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Confident Cromartie goes to Chargers with 19th pick

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20060429-1645-fbn-chargers-cromartie.html">Associated Press</a>

    By Bernie Wilson

    <img align="left" alt="Antonio Cromartie" title="Antonio Cromartie" src="http://vmedia.rivals.com/uploads/1061/251557.jpg" />SAN DIEGO – Antonio Cromartie might need to get a refresher on how to run out of the tunnel before games.

    The San Diego Chargers used the 19th pick overall in Saturday's draft to pick the Florida State cornerback, who missed the entire 2005 season after tearing up his left knee in a summer voluntary workout.

    While his resume is somewhat lacking, his confidence isn't.

    "My game is as good as anybody that's in the draft now, if not better," said Cromartie, who started just one game in college but estimated that he was in for 60 percent of the Seminoles' snaps as a freshman and sophomore. He skipped his senior season in order to turn pro.

    Cromartie's agent is even more confident than his client.

    "He's ready to go," said Jason Fletcher, whose brother, Jamar, wasn't re-signed by the Chargers this offseason. "This man, hands down, will be the best corner on that team, in my personal opinion."

    That might not be a stretch. While the Chargers weren't willing to take a chance on quarterback Drew Brees because of his shoulder injury, they were willing to take a player coming off a major injury because their secondary has been so bad. San Diego's cornerbacks had only three interceptions last year, including one by Jamar Fletcher, as they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

    Some viewed the pick as a stretch, especially since offensive tackle Winston Justice was still available. The Chargers need depth at left tackle, particularly with untested Philip Rivers taking over for Brees.

    The Chargers did get a tackle in the second round – Auburn's Marcus McNeill.

    "I don't think they gambled at all," Cromartie said. "I'm back to health, I'm 100 percent, and I'm just ready to get to work. My goal is to be starting by the end of the season, or before the end of the season."

    This is the third time in five seasons the Chargers have taken a cornerback with a first-round pick.

    Quentin Jammer, taken in 2002, hasn't played to his pedigree and has never been to the Pro Bowl. In 2003, general manager A.J. Smith could have taken safety Troy Polamalu at No. 15, but traded down to 30th to select Sammy Davis. Polamalu went to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 16th pick and became a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion. Davis was a bust and was traded to San Francisco recently for receiver Rashaun Woods.

    Cromartie said he turned pro out of financial necessity. He said his mother is battling breast cancer and the medical bills are piling up. He said his grandmother is also ill.

    "The best thing for me was to come out and support the family, me being the man of the house," he said.

    In college, Cromartie was compared with Deion Sanders, another former Seminole.

    "It's a great compliment," Cromartie said. "I'll probably tackle a little bit more than he did. That's probably the only difference between me and him."

    Cromartie, who's 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, had four interceptions as a sophomore and five in his career. He had 41 tackles overall.

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who clashed with Smith's decision to let injured quarterback Drew Brees leave as a free agent, said he agreed with this pick.

    "I've always said I like big, physical corners," Schottenheimer said. "There is no question that he has a lot of work to do. But he's got rare skills. It generally begins with that."

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