The Chargers have done a lot this year in free agency and one of the few positions they did not change was middle linebacker. This is because AJ Smith feels that they are strong at the position and although they aren't gaining massive headlines our middle linebackers seem very strong.
Donald Butler came into the 2010 draft as one of the better linebacker prospects in the draft. He was Drafted by the Chargers at pick 79 but suffered a season long injury and did not play in his first year. Last season Butler made his debut season for the Chargers and it was probably the best first season of all of the Chargers that year. He was an instant starter on defence and racked up 96 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. His first season was very impressive and at the age of 23 he can only get better. Expect him to start for San Diego for a very long time and his name soon will emerge to the NFL masses and become a feared name among offenses in the NFL. The only surprise for me really is why so few people know about this kid around the league!
One of the main reasons for Butler's success was the veteran leadership alongside him in Takeo Spikes. The 14 year Veteran and two time all-pro has been a consistent performer throughout his career racking up a huge 1345 tackles over his impressive career. Spikes unfortunately is known around the league as the guy who has never made the playoffs but I think that's been down to bad luck rather than his own skill. Takeo gives the defence some vital experience and toughness which helps young players like Butler improve their own skills from watching and learning from him. Although Spikes has only been in San Diego a year he is a vital component to our team and an invaluable source of experience.
At backup the Chargers have Jonas Mouton. Mouton has started in the exact same way as Butler did. Coming out of College he was considered a very good prospect at linebacker and was selected near the end of the second round as a hard working middle linebacker with plenty of ability. He was injured all of last season and will enter the league this year in a similar way to how Butler did last year. Many Charger fans have similarly high hopes for Mouton and expect him to take some of Spikes' snaps as the veteran takes a rest. Mouton will not be put under high amounts of pressure and attention from around the league, but will be put in a position to succeed which is just about the best possible scenario for him.
Overall the Chargers Middle Linebacker's appear to be a very solid group of guys with plenty of upside and might just surprise a few people this year. I expect Butler to become the Chargers' number one middle linebacker and sure up our often shaky run defence, alongside Spikes in the short term and Mouton in the long term.