Brock Hekking created a buzz when he signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. Although to be fair, that buzz had as much to do with his flowing blonde hair as it did his work on the field. One week into training camp, Hekking is proving he is more than just a mullet.
Hekking has shown great energy and hustle early in camp. The rookie out of Nevada can always be seen hustling back to the ball, even when he is not directly involved in the play, a good habit for any young (or old) defensive player. Hekking has also looked like one of the strongest linebackers on the roster, consistently striking sleds with impressive force, as well as displaying decent speed in individual drills.
Hekking, who had 22.5 sacks in college, has demonstrated a knack for generating pressure against the second- and third-team offensive lines. During 11-on-11s on Friday, Hekking easily out muscled rookie tackle Forrestal Hickman to apply pressure on QB Brad Sorensen from the outside. On Sunday, working against offensive linemen and running backs during run drills, Hekking made a nice move to disengage from guard Craig Watts and make a play on RB Dreamius Smith.
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An area where Hekking has struggled is in pass coverage, where he has looked lost at times dropping back. Working with the third string defense on Saturday, Hekking allowed an easy completion to TE Kyle Miller. And on Sunday, Hekking left TE Eric Frohnapfel wide open.
However, because Hekking is making the transition from college defensive end to pro outside linebacker, it's expected he will be uncomfortable in coverage this early in camp.
While not the most polished linebacker, Hekking definitely has a chance to make the team, as outside linebacker may be the least established position on San Diego's entire roster.
Melvin Ingram and 2014 second-round pick Jeremiah Attaochu are obvious locks, but both missed significant time with injuries last season. Third-year linebacker Tourek Williams has looked good in camp and will make the team, but has been mediocre during his first two seasons in the league. Hekking's main competition for the last few outside linebacker spots will come from former Calgary Stampeder Cordarro Law, who appeared in three games for the Bolts last season, and 2015 fifth-round pick Kyle Emanuel.
If Hekking continues to display a high motor and shows improvement throughout camp and the preseason, he should definitely be up for a practice squad spot at the very least. And based on the injury bug that has plagued San Diego's outside linebackers the past few seasons, it wouldn't be surprising if Hekking made it back on the team at some point during the regular season.
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A San Diego native, Trenton Villanueva graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in the hydraulic principles of the keg. Prior to writing for SDBR, he covered sports news for FanSided and wrote music reviews for the San Diego State Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter @TrentNotDilfer