SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 05: Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Larry English #52 of the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5 2010 in San Diego California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 28-13. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Is it too early to call Larry English a bust? Well, yes and no.
It is in that he's played only two seasons, missing significant time due to injury, and still has a very good chance of becoming an outstanding pass-rusher in the NFL. It isn't in that he's entering Year 3 of a 5 year contract (that he'll most likely be an unrestricted free agent at the end of) and has so far been outplayed by the likes of Antwan Barnes, Antwan Applewhite and even Marques Harris.
The really sad thing about Larry English is that there haven't even been those flashes of brilliance that we'd occasionally see with guys like Buster Davis. Not to mention, after playing 4 years (and being a redshirt freshman) in college, Larry English is actually the same age as Buster. Due to his age, and the contract of a first-round player, the team needed him to become a big time performer some time before his third or fourth season and that hasn't happened.
Among the things I learned while researching Larry English for this post is that he recorded one of the highest Wonderlic scores for an Outside Linebacker ever recorded. He scored a 34, which through some crazy wizardry translates to an IQ of 128.....or 28 points above average. Some people start the scale of "genius" at 140, so you can imagine that we're dealing with a bright guy here.
Another thing I learned is that Larry English has asthma. He apparently has always had asthma, and helped to promote the Fight For Air Climb that happened in February in San Diego. Whether or not I'm comfortable with having our first-round draft pick be a pass rusher that needs an inhaler on the sidelines is debatable, but I will at least say I'm incredibly impressed that he's gotten to where he is while dealing with that.
Now, onto the facts. In each of his first two seasons, Larry English has started two games. In total, he has 5 sacks and 46 tackles to go along with 1 forced fumble. His rookie year was considerably better than his sophomore season, but two big reasons for that was that his injury issues worsened while the depth around him (Barnes, Applewhite) got better.
English is also facing the pressure of moving from 4-3 DE to 3-4 OLB, and having to learn how to play coverage in addition to rushing the passer without having his hand on the ground. This transition may have gone smoother had he been able to stay healthy, but who knows?
At this point, the Chargers have invested a good deal of money into Larry (a quick scan on his contract leaves me with an estimate of about $7 million) and have seen almost no return on their investment. The situation has gotten so dire that there is talk about using another first-round pick this year on a OLB to replace Larry, leaving the Chargers to have to pay for 3 starting OLBs once again.
We, as Chargers fans, have our fingers crossed that this post seems ridiculous in a year or two from now. However, at the moment it looks like the #16 selection from the 2009 NFL Draft (and one that the Patriots were upset the Chargers got) is on his way towards being a part of San Diego lore as an epic bust.
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