Playing It Safe At Safety (…and Cornerback)


Oct 15, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Marcus Gilchrist (38) motions for an incomplete pass after Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley (not pictured) caught a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

As you surely know, U-T San Diego recently reported that the Chargers plan to “take a long look at Marcus Gilchrist as a safety over the rest of the offseason”.

Tom Telesco selected CB 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.

For Gilchrist, who is entering his third year with the Bolts, this means that he now can make his transition to outside cornerback or strong safety. The former Chargers second round pick in the 2010 draft played both cornerback and safety in his college time at Clemson. He´s confident to take on any position in the secondary.

“Wherever I can help the team,” he said in a phone interview. “If that means playing corner and helping the team, then that’s where I’ll be. If it means safety, that’s where I’ll be. Wherever the coaches feel I can help the team best.”

Gilchrist moving over to safety could make sense. But when looking at the Chargers´ cornerback situation I´m not too sure if this is the right move. Shareece Wright, the Bolts´ 2011 third round pick, and Derek Cox, who they signed this off-season to a four-year contract (worth $20 million with 10.25 million guaranteed), likely will be the starting corners for the 2013 season.

Derek Cox was one of the bigger cornerback names in this year´s free agency. The former third-round pick of 2009 (by the Jacksonville Jaguars) started off his NFL career pretty well – 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 as talented as he may be, his inability to stay healthy makes me concerned. He has missed 17 games over the past three seasons and 14 over the last two.

Also Shareece Wright had his share with injuries so far in his two years with the Chargers. Already in week 1 against the Oakland Raiders last year, he suffered an ankle sprain and wasn´t able to take part in the remaining games in September and October 2012.

General Manager Tom Telesco may has added some depth at the position, but not all of those additions will make the final roster this year. Already weeks before the draft, he picked up the free agent corners Johnny Patrick and Cornelius Brown and right after the “NFL Player Selection Meeting”, the UDFAs Marcus Cromartie, Josh Johnson, Greg Brown and Kenny Okoro found their way onto the Bolts´ roster.

As I already mentioned, some or maybe most of these names, will not make the final roster for the upcoming season. So, considering the injury-proneness as well as the lack of real starting talent at that position – outside of Cox, Wright and Williams in the middle – I´d prefer Gilchrist to move over to the outside and get in competition with Shareece Wright (and Derek Cox). We were pretty thin there already last year, so why making the same mistake again? Sure, we´ll have to wait and see how some of the undrafted free agents will do in training camp. But also if most of those UDFA corners will make the roster, I´d like to see Gilchrist moving over to outside cornerback rather than safety.

Okay, before you all come at me, let me tell you this: I´m aware that we still have to fix that spot next to All-Pro Eric Weddle in the last line of the defense. But letting Marcus Gilchrist make the transition is not the only option to address that hole in the roster.

Brandon Taylor, the Chargers´ third round pick in 2012, is recovering from a torn ACL. He had surgery in January, and probably will not be able to participate in this year´s training camp and also his status for week 1 of the 2013 season is “in question”. Darrel Stuckey is also in the mix for the starting job at strong safety. But he´s doing such a great job on the special teams; maybe he should stay there and try to keep things stable on that unit. The Chargers also added undrafted free agent Jahleel Addae, defensive back from Central Michigan, and the backup at free safety, Sean Cattouse is on the roster too. But none of these guys can be considered as starting caliber material and will more likely serve as backups this season – if they make the final roster.

But if not Marcus Gilchrist, then who could be the “answer” for the 2013 season at strong safety? Well, I got an idea…but this is stuff for another article.

So, it would be cool if ya all´d check out my next piece too, where I will come up with a possible option to upgrade that spot next to #32 Eric Weddle.

Thank you for reading.