The Chargers’ positions of need have all been recorded time and time again by every member of the media. It’s offensive tackle, defensive tackle, and linebacker. Everything else should just be a second thought at this point. However, this hasn’t stopped the Chargers’ brass from thinking outside the box to fill one of their most-pressing needs.
According to Austin Gayle over at Pro Football Focus, the Bolts recently met with Georgia defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter, a senior defender who spent some time with the best of the best down in Mobile, Alabama for the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
The spiciest tidbit from their time together? Supposedly, Ledbetter was asked if he would consider making the transition from defensive end in UGA’s front to a 3-technique in Gus Bradley’s 4-3 defense.
The #Chargers told Georgia edge defender Jon Ledbetter, "We've got edge rushers; we need a three-technique. Can you do that for us?"— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) March 25, 2019
Having Ledbetter play inside of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram would be a sight to see in LA.
When looking at the athletic-testing numbers from Ledbetter’s combine, it’s easy to see why a transition could, and maybe should, be in his future.
Jonathan Ledbetter posted a very poor #RAS at the #2019NFLCombine with poor speed and explosion. Numbers look better as an undersized DT, but not enough to pull it above average.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 3, 2019
*Splits Projected* pic.twitter.com/WE2eSCLnrQ
Ledbetter measured just under 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, right where you would want a true defensive end in a 4-3 defense. However, Ledbetter was extremely underwhelming in his tests. His 5.14 forty is, quite frankly, horrendous for a player who was thought to maybe receive some looks at linebacker at the next level. His 26.5-inch vertical and 9-foot broad jump are equally as depressing in a player who was a part of such a vaunted defense in college.
In the above tweet, you can see that Ledbetter’s numbers, when put up against other defensive ends in the past, he is near the bottom of the barrel. When you put them in the context of defensive tackles, he jumps up a bit but still falls short of an “average” relative athletic score.
As a scout, I always placed great value on guys that practiced hard because it’s good indicator of how much they love football. Last year, @FootballUGA DE #13 Jonathan Ledbetter (@LedbetterDE15) stood out with physicality and hustle. Heavy-handled and versatile DL prospect. pic.twitter.com/tUMdO3Nsq8— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) October 13, 2018
I’m not sure where Ledbetter will eventually stick at in the NFL, but it’s nice to see the Chargers getting creative while they attempt to fix the glaring holes on this roster. Ledbetter has the experience, work-ethic, and pedigree of a guy you want on your team, but he is not without a question mark or two.