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SB Nation Writers Mock Draft: Round 1, Pick #16

No. 16


Pick by Bolts From the Blue

Rey Maualuga
Middle linebacker

Southern California

With this pick, we're halfway through the first round of the SB Nation mock draft. Now is when the picks get really interesting. Let's see how DaBolts from Bolts From the Blue breaks this one down.

The Chargers could go a number of ways this draft. LaDainian Tomlinson isn't getting any younger at running back, the right side of the offensive line was somewhat suspect as was safety Clinton Hart and inside linebacker Matt Wilhelm. San Diego also lost their defensive end Igor Olshansky to free agency.

At defensive end both Peria Jerry and Tyson Jackson are the most promising candidates, but Jerry is relatively old and better suited to a 4-3 system. Jackson has the reputation of having motivation issues and had a down season in 2007. At safety, Vontae Davis was a strong consideration, but I don't like having a cornerback/safety conversion project in the first round. Knowshon Moreno is the best running back in the draft, but his 40 time was slow and there appears to be some interesting prospects that should be available in the later rounds. The cream of the offensive tackles are off the board, which leaves Rey Maualuga as the best player available at a position of need.

Maualuga was a playmaker at USC and a big hitter. He excelled during the Senior Bowl, demonstrating an ability to go sideline-to-sideline. There are injury concerns, and he came up gimpy after running the 40 at the combine, but it is a risk worth taking. On the Chargers, he will team up with Shawne Merriman, Stephen Cooper and Shaun Phillips to make one of the better linebacking corps in the NFL. He will bring an ability to blitz from the inside, rarely seen last season, but should also be able to drop into coverage. A big hitter in the middle should do a lot to shore up a disappointing defensive squad from last season; especially when coupled with more aggressive play calling by Ron Rivera.

MTD thoughts: Excellent selection. For a few years, Wilhelm has been only a liability at a key position. In San Diego's defensive scheme, Maualuga would have every opportunity to become a star.

Mocking the Draft's Top Five Remaining Prospects - RB Knowshon Moreno, WR Jeremy Maclin, CB Vontae Davis, RB Chris Wells, QB Mark Sanchez