According to cbssports.com writer Dan McLellan, San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith is considering the possibility of trading up for Thursday’s 2012 NFL Draft from the 18th pick in order to select former Alabama Crimson Tide strong safety Mark Barron. According to that same article, the Chargers are expected to go after an outside linebacker in the first round if they are unable to move up. San Diego had major problems at the strong safety position, but they also had problems with an inability to get pressure on quarterbacks as their defensive linemen combined for 11.5 sacks during the 2011 season.
ESPN had their own mock draft and agreed with my suggestion that San Diego should take former Illinois Fighting Illini defensive end Whitney Mercilus who led the NCAA in sacks and was second in forced fumbles during the 2011 season. The draft is deeper with pass rushers than it is with strong safeties, so if San Diego moves up and selects Barron, they could take former Utah State Aggies outside linebacker Bobby Wagner who recorded four sacks in 2011 or former Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Jared Crick who recorded 9.5 sacks during his last full season in 2010.
Barron is ranked 15th overall among prospects, and cbssports.com as well as ESPN has him going to the Dallas Cowboys with the 14th overall pick. The Arizona Cardinals may not be willing to give up their 13th pick in the first round because they need offensive line help, Riley Reiff is expected to be chosen by them according to cbssports.com and would more than likely be gone by the 18th pick. The Chargers need a pass rusher and a strong safety, so Mercilus or Barron makes sense.