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Nasir Adderley is a perfect free safety for the Chargers

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 26: Nasir Adderley #22 of the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens tackles Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 41-14. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 26: Nasir Adderley #22 of the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens tackles Mitch Trubisky #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 41-14. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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CHAPEL HILL, NC – SEPTEMBER 26: Nasir Adderley #23 of the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens tackles Quinshad Davis #14 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 41-14. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC – SEPTEMBER 26: Nasir Adderley #23 of the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens tackles Quinshad Davis #14 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 41-14. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Finding the ball

Adderley’s range would be a full 100 yards if the field was that wide instead of long. So, so much of Jahleel Addae’s job as a deep free safety was highlighted by having next to no clue where the football was:

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jahleel Addae. He starts 20 yards off the ball, has his back to the QB when the ball is released, and has no clue where the ball is as Kittle approaches him. Oh yeah, and Emanuel vs Kittle in slot is a scheme fail. pic.twitter.com/9jyXpicXwl

— The Lightning Round Podcast (@Lightning_Round) October 2, 2018

It’s hard to blame Addae for being in a position that didn’t best fit his skill set, but at times, it was ugly. That play above demonstrates a problem with recognition, recovery, angles, and tackling. There wasn’t a time where fans could remember No. 37 being at the right place at the right time to break up a pass or pick a ball off. That’s why the Chargers took a player who allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 1.3, according to Pro Football Focus.

#Delaware S Nasir Adderley to the #Chargers. Cover skills + range in the post. Fits at FS in Gus Bradley’s defense. Track the ball in Cover 3. #NFL pic.twitter.com/rkr6gxEtcf

— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) April 27, 2019

That’s exactly what has been missing from this defense. The Chargers now have a pass-rushing defensive tackle to create errant throws, and a ball hawk of a safety to make them pay for it. It’s a brilliant pick up by the organization.

Versatility

Let’s compare the snap counts of two players:

Player One:

  • Box safety: 469
  • Free safety: 220
  • Nickel corner: 205
  • Defensive line: 249

Player Two: 

  • Box safety: 261
  • Free safety: 463
  • Nickel corner: 72
  • Defensive line: 1

One player had the benefit of a 16-game regular season, and the other the snaps within a shorter college season. Player one: Derwin James, All-Pro rookie safety in 2018. Adderley is the other, with an overall PFF grade of 90.3, which a higher grade than the 87.8 James received last year. Granted, No. 33 did it against much tougher competition. But the point remains the same: Adderley is a versatile corner-turned-safety whose skill set compliments James’ very well.

Next. Los Angeles Chargers: Winners and losers following the 2019 NFL Draft

Once a weakness for the Chargers, the safety position has now become a source of strength for a team that hasn’t had a truly capable starter there since Eric Weddle. Under the guidance of defensive backs coach Ron Milus, Adderley has instant Pro-Bowl potential on a defense filled with half a dozen players at the top of their position.

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