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Weddle could put Bolts 'D' over the top

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, May 9, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=204580" target="_blank">SportingNews</a>

    by <font class="headline">Vinnie Iyer</font>

    The Chargers got plenty of heat on the first day of the 2007 NFL draft when they gave up four picks -- a second-rounder, two third-rounders and a fifth-rounder -- to get the 37th overall pick to select Eric Weddle, a rangy cornerback/safety hybrid from the University of Utah.<img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/weddle1.jpg" title="Eric Weddle" alt="Eric Weddle" align="right" height="233" width="158" />

    Why so much for Weddle? Well, it didn't help that San Diego would have needed to wait until No. 62 overall for its original second-round pick, a spot where Weddle no longer would have been available. So if the Chargers wanted Weddle, they had to make the aggressive move -- one that makes great sense.

    First, how can you knock what the Chargers have done with first-day draft trades the past six years? They made the right call on the LaDainian Tomlinson-Drew Brees combo over Michael Vick first overall. Then they did it again with Eli Manning, ending up with current Pro Bowlers Philip Rivers and Nate Kaeding.

    Second, the Chargers are in position to win a Super Bowl. They've already excelled at amassing plenty of elite young talent, and had to go after a player whom they think can help them immediately in 2007.

    When I look at Weddle's unique athleticism and versatility for the secondary, I see him as providing exactly what was missing from the Chargers' defense in '06. The offense obviously is a loaded juggernaut, led by Tomlinson and Rivers. The defense's front seven is downright dominant, with Jamal Williams and Luis Castillo controlling the action on the line and Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips ready to clean up from linebacker.

    So that leaves the defensive backs. It helps to have Merriman and Phillips rushing opposing passers to take pressure off how long the Chargers' corners must hold up in coverage, but when they had to cover, there were some problems. According to STATS Inc., Chargers top cornerback Quentin Jammer was the league's most "burned defender" last season, getting beaten 72 times of the 162 times he was targeted by passes. Chargers No. 2 cornerback Drayton Florence wasn't far behind at No. 8, burned 61 times of 97 times targeted.

    The Chargers didn't make enough big plays in the secondary to compensate, either, with only 16 interceptions last season, tied for 17th in the league. In fact, Jammer and Florence combined for only seven, and linebacker Donnie Edwards, now a former Charger, had three of the picks.

    So do I think Weddle will come in and post say, a half-dozen picks? No. But he's a big playmaking upgrade over Terrence Kiel at strong safety. That means the Chargers will be able to do different things by lining up Weddle in particular blitz and coverage packages. With Weddle and 2006 first-round cornerback Antonio Cromartie both likely to be ready to start and cover more ground, Jammer and free safety Marlon McCree should find themselves in better position to make plays more often and getting burned less often.

    While Cromartie is a speed guy, Weddle is someone Chargers fans will love because of his combination of cerebral and physical gifts -- I can't wait to see him play.

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