San Diego Chargers Offseason Position Needs, Part Six: Cornerback

Paul PreibisiusAnalyst IApril 12, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 19:  Cornerback Donovan Warren #6 of the Michigan Wolverines exhorts the crowd in the game with the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Michigan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won 45-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

San Diego enters 2010 with its deepest cornerback roster in a long time. 

Quentin Jammer is still entrenched in his position as the team’s primary corner, but now has the potential for a bit more help.

2008 first-round selection Antoine Cason is expected to earn the starting role opposite Jammer.  His fundamentals over athleticism approach left him exposed when asked to play tight slot coverage, but he is expected to fare much better in zone coverage along the outside.

Should he falter the team now has plenty of insurance in recent signings Nathan Vasher and Donald Strickland.

The two are expected to compete over the nickel and dime roles, with Vasher the nickel front-runner.  His formative years as a defensive back were under Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in Chicago, and he has shown better speed and ball-skills.

Both are capable starters however, and either could supplant Cason if he does not prove up to the task.

With the team’s newfound depth at corner, it would not be surprising for them to forgo the position entirely in the draft.  There are plenty of lesser needs that the mid-late rounds can be invested in.

Yet, depth at the position in this year's draft coupled with Cason's inexperience and the injury histories of the two new signings may just be enough for the team to give a look at the cornerback position.

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Given the team's 2010 scenario, they can afford to develop players over seeking an immediate help, which opens up increased avenues for the team.

If they have faith that a lead running back can be found in the third round and Kyle Wilson drops, he may be difficult to pass up at that 40th pick. 

There are a few other solid second-round options, but short of a mid-first round talent falling, they are unlikely to ponder the position in round two.

Rounds three and four could hold several interesting prospects however. Brandon Ghee has good size and speed, and would be similar to Wilson as a difficult player to pass up should he fall to the end of the third.

Amari Spievey is much more likely to be the top choice still available as round three tapers off however.  His modest 40 time amidst a deep grouping should be enough to take him nearly a round below his overall value.  He has decent size and should fit in well as another physical option for San Diego’s secondary.

The best steal of the cornerback class however, could be at the back of the fourth round.

Donovan Warren entered into the offseason with an outside chance at cracking the first round.  A mediocre 40, coupled with strong combines from several other corners, dropped his stock considerably.

It does not help that he declared as a junior at a position that generally takes more experience to truly hone.  Teams in need of a corner will likely pass him up in favor of someone looking more NFL-ready.

Which makes San Diego the perfect home for Warren.  He will have time to develop playing behind seasoned veterans.

After two seasons Vasher and Strickland will both be free agents while Jammer will be approaching 33.

Cason looks well-built for the second starting role, but does not appear to be a future No. 1 guy.  Remaining at his natural position while Warren segues from additional DB duties into eventually supplanting Jammer should leave the Chargers extremely well situated for both the present and the future at corner.

Given San Diego’s current depth at corner, along with the solid CB class, it would not make sense to reach for a prospect.  Any player drafted at the position should be done so with the idea that they may eventually supplant one of the current established corners. 

Players like Spievey and Warren are perfect examples of this as prospects that could well become leading corners in the NFL, but are hurt by the number of prospects.

Due to where and what San Diego needs, Warren in the fourth appears to be the ideal fit here, if they are to pursue a cornerback in the 2010 draft.