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The San Diego Chargers made a quantum leap under first-year coach Mike McCoy, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs and, more importantly, reviving Philip Rivers’ career. The Bolts offense was among the league’s best under McCoy, but the team isn’t going to advance much further without plugging holes in its defense.
Last year, the team drafted Keenan Allen in the third round and what a steal that turned out to be. With the attention turned to the defensive side of the ball this year, the Chargers have to hope to strike gold yet again — and at multiple positions. The team needs help up front with nose tackle Cam Thomas heading to free agency, and even more pressing is reinforcements in the secondary. Derex Cox proved to be one of the biggest free-agent busts last year and isn’t expected back with the team. In addition, Richard Marshall is a free agent and could walk.
It seems like a given the Bolts will address the cornerback position with their first pick, though which prospect is around and highest on their board remains a mystery. It’s likely the top two corners Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert will be off the board, leaving the Chargers to choose from Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby, Marcus Robertson and Loucheiz Purifoy.
Verrett and Roby are both in contention to be the third-rated corner, according to scouts. Verrett was a lockdown corner at TCU, shutting down the Big 12’s top receivers en route to being named the conference’s co-Defensive Player of the Year. Roby was an All-American in 2012, but like Verrett, there are some concerns about his size. Robertson led Florida with 12 pass breakups in 2012 but only saw action in seven games last season, while his teammate, Purifoy, had two picks, forced a fumble, blocked a punt, and registered a pair of sacks.
San Diego can address its tackle spot a little bit later on, with Ra’Shede Hageman and Aaron Donald likely being prime targets. Hageman has first-round talent but may take some time to reach his potential. Donald has quite the motor as a 3-technique, and though some scouts view him as only a situational player he has the ability to both stuff the run and generate a pass rush.
The team found Allen in the third round last year, and perhaps they’ll follow the same blueprint this go-round. Malcom Floyd’s career may be over, Danario Alexander is a free agent, and both Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal were disappointments. Not to mention Antonio Gates is another year older.
Could Vanderbilt standout Jordan Matthews fall into the Bolts’ lap in Round 3? Or what about Davante Adams or Donte Moncrief? Matthews excelled in the SEC and he may slip only due to concerns about this athleticism. Adams has drawn comparisons to Allen, so consider the possibility of the two of them on the same squad. Moncrief hauled in 59 passes for over 900 yards and six touchdowns at Ole Miss last season and is climbing up draft boards.
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