Marcus Gilchrist And The Lack Of Depth At Cornerback

Nov 1, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Marcus Gilchrist (38) during warm-ups before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It seems to be in the books already: Marcus Gilchrist will play strong safety for the San Diego Chargers next year. I can see him doing a great job at that position, but what makes me a little bit worried is the depth situation at cornerback.

The starters Shareece Wright and Derek Cox seem to be very injury-prone; both missed games last season due to injuries. Already in week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, Wright suffered an ankle sprain and wasn´t able to take part in the remaining games in September and October 2012. Cox has missed 17 games over the past three seasons and 14 over the last two.

With a four-year contract worth $20 million (with 10.25 million guaranteed) the 26-year old corner was the most expensive acquisition for the Chargers this offseason. The former third-round pick of 2009 (by the Jacksonville Jaguars) had a strong start into his NFL career – i.e. already in his rookie season, he recorded 58 tackles and four interceptions. He has good size (6´1”) and is very physical, but the Jacksonville Jaguars have been quite frustrated with his inability to stay healthy. It´s definitely a possibility that we might feel the same way next season, when he´d find himself a nice, comfortable home on the injury report list.

If one of those starters go down with an injury, who will be there to take over his place?

Tom Telesco selected Steve Williams in the fifth round of this years´ NFL draft. Williams has great speed and ball skills, but with 5’9″ he is a bit under-sized. His primary role here in San Diego will probably be to serve as nickelback. But if Wright or Cox go down, he would be the first one to be plugged in there on the outside I guess. I´ve to admit I wouldn´t feel very comfortable with that move, as I´m not too sure if a player of his size is able to make an impact on the outside already in his rookie season. I guess it would be the best for him to gain some experience in nickel formations before he´s put into a starting role at outside cornerback. But the young kid got talent – no doubt.

August 17, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Johnny Patrick (32) against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the next name on the list would be the free agent pick-up Johnny Patrick.

Claiming cornerback Johnny Patrick off waivers from the New Orleans Saints was Tom Telesco´s first player move as General Manager of the San Diego Chargers. Patrick was a third round pick in 2011; 88th overall to be exact, which means he was picked by the Saints right before the Chargers selected Shareece Wright. Last season he was on the field for 218 snaps, i.e. he played in 15 games, with only one as starter.

On April 8th, our GM brought in free agent cornerback Cornelius Brown who went undrafted in 2010 and played some games for the Indianapolis Colts from 2010 to 2011. He´ll compete for a roster spot in training camp, but I don´t think he can be seen as a guy who can step in as a starter (if he makes the final roster).

About a month ago, the Chargers head man added some more depth at the position. I.e. right after the “NFL Player Selection Meeting”, the undrafted free agents Marcus Cromartie, Josh Johnson, Greg Brown and Kenny Okoro found their way onto the Bolts´ roster. But surely not all of these guys will wear a Lightning Bolt uniform in 2013.

I guess Marcus Cromartie is an interesting name for us BoltHeads; he is the cousin of former Chargers´ corner Antonio Cromartie. With 6’1”,195 pounds and a 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds, the UDFA has a good combination of size and speed. I hope he´ll be in better control of his animal instincts than his older cousin (the Ex-Charger has fathered twelve children with eight women living in six states…*shaking my head*).

Josh Johnson was considered to be a day three selection in this year´s NFL draft. With 5’10” (and 199 pounds) he comes in at a similar size as Steve Williams. But with 4.42 seconds the Chargers´ fifth round pick had a better 40-yard dash time than the undrafted free agent with 4.65 seconds. If he makes the team, he´ll be a special teamer or maybe a dime defender at best.

Just like Johnson, Greg Brown couldn´t impress anyone with his 40-yard dash time of 4.62 seconds. And with 5’10” (and 185 pounds) he even comes in at the exact same size as above-mentioned UDFA. The two-year starter at cornerback for Kansas could also transition to safety.

With 6’0″ (and 190 pounds) Kenny Okoro has good size and length for the position. He seems to have great instincts but needs to clean up his footwork and stay balanced in his drops. Okoro has also experience in playing safety, which adds to his value and maybe gives him a better shot at playing for the Chargers in 2013.

So, these are the names of the defensive backs that are currently on the roster. As already mentioned, not all of them will make the final 53-man crew. And I guess the undrafted free agents will have to prove themselves on the special teams before they´ll get a chance at a bigger role on the defense. This means, cornerback depth is definitely a concern.

