One of the up-and-comers in the NFL that no one seems to know about is San Diego Chargers 3-4 defensive end Corey Liuget. The 2011 first-round pick was one of the few bright spots of the 2012 season for the Bolts. After a rather underwhelming rookie year, Liuget made huge strides last season, making 50 tackles, recording 7 sacks and knocking down 9 passes, which was second among defensive linemen behind J. J. Watt.
Liuget has all the tools to be one of the best defensive linemen in the league with a great blend of speed, strength and pure athleticism. At just 23 years old, Liuget still has plenty of room to grow as he looks to build off his breakout 2012 campaign.
This offseason, Liuget has dropped eight pounds and has worked on his endurance and conditioning. He has worked closely with the Chargers’ coaching staff to improve his foot quickness, hip movement and burst off the line. The result in OTAs has been a clear rise in his explosiveness.
“It’s based on his footwork and him getting off the ball,” defensive line coach Don Johnson said. “He definitely looks a lot more explosive.”
The Chargers plan to run a hybrid 3-4/4-3 scheme in 2013, and Liuget should fit in nicely in the 4-3 as a penetrating defensive tackle. Liuget, who has experience in the 4-3 at the University of Illinois, should be able to create interior pressure for the Bolts and will have more one-on-one opportunities in the 4-3. Liuget’s scheme versatility makes him even more valuable to San Diego’s defense.
With Melvin Ingram likely out for the season, Liuget will need to continue bringing the pressure in whatever front he is placed in. Liuget, along with fellow youngsters Kendall Reyes and Cam Thomas, will need to bring interior pressure with Dwight Freeney being the only proven edge rusher on the team. And if Liuget continues to develop the way he does, the Chargers will be just fine.