The Los Angeles Chargers could use help at the safety position. While safeties <a href="http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-dexter-mccoil-jersey-c-1_18.html">Dexter McCoil Jersey</a> Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams are intriguing prospects at No. 7 overall (if available), the Chargers could find a potential star on Day 2 or 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft.
If you watched the Chargers play last season (and weren’t too busy downing alcohol), you could argue that safety was their only weakness on defense. Sure, they lack quality depth at the cornerback position, but at least they have two Pro Bowlers in Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward as their starters.
Dwight Lowery, who signed a three-year, $7.2 million deal ($1.5 million guaranteed) in the 2016 offseason, was Eric Weddle’s replacement. He wasn’t a <a href="http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-drew-kaser-jersey-c-1_21.html">http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-drew-kaser-jersey-c-1_21.html complete liability in coverage, but the 31-year-old let up some big plays and played timid at times. He also went from picking off a career-high four passes in 2015 to intercepting just one ball last year.
On the other hand, 2013 undrafted free agent Jahleel Addae did well in his fourth year as a Charger. According to Pro Football Focus, Addae was the 12th-best safety who did a solid job against the run (led the secondary with an 85.5 run-defense grade and ranked 13th overall in that category among qualifying NFL safeties). Also, he only allowed a 56.8 passer rating when targeted, per PFF. Despite being an aggressive, hard-hitting safety, Addae missed eight games in 2016 due to a broken collarbone and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year (2013). The 27-year-old will be back with the Chargers after being rewarded with a four-year deal.
Behind those two are Darrell Stuckey, a special teams ace, and a few former undrafted free agents in Adrian Phillips, Adrian McDonald and Dexter McCoil. Both Phillips and McCoil had their ups and downs while McDonald never saw the field. Of those three players, McCoil is a player to watch out for in 2017.
Only two great plays come to mind when thinking of the former CFL standout (picking off Texans’ Brock Osweiler on a Hail Mary attempt to seal the game in Houston and batting the ball down for the home win against the Broncos), but having a full year of NFL experience under his belt should build confidence going forward. McCoil also has the size (6-4, 220 pounds) that new DC Gus Bradley covets, and I believe Bradley will utilize the versatile hybrid to his strengths this season.
The Chargers should still look for a true free safety. Ohio State’s Malik Hooker has been mocked to the Chargers at No. 7 overall plenty of times over the past few months. Despite his Ed Reed-like potential (via draft experts), the Chargers should pass on the first-year starter (who is recovering from recent surgeries/might not even make it to the seventh pick) and try and trade back for extra picks or snag one of the top edge rushers. Washington’s Budda Baker or Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu would be excellent choices in the second round, but they might not be on the clock when the Chargers make their second pick.
That’s fine, because the safety class is so deep that they can still get a Day 1 playmaker in Rounds 2-4. That said, here are two prospects that would fit perfectly in the Chargers’ defensive scheme.
MARCUS WILLIAMS, UTAH: No, Utah’s Marcus Williams has <a href="http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-jahleel-addae-jersey-c-1_24.html">http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-jahleel-addae-jersey-c-1_24.html no relations to current Jets cornerback Marcus Williams or former NBA player Marcus Williams (perhaps a new T.V series entitled “Meet the Williams” is in the making).
The Chargers want a ball-hawking, single-high safety for Bradley’s 4-3 scheme? Then look no further than Williams. The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder totaled 10 interceptions over his last two seasons. In 2016, Williams graded out as PFF’s third-best safety in college football and led all FBS safeties in run-stop percentage. He finished with the second-highest tackle efficiency (three missed tackles) among FBS safeties, per PFF. In comparison, Hooker, who’s major flaw is tackling, led the Buckeyes’ defense with 14 missed tackles and ranked 136th in tackling efficiency.
But what Williams did in coverage was even more impressive, according to PFF’s Josh Liskiewitz.
“Possibly the most eye-popping stat on him this season was his 0.09 yards surrendered per coverage snap. This metric takes the total yardage a player allows into his coverage and divides it by the number of coverage snaps played, and is a way to gauge the efficiency of a player’s production in coverage.. Not surprisingly, Williams also led all qualifying FBS safeties (more than 100 coverage snaps played) in total yards allowed, with just 38.”
Williams shined at the NFL Scouting Combine, too. He ranked second behind Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu in the vertical jump with a spectacular 43.5-inch vertical. He was also one of the top performers in the broad jump (10-foot, 9-inch jump; third-best), 3-cone drill (6.85 time; fifth-best) and 60-yard shuttle (11.62 time; second-best). Despite his 4.56 40-yard dash (tied for ninth-best), Williams put up great numbers in important drills.
Williams is an athlete and football player. As a single-high safety (with double-high looks) at Utah, he showed off great range, solid instincts and was smooth in <a href="http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-junior-seau-jersey-c-1_31.html">http://www.officialchargesshop.com/shop-by-players-junior-seau-jersey-c-1_31.html coverage. Not only does he have good awareness when the ball is in the air, he can also wrap up running backs and receivers.