Perhaps the most obvious need for the San Diego Chargers is defensive tackle, where last year’s starter -- Cam Thomas -- departed to the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency, signing a two-year, $5 million deal.
Sean Lissemore returns as the projected starter at defensive tackle. Lissemore had overtaken Thomas in the starting lineup, playing in 208 snaps in 2013. He might not hold up as an every-down defensive tackle in defensive coordinator John Pagano's system.
So a run-stuffing defensive tackle is a need for the Chargers, which is why many mock drafts have San Diego selecting Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix in the first round.
ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson continues his examination of the positional needs of the Chargers with a look at the team’s defensive line needs.
Q: What’s your evaluation of San Diego’s talent level at defensive line?
Williamson: “I think they need more bodies. I would rank that fourth on their need chart behind cornerback, offensive guard and receiver.”
Williamson is not a fan of San Diego signing running back Donald Brown to a three-year, $10.4 million deal, and believes they could have used that money in free agency to address other positions where depth was more of an issue.
“What if Liuget gets hurt? They don’t have an answer,” Williamson said. “They need guys there. I know Cam Thomas wasn’t great, but he’s a plugger inside. Instead of signing Donald Brown, why not keep him [Thomas] and use some more money for something else? You can get a running back in the third and fourth round of the draft.”
Q: What do they need to accomplish this offseason to improve?
Williamson: “I do think a big nose tackle like Louis Nix, or a Casey Hampton type of player would go a long ways to making Manti Te’o and Donald Butler’s jobs easier, along with freeing up Liuget. And they don’t have him on the roster right now.”