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This Rookie Chargers Linebacker Could Be an All-Pro

All-Pro as a rookie is very difficult to achieve. However, Junior Colson has already been shown to beat the odds many times in his life.

In today’s NFL, the linebacker position is getting less valuable. Whether it is the contracts they are receiving in free agency or the point in the draft they are being selected at. What is not spoken about as much, is the true impact an elite linebacker can have in a defense. We see it defenses like the 49ers with Fred Warner, or defenses like the Ravens with Roquan Smith. These guys are extremely important. On the flip side, weak linebacker play can lead to a weak defense as a whole. Charger fans know how that is with the lackluster play of Kenneth Murray Jr and the aging Eric Kendricks just last season. So who is this potentially decade-long All-Pro Linebacker?

This Rookie Chargers Linebacker Could Be an All-Pro

Junior Colson’s Background and Michigan Career

Initially from Haiti, Junior Colson was adopted at nine years of age and came to America not knowing any English. Fast forward years later, he is now in the NFL with a strong chance to become an impact starter for the Jim Harbaugh-led Los Angeles Chargers team.

After his adoption and before his NFL career, Junior Colson made a name for himself at Ravenwood High School, garnering the four-star recruit label, while being ranked the 13th linebacker in the country according to 247sports. Once at Michigan, the new Chargers linebacker instantly made an impact, under  Harbaugh.

In 2021, Colson played over 500 defensive snaps, showing that he instantly was an impact player in the Michigan defense. In 2022, Jesse Minter became Michigan’s new defensive coordinator, and this benefitted the Haiti-born linebacker immensely. Under Minter, Colson blossomed into a tackling machine, recording 101 tackles as just a twenty-year-old defender.

Lastly, in 2023, Colson enhanced his coverage skills while continuing his dominance in the center of the defense. The Junior Colson and Jesse Minter-led defense finished number one in the country and eventually led them to a National Championship victory. The 21-year-old did this all while playing injured USA Today’s Jared Ramsey is quoted saying “In terms of toughness, Colson played through two broken hands to finish 2023…” His toughness landed him a spot on Nate Gosney’s “My Guys” List in 2024.

Read: Junior Colson 2024 NFL Draft Profile

Scheme Familiarity

Out of all the players Jim Harbaugh coached at Michigan, he chose only three to follow him to Los Angeles. One of which was seventh-round selection, Cornelius Johnson who can be a true difference maker for The Chargers, and the other is Swiss Army Knife offensive lineman, Karsen Barnhart, who can make this team as a UDFA. The last of the three was Junior Colson. Two were late-round or UDFA prospects, who are very intriguing prospects in their own right, but Colson was selected using the highly valuable round-three pick of the NFL Draft. Harbaugh got his guy, saying, “He checks every box.”

As mentioned before, the new Chargers linebacker has plenty of familiarity with this coaching staff and scheme. He played for new Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh all three years at Michigan. Doing so while playing with new Chargers defensive coordinator, Jesse Minter for his final two seasons. That gives him such an upper hand right away in the NFL as a rookie, knowing the scheme front to back. This will allow him to play faster than even veterans who are learning the defense for the first time.

Easy Path To Playing Time

The tackling machine in Junior Colson is much needed for the Bolts, after the loss of both of their starting linebackers, Kenneth Murray and Eric Kendricks. The Chargers depth chart before the draft was practically begging for another presence at linebacker. As they only had a few options with either starting experience or valuable traits for development.

The Chargers Linebacker Depth Chart with Colson:

By looking at that list, it is very easy to predict that Colson can win the starting job before the season even starts. His familiarity with coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jesse Minter makes his evaluation and projection to the NFL level even easier, as he already knows the scheme and language. This also gives him much higher odds to call plays for the defense, as a rookie. One of the most respected Chargers Journalists, Daniel Popper was quoted saying “He might end up wearing the green dot because of his familiarity with the new system.”

Last Word on Junior Colson

The third-round rookie Chargers linebacker already has all the odds in his favor. He has not even stepped foot on the practice field for the Bolts. He knows the defensive scheme front to back, he knows what the coaches are expecting the right way, and he will likely see the field early due to the lack of strong competition above him. Furthermore, the mentality that Colson brings matches exactly what the Los Angeles Chargers want to be. Strong communicators who are physical, tough, and smart.

A fast start for a rookie brings confidence, and this could lead to an All-Pro caliber rookie season. Obviously, an All-Pro as a rookie is very difficult to achieve. However, Colson has already been shown to beat the odds many times in his life. The NFL is just next on his list.

Main Photo:  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


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