The Chargers added third-round pick Daiyan Henley last month to reinforce a shaky linebacker room, but the additions didn’t stop there over draft weekend. Following the end of the seventh round, the Chargers inked Samford linebacker Nathan East and Syracuse’s Mikel Jones as two more players to join the group.
For this UDFA profile, we’re going to focus on the former in East. Let’s go ahead and jump right in.
The 6’2, 227-pound East is a native of McCalla, Alabama where he starred for McAdory High School as both a safety and an offensive weapon. He finished his varsity career with 190 total tackles, three interceptions, four forced fumbles, three blocked punts, two defensive touchdowns to go with three touchdowns on offense (two passing, one receiving).
After choosing to stay in Alabama to play his college ball, East redshirted his first year on campus before earning a rotational role as a linebacker in 2018. He finished his first year of play with 34 tackles, two pass breakups, and one pass breakup.
Despite not earning a starting role in his sophomore season, he still saw time in all 12 games and finished with 84 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and three pass breakups.
The team’s 2020 Fall season was dropped due to the pandemic so the next time East saw the field was in the spring of 2021 where the team played a seven-game schedule in which e started every game en route to being named a Second-Team All-SoCon selection. He led the team with 68 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and three pass breakups.
His production finally took a step forward in 2021 with 98 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He ended his career in 2022 with a stat line of 82 tackles, three tackles for loss, a career-high two sacks, his first interception, seven pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He was once again named a second-team all-conference selection.
At a local pro day held at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, fairly well across the board with a 4.59 40-yard dash time, a 35.5” vertical, a 10’3” broad, a 4.10 short shuttle, and 23 reps on the bench press all while weighing in at 230 pounds.
While I mentioned earlier that the Chargers linebacker room isn’t in the best of shape, I can’t say that it’s not for a lack of bodies. As of right now there are nine total players at a position the Chargers almost never play more than two of at the same time. Eric Kendricks and Kenneth Murray Jr. will be your presumed starters in week one with Henley playing heavily on special teams and in a rotation from the jump.
Behind those three are Nick Niemann (2021 sixth-round pick), Amen Ogbongbemiga (2021 UDFA), Damon Lloyd, Tyreek Maddox-Williams (2022 UDFA), East, and Jones. All six of these players will be vying for one of the few backup spots and/or a placement on the practice squad and while that means there’s going to be a real competition, it’s hard to see East breaking through for even a place on the practice squad.
He’ll have to blow the coaches away with his play on special teams, but even that may not be enough if they don’t see a clear line of progression for the former FCS defender.
Great interview between @AL_Recruiting and @NathanEast22. A must watch! https://t.co/O0CvKvbuPz— Taylor Morton (@iamtaylormorton) May 5, 2023