Aside from maybe offensive linemen, one would be hard-pressed to find another position more underappreciated than nose tackle. In a 3-4 defense especially, nose tackle play is taken for granted as they are sometimes asked to take on two or even three blockers with little to no reward aside from watching their teammates make the play that gets lauded by announcers. It’s tough to be a nose tackle, but thankfully the San Diego Chargers have the makings of a dynamic duo at the position so far in camp.
While fans of the Bolts already know just how capable Cam Thomas is as a nose tackle, new general manager Tom Telesco added another piece to the defensive line puzzle this offseason that is very intriguing. Undrafted free agent Kwame Geathers was considered by many to be the best pure nose tackle in the 2013 draft class, but due to questions about his technique, consistency, and stamina he didn’t get selected back in April.
Telesco didn’t let those issues keep him away when the draft came to a close as Geathers was one of the first UDFAs the Bolts signed. Listed at 6-foot-6, 335-pounds, Geathers clearly has the size to play inside in the 3-4. There have been many positives about his work on film thus far through the preseason and there have also been some negatives, but what remains a certainty is that Geathers has potential.
What this potential could do for San Diego in the upcoming season and the seasons beyond is give them a perfect nose tackle duo to rotate and keep fresh. Guys that are 300-plus pounds in the trenches giving their all play after play can get gassed in a hurry. Using a rotation of Geathers and Thomas would allow the team to always have a fresh body at one of the most important positions on defense in a 3-4 configuration at all times.
Perhaps what makes this potential even more enticing is the fact that Thomas is more effective against the passing game whereas Geathers is better vs. the run. This complementary relationship would allow the team to rotate Geathers in on early downs and short yardage plays while using Thomas on third downs and long down and distance situations. Defensive coordinator John Pagano would be in heaven to have big bodies in the trenches to keep the linebackers clean play after play.
The Chargers already have two outstanding 3-4 defensive ends in Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, but developing a nose tackle tandem of this caliber would greatly enhance the defense’s effectiveness throughout the course of a game. It may be one of the least appreciated positions as far as glamor goes, but rest assured that the coaching staff knows just how important nose tackle is to the defense. If the film is any indication thus far, the Bolts have the makings of a terrific combo at the position long into the future.