|National Football League|
Chargers add 2 more on defense in draft
By BERNIE WILSON
SAN DIEGO (AP) The San Diego Chargers set a tone by taking defensive players with their first three picks in the NFL draft.
Two of them are from the SEC.
After picking outside linebacker Melvin Ingram in the first round on Thursday night, the Chargers took defensive end Kendall Reyes of Connecticut in the second round and then traded up five spots in the third round to take LSU strong safety Brandon Taylor.
"We've gotten three very athletic players that have had great production in college," coach Norv Turner said. "I think they all come in and are able to contribute and compete right away. It wouldn't bother me a bit if we had another defensive player."
The Chargers need the help. They have only one playoff win in four seasons and have missed the postseason the last two years.
Their defense was the worst in the NFL on third-down conversions.
Reyes will help bolster the mediocre line and Taylor will compete with free agent acquisition Atari Bigby for the starting job at strong safety.
Reyes' selection with the 49th pick overall came one year after the Chargers used their first-round pick on defensive end Corey Liuget. Liuget had a quiet rookie season.
"We want to improve the front seven. We thought he fit with what we like to do," said player personnel director Jimmy Raye, who assumes the public face of the front office during the draft. "We're just trying to add good players. We like the players we have in our mix already but we just want to keep adding to the front and try to get better."
Known mainly for his run-stuffing ability, Reyes had a career-high 46 tackles and was third on the team with 4 1/2 sacks last season.
He had 32 1/2 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in his career, 10th on the school's all-time list.
"I was blessed to have a quick first step," Reyes said. "I'm definitely ready to work with the coaches and be able to take my pass rushing ability to the next level and hopefully make a difference when it comes to the pass rush this year."
Said Raye: "He's an athletic guy; speed, burst, athleticism, I think it all stands out for us, a guy 299, 300 pounds, who ran a 4.82. The quickness, the energy he plays with, is something that was appealing to us."
Turner said Reyes can have an early impact in substitution packages as an interior rusher.
"We've added two guys that when they're on the field will do a great job of chasing down the quarterback when we're able to get pressure on him; making plays from sideline to sideline," Turner said of Reyes and Ingram.
Taylor was a team captain and started all 14 games last season for LSU, which lost to Alabama in the BCS national championship game.
"I just love to hit. I will tackle anybody," he said. `'I love to cover and play on special teams, just go out and make big plays."
As a senior, he wore No. 18, which is handed down to a player who has high character and leadership qualities.
Chargers fullback Jacob Hester wore No. 18 for LSU in his senior season.
"He exhibits a lot of the same qualities as Jacob," Raye said.
Hester was pleased with the pick, tweeting: "Brandon Taylor!!! That's two (hash)18 LSU Tigers on the Super Chargers!!"
Raye said it makes sense to draft players from the SEC.
"It is a rich football conference. I think that's obvious. I think there's a lot of depth in that conference," he said. "There's a lot of good football players in the Southeastern Conference. You've got to tap into it if you see good football players down there."
Updated April 27, 2012