The San Diego Chargers DB Report
Having let “The Beard” move on, the Chargers didn’t overhaul their defensive backfield (three of four starters return), but Eric Weddle was the face of the unit (if not the entire defense) and without him the team will need new leadership to step up and propel the unit forward.
In January 2016, in the midst of the NFL playoffs, the Chargers signed Canadian Football League standout, Dexter McCoil to a Reserve/Futures contract.
Then in March, as the free agency period got going, the Chargers signed safety Dwight Lowery.
In the NFL Draft the Chargers did not select any defensive backs but as soon as the draft concluded they signed Trevor Williams, Adrian McDonald, and Terrell Chestnut as Undrafted Free Agents (UDFA).
The Chargers currently have a versatile group of defensive backs on their 90-man roster.
It is early, but here is what they currently have in camp:
So who will make the roster?
As discussed in previous group profiles, teams have 53-man roster once the season begins but can only dress 46 on game days. DBs are often used in special teams. So on game days the Chargers will probably dress 7-9 and will likely have at least one more on the 53-man roster.
The starters, unless something unusual happens will likely be Flowers and Verrett at the corners and Addae and Lowery as safeties. Teams regularly use three corners and Hayward will likely be the third “starter” at slot-corner. Beyond those five, Darrell Stuckey will make the roster as a back-up safety and special teams standout. I have a hard time seeing the Chargers cut Craig Mager, whom they used a 3rd round draft pick to acquire in 2015. Steve Williams was another frequent back-up contributor in 2015 so those two have the inside track on backup jobs again this year. But I do know, however, that the team really likes their UFDA rookies and will not want to release them.
At safety I have a hard time believing the Chargers will not retain Dexter McCoil He continues to impress and has unique size (6’3” 220). The Chargers will likely use McCoil as a hybrid LB/S. I also know the team is very fond of UDFA Adrian McDonald.
It’s real easy to come up with 10-11 defensive backs but I’m just not sure if the Chargers will keep that many. Will a couple wind up on the scout team? Sure. But the very act of transferring a player to the scout team roster is to risk losing that player to another team. The Chargers’ group of DBs isn’t short on talent and promise but they are short on experience. This position-group will be tough to work through for Chargers’ coaching staff and front office personnel.
It would be remiss for me not to talk about the departure of Eric Weddle. Weddle was a standout at safety for many years for the Chargers. However at the end of last season the Chargers and Weddle engaged in a very odd he said/she said spat that definitely looked to place the Chargers in the wrong. However Weddle’s play wasn’t as strong as it was 3-4 years ago (his 2011 season was amazing).
To re-sign Weddle (let’s forget the personal disagreement between team and player) would have handicapped the roster/salary cap. Additionally, upon leaving, Weddle talked extensively about a lack of leadership on the team and how players (particularly young defenders) were not putting in extra work…I would agree that Weddle’s description is problematic, but if there was a problem with leadership on defense, isn’t he pointing the finger at himself, the highest profile defender on last year’s roster? As a fan, I do not wish ill will towards Weddle and I will root for him in Baltimore, but the Chargers were right to let him move on.
Much like the Chargers’ O-Line, the biggest factor for the Chargers will be health. Jason Verrett isn’t getting the press his play merits. He is easily a top-10 CB if not a top five player. He needs to be able to stay healthy – something he hasn’t always been able to do as a pro (missed 10 games in ’14 and 2 in ’15). Hayward missed a bunch of time in ’14 and Flowers, who had an awful 2015 campaign by his own assessment, was injured for much of last year as well. But if those three can be healthy for the majority of the season, the Chargers have a very underrated and talented group of corners.
The Chargers’ safeties are probably not quite as talented as their corners but they are very serviceable. The Chargers shouldn’t lose games because of their safeties. Assuming health, the defensive backfield can very-much be a strength for the Chargers.
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