I also heard some fans arguing, that Marcus Gilchrist can move back to cornerback as soon as strong safety Brandon Taylor is healthy again. But is it that easy? I mean, Gilchrist didn´t had that much games on the outside and if he makes the whole offseason workouts as safety, then I can´t see him being a legit starter at outside cornerback when Wright or Cox goes down with an injury.

So, I would highly welcome it if a solid corner gets cut after (or on) June 1 and Tom Telesco would pull the trigger on that guy. In a previous piece I already listed some names, which probably could be cut from the roster in order to free up some cap space.

Hopefully injuries won´t bother us too much (especially not at this specific position) and I hope we won´t regret it to not re-sign strong safety Quentin Jammer to a cheap, short-term contract.

BoltFam, what do you think about the cornerback situation? What are your thoughts on the current starters and the depth chart at that position? Let the Bolt family know what´s going on in your mind – you know where to find the comments section.

Thank you for checking out these lines and keep bolting this joint!

BoltnRoll!

Topics: San Diego Chargers

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  • tubbs45

    Another factor will be cuts at the June 1st deadline. I do like Williams as a slot guy to cover smaller slot (welker-types), but it remains to be seen if the UFAs will be impact guys. it is awfully quiet at the fortress in that regard. Marcus Cromartie was a hell of a tallent in college…
    Nice write up again MCB!

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    I am a patient boy.. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait… My time.. is water down the drain…

    • MC Boltman

      I´m patient too, but I think there´s nothing wrong about expressing my concerns about >current< situations…btw it´s offseason!…

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Hahahaha… gotta love the offseason!

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    Saying Stevie Williams isn’t tall enough, is like saying Vincent Brown isn’t tall enough. I haven’t been as excited for our secondary in years! I know everyone is all wrapped up in the “Clary is doing great story”… But, do you seriously think they would cut Jammer over $940,000 dollars, if Gilchrist wasn’t better at safety? Mark my words.. He is a little undersized, but he will do fine… He might even beast Taylor out! More CB depth will be added… Players will be cut in less than 48 hours to free up cap space.. On all teams. Then we’ll say.. “Oh.. I didn’t realize we could get that player.. Got it”. It seems like every time people start to question Telesco’s moves… He knocks it out of the park. Lets just have an “I believe” moment here, folks.

    • Alter Ego

      I believe in Williams as well. It would have been prudent to have signed Jammer and have him fight for a roster spot. If he won it he makes us better…if not – we cut our loss for almost nothing.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Agree about Williams… I disagree about Jammer. Those days are gone. Should have been years ago.

        • Dion Chin

          Jammer’s day have been long gone for years now, people just hate to admit cause he was a fan fave.

      • MC Boltman

        Well the 10th time: I like this dude too…but I want to give him time to develop before I´d plug a rookie like him into a starting role on the outside

    • Rob Base

      I think Williams will be a little Tasmanian devil. I’m excited about that dude.

      • MC Boltman

        I like him too…just think he needs some time to develop into a starter in the NFL – it seems everybody was shocked when Wright was “announced” as starter – but there are no worries bout a 5´9″ rookie…okay – I like this dude, but I think it´s better to give him time to develop into a starter…but if e.g. Wright goes down already in week 1 (just like last year), then Williams probably would´ve have to start right away…and this something I´m not too hyped about. But again, just like I´ve posted a 1000 times here: I got trust in TT!

    • I_Bleed_Powder_Blue_801

      I concur…he’ll knock it the f out, then High Voltage hand job will follow….

      • PakMaN

        Don’t mind the name change, my offer to TT still stands!

        • FitzWilly

          LoL
          Bolt Bater
          Bolt Baby Batter
          Lightening Rod
          etc….

        • I_Bleed_Powder_Blue_801

          I think your name should be Carlos like in Hangover 1 the movie…..

          • I_Bleed_Powder_Blue_801

            Frickin’ Disqus won’t let me log in with my facebook account here anymore either….same photo, but new name too..
            James….

      • FitzWilly

        We can change our name to the:
        HanDiego Chargers :)
        just a thought

        Am I right Ladies :)

    • Cgoodness13

      Taylor can play CB also so if he might just trade spots with him lol

    • Dion Chin

      I totally agree. Williams is a playmaker on D and if Brandon Flowers can play CB in this league, so can Steve Williams

      • MC Boltman

        I agree, Williams can play in this league…but I said I´d rather give him time to develop into a starter at outside CB…(Flowers 5´10″, 2nd rd pick – Williams 5`9″ – 5th rd pick). Let him be the slot guy for the first year(s)

        • Dion Chin

          Fair enough.

