Perhaps one of the biggest questions facing the Los Angeles Chargers defense ahead of a long offseason and the 2018 season will revolve around the impact of star corner Jason Verrett.
Drafted out of TCU in the first round of the 2014 draft (25th overall), Verrett has made a big impact on the league whenever he has been available for the Bolts. The only significant drawback, obviously, has been the amount of time he has spent sitting on the sideline rather than in pads during his three years in the league so far.
Since being drafted, Verrett has started just 25 games for the Chargers out of a possible 64 which has obviously raised plenty of question marks about his durability and his long-term benefit to the Los Angeles franchise moving forward.
The Chargers opted to pick up the fifth-year option on Verrett’s rookie deal which will tie him to the team for the foreseeable future, and see the Bolts shell out a touch over $8.25 million for the 2018 season.
With Casey Hayward proving a Pro-Bowl caliber corner in the other slot since his free agency move from Green Bay after the 2015 season, the Chargers should boast one of the more capable and competitive corner duos in the league.
In Verrett’s absence, Trevor Williams put together a solid season for the Chargers during the 2017 campaign. The 24-year-old, two-season pro out of Penn State played all 16 games for the Bolts in 2017, starting 15, and racking up two interceptions, 13 passes defended and 43 tackles. With his solid production, the Chargers looked decent enough in the secondary, or at the very least at corner.
Rookie Desmond King also performed well enough as a slot defender, leaving coach Anthony Lynn with some depth at the position, but it is imperative that a potential superstar like Verrett gets on the field and makes the sort of impact he is capable of making in the NFL.
In a passing league like the modern NFL, there is plenty of value in having two standout studs at cornerback, capable of picking off even the best quarterbacks in the league and with Verrett alongside Hayward, and King and Williams as cover, the Chargers look stacked at the position.
That is, however, as long as Verrett is fit and firing for the whole season in 2018.
Verrett adds a certain flair and class to a defense fast becoming known as one of the best in the league under the returning Gus Bradley.
Plenty of pre-draft analysts questioned the selection of Verrett based on his size but the 5-foot-9-inch corner has shown he can match it with the best wide receivers and pass catchers in the league when fit.
Strength and conditioning has been a question mark for the Chargers since long before their move to Los Angeles and while things seemed to improve a bit last season, injuries once again reared their ugly head through the season.
If Verrett can overcome the concerns around his durability and fitness, he’s genuinely a Pro-Bowl caliber corner in his own right, making for a tremendous duo (or trio) in the backfield for the Bolts.