English heads Chargers draft class of 2009

Outside linebacker Larry English (6-2, 255) from Northern Illinois headlined the Chargers 2009 NFL Draft class as the two-day proceedings came to an end on Sunday afternoon.

The Bolts selected a total of eight players. A two-time winner of the Vern Smith Leadership Award as the top player in the Mid-American Conference, the Chargers selected English with the 16th overall selection in the first round.

He will join an already talented corps of outside linebackers that includes Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips, Jyles Tucker and Antwan Applewhite. English finished his Huskies career with a school record 31.5 sacks and 63 tackles for loss.

San Diego Chargers 2009 Draft Picks

Round 1 (16) Larry English OLB Northern Illinois

Round 3 (78) Louis Vasquez G Texas Tech

Round 4 (113) Vaughn Martin DT Western Ontario (Canada)

Round 4 (133) Tyronne Green C Auburn

Round 4 (134) Gartrell Johnson RB Colorado State

Round 5 (148) Brandon Hughes CB Oregon State

Round 6 (189) Kevin Ellison S Southern California

Round 7 (224) Demetrius Byrd WR Louisiana State

Without a pick in the draft’s second round, having traded it to New England in 2008 to draft running back-fullback Jacob Hester, the Chargers selected again in the third round (78), taking former Texas Tech guard Louis (Lew-is) Vasquez (6-5, 325).

A consensus All-Big 12 selection as a senior, Vasquez started 35 games during his collegiate career for the Red Raiders. He’ll have no problem fitting in with San Diego’s high-powered offense as Tech featured the NCAA’s fourth-ranked offense in 2008.

Vasquez will help fill the void left by right guard Mike Goff, who signed with Kansas City as a free agent this offseason.

The Chargers had a total of three picks in the fourth round, two of which were compensatory selections awarded to the team for losing Michael Turner and Drayton Florence to free agency in 2008. With the first of their fourth-rounders, the Chargers selected defensive tackle Vaughn Martin (6-4, 327) from Western Ontario (Canada) with the 113th overall selection.

Martin is the first Canadian college player drafted by the Chargers since the team picked cornerback Mark Montreuil (mon-troy) from Concordia, Quebec in the seventh round of the 1995 NFL Draft. Born in Jamaica, Martin grew up in Toronto and London, Ontario. He played two seasons at Western Ontario, racking up 92 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

The Chargers used their two compensatory selections (Nos. 133 and 134) to select center Tyronne Green (6-2, 308) from Auburn and running back Gartrell Johnson (5-11, 218) from Colorado State.

A converted defensive tackle, Green lined up at both center and guard for the Tigers. Johnson, a Miami, Fla. native, had an outstanding career at CSU, rushing for 2,814 yards and 24 touchdowns in four-plus seasons for the Rams. As a senior, he went for 1,514 yards and 12 touchdowns, including a 285-yard performance in his final collegiate start in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl.

A first-team All-Mountain West Conference choice in 2008, Johnson earned New Mexico Bowl Offensive Player of the Game honors for his effort in the Rams’ 40-35 win over Fresno State.

In the fifth round (148), San Diego selected cornerback Brandon Hughes (5-11, 181) from Oregon State. Hughes, who played for former Chargers head coach Mike Riley in Corvallis, was a two-time second-team All-Pac-10 choice who finished his career with 178 tackles, 27 pass breakups and three interceptions.

A speech communication major at Oregon State with aspirations of becoming a writer or broadcaster, Hughes wrote for the school’s newspaper, The Daily Barometer, while also playing football for the Beavers.

In the sixth round (189) the Chargers might have found a steal in former Southern Cal safety Kevin Ellison (6-1, 230), a unanimous first-team All-Pac-10 choice in 2008. A team captain for the Trojans, Ellison missed five games, including the 2009 Rose Bowl against Penn State due to a knee injury. Ellison, who also garnered first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a junior in 2007, comes from a very talented athletic family.

One brother, Keith, plays linebacker for the Buffalo Bills and another brother, Chris, played defensive back at BYU in the late 1990s. His cousin, Dominic Ellison played college basketball at Washington State and New Mexico. Kevin finished his career at USC with 174 tackles and 17.5 tackles for loss.

The Chargers closed out the 2009 NFL Draft with the selection of wide receiver Demetrius Byrd (6-3, 200) from LSU in the seventh round (224). Byrd had a solid career at LSU, catching 72 passes for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons for the Tigers. A Miami native, Byrd had catches in 23 consecutive games to close out his college career.