    • MC Boltman

      Hey first of all, I can´t read in the text above that I said I don´t like that Gilchrist move…the second sentence says: “I can see him doing a GREAT JOB at that position, but what makes me a little bit worried is the depth situation at cornerback…I got trust in TT, but I can have my own view on things – and I´m worried about the CURRENT CB depth situation… and I´m not saying Williams can´t do it on the outside, I said I think he needs time to develop as a starter – I like this dude! but let him gain experience in nickel formations first (btw there´s also a small difference between 5`9″ and 5`11″..not much but there is one) …but if he´s such a stud and doesn´t need time to develop, why wasn´t he a 1st or 2nd round pick? (btw he also was considered as a reach in 5th…)…why do we have to be always like “lalala everythings fine…we´re perfectly set up”? – When I´m looking at the injury-proneness of our CB starters…then why can´t I just post my concerns bout that? And how do you want to know if Gilchrist is really better than Jammer right now?? Gilchrist makes his transition right now…I don´t think that you know already right now that he´s better than Jammer…and $940.000 for a reliable (healthy) depth insurance isn´t that bad either…I don´t know how often I posted here that I trust TT – but when I´m posting that I´m a little bit worried about the CURRENT depth situation, then I´m a guy who´s questioning our GM? Come on…

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Oh, dang! Sorry MC….didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers. Wasn’t my intention whatsoever. When I was posting that, my thoughts were general. I wasn’t posting it to you. I can see where you might have thought that, though… so my bad. The “V-Brown isn’t that tall either” thing was because I have seen a lot of people concerned that Williams is too short lately. He had a WICKED vertical leap, so I hope he can defend outside, too. Maybe he can go up for the ball like V-Brown does, although he is a little shorter. But, yes I agree it will take time, as you said. I know he was a late round pick, but I have a good feeling that he will be good. It’s not based on fact really, I just have a feeling. I liked his tape. I know what you mean when you said “current” depth too. Scares me a little, as well. I am pretty sure it will be addressed soon. If not, YIKES!

        I always love your thoughts, and viewpoints. Hope you don’t think otherwise, brudda ; )

        • MC Boltman

          No prob bro…I was a little bit confused, but you can post things the way you like it…I think we could figure it out anyway…and we don´t have to agree on all things…but I also wanted to point out that I don´t think Williams is too small in general, but I think it would be too early for him to be plugged in at outside CB immediately – but these are just my thoughts…I think the best for him is to be slot guy for the first year, but I love his tape too – So again…no hard feelings – it´s ok when it gets rough sometimes :) It´s alright “brudda” ;)

          • FitzWilly

            :)

          • MC Boltman

            haha…yeh we hugged it out :)

          • FitzWilly

            Awesome
            #BoltHug

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            hahaha

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Also, I shouldn’t have said “Gilchrist was better” than Jammer… I should have said it was a better direction to go in. My thinking on that is that Gilchrist will be on the team for a while, and he is good insurance if Taylor’s knee doesn’t hold up. If we brought Jammer back for a year, then the experience could potentially walk out the door with him when he left… unless, of course, he ended up being a total bad-ass, and stole the starting position.

        • MC Boltman

          Well, I know I “made a case” for Jammer more than once, but I´m not sold on Jammer – I thought more about good vet presence and solid, cheap depth option and giving Taylor time to heal. And my only concern about Gilchrist moving over to safety, is the depth situation at CB. But I think Gilchrist will do great there…and I agree I can see him outplaying Taylor. If we get a solid CB in FA, then everything´s fine – the direction we´re going makes sense…I like the job TT is doing #boltup

  • Rob Base

    I’m thinking Cro and Okoro have a shot to make the roster.

    • MC Boltman

      Would be cool…hope at least two of those guys will make the roster (if we don´t get busy in FA again).

  • blu3ny3llow

    I really like Cromartie…I like his chances of making the team…..n maybe a gem will be cut once rosters get trimmed down

    • MC Boltman

      I´m pretty confident he´ll wear a Lightning Bolt uniform next season…but he´ll find most of his playtime on special teams I guess…so another FA signing would be cool.

  • C.Steele

    Spot on article Boltman! I do think TT will pick up another corner via free agency… Soon! #GoBolts

    • MC Boltman

      Thanx very much! I´m just expressing my concerns…yes I guess after (or on) June 1 he´ll get chances to grab one…thanx again!

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