SAN DIEGO (AP) — Only three teams in the NFL were worse at pass defense than the San Diego Chargers, which is why general manager Tom Telesco addressed the front end and back end of that unit with his first two picks in the NFL draft.
Telesco moved up in the second round for the second straight year, this time to take outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech’s career sacks leader with 31 .
Telesco took cornerback Jason Verrett in the first round on Thursday night.
"As far as pass defense goes, it’s rushing the quarterback and covering people," Telesco said. "It’s not rocket science. We’ve got to get to the quarterback more and we’ve got to cover. We got two guys who are high energy players and high motor players who also have really big-time athletic skills."
The Chargers were last in the AFC and 29th in the NFL in pass defense last season. They play in the same division as Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who beat San Diego in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Chargers traded with Miami to move up seven spots to the 50th pick overall to take Attaochu. Miami got the 57th pick and San Diego’s fourth-round pick, which is No. 125 overall.
Attaochu was a three-year starter at Georgia Tech and played in every game as a freshman.
He was moved from outside linebacker to defensive end last year when Georgia Tech changed schemes and had 12 sacks.
"He can get to the quarterback. That’s the big thing," Telesco said. "He’s a relentless pass rusher with a huge motor. He combines that with an excellent first step, which is excellent for pass rushers."
A year ago, Telesco traded up in the second round of his first draft as Bolts boss to take linebacker Manti Te’o.
Attaochu was born in Nigeria and went to high school in Washington, D.C. He wasn’t introduced to football until the ninth grade.
In the third round, the Chargers took Notre Dame guard Chris Watt with the 89th pick overall.
Watt was a three-year starter at Notre Dame. He tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the final regular-season game and missed the Pinstripe Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
Interior line depth was one of the Chargers’ needs.
Telesco said Watt is "solid, smart, tough. Simply put, the man he’s supposed to block, he gets."