on,” Telesco said. “He'll get to the quarterback. That's his big thing. He's a relentless pass rusher with a huge motor. But then he combines that with an excellent first step, which is big for pass rushers.”

Telesco said Attaochu has played outside linebacker and defensive end, so he's a scheme fit for what defensive coordinator John Pagano wants to do.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Attaochu, a native of Nigeria who just started playing football his freshman year of high school, will have the benefit of learning from one of the best pass rushers in the game in Dwight Freeney.

“That's the first thing that I told him -- that you're very fortunate to be able to work with someone like Dwight Freeney,” McCoy said. “When Dwight came in here last year, from Day 1 up until the last game of the season, he was a true pro. Even before he got hurt, he was always out there trying to help the younger guys.”

Along with Freeney serving as mentor, McCoy said Attaochu can learn from the example fellow pass-rusher Jarret Johnson sets by the way he works.

Attaochu should be an attentive student.
videoSAN DIEGO -- The pick: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech

My take: The Chargers needed to add juice to an ailing pass rush that struggled to consistently get pressure on the quarterback last season. At 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds, Attaochu fits the bill. He’s athletic (4.59-second 40-yard dash time) and he’s productive, finishing as the leading pass-rusher in Georgia Tech history with 31.5 sacks. With aging pass-rushers in Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney, the Chargers needed a long-term answer at the position to pair with budding star Melvin Ingram.

A different kind of football: A native of Nigeria, Attaochu grew up playing soccer and was first introduced to football as a ninth grader at Archbishop Carroll High in Washington D.C. He picked up the game quickly, serving as the team captain his junior and senior seasons.

What’s next: The Chargers moved up seven spots to select Attaochu at No. 50, trading the No. 57 and No. 125 selections to the Miami Dolphins. San Diego made a similar trade last year in the second round, moving up seven spots by trading the team’s second- and fourth-round selections to the Arizona Cardinals to select middle linebacker Manti Te'o at No. 38. The Chargers still have four selections left in the draft, including a third-rounder at No. 89.

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