Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL makes a luxurious living based on rumors, especially during the offseason.
And the 2014 NFL Draft has brought with it more speculation than the advancement of nuclear capabilities in the Middle East. Add the two extra weeks this year and you have more rumors than TMZ and E! Entertainment News could produce in a calendar year (okay, maybe not). Tom Telesco recently noted that he doesn’t even have to lie to the media to avoid publicizing strategy anymore – the frenzied media does it for him.
With all of these rumors swirling about, I’d like to see one rumor become a fact: The Chargers must draft Jason Verrett with the 25th overall pick in this year’s draft.
I never thought I’d be saying this, but it’s highly likely Quentin Jammer (although well passed his prime) was greatly under-appreciated by the Charger faithful in his waning years with the Bolts. In 2012, his last year with the team, the Chargers ranked 17th in passing yards allowed for the season, giving up 3,681 on the year, or 230.1 per game. Not fantastic numbers, but fast forward to 2013 and the Chargers gave up 258.7 per game (4,139 on the year), dropping 11 spots to 28th – good for the 4th worst passing defense in the entire league.
Imagine with me for one moment then, that the Chargers had a shutdown corner.
Changes things doesn’t it? All of a sudden the Chargers have a chance in the playoff game against the Denver Broncos. The Houston Texans’ improbable comeback is stymied by an INT or a pass defensed. Pierre Garcon and RGIII don’t resemble Jerry Rice and Joe Montana, and all of a sudden the Chargers avoid an embarrassing loss to the Redskins.
In an increasingly pass happy league, and within a division touting arguably the best passing QB of all time (throwing to a freakish duo of Julius and Demaryius Thomas), one cannot expect the Chargers to contend for an AFC West Division title, much less make a run deep into the playoffs with the 28th ranked passing defense.
Because the Chargers overachieved last year they own the 25th pick in the draft. Unfortunately the 25th pick is too late to draft either potential shutdown corner Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard. Even Kyle Fuller, touted for his height but not expected to be a shutdown corner, could be snatched up by then.
But that still leaves Telesco and Mike McCoy with one potentially solid option to fill this need at cornerback: Jason Verrett.
What I like: Verrett plays with a chip on his shoulder. He knows he’s undersized, but he’s out to prove that doesn’t matter. It certainly wasn’t an issue during his TCU career, where he finished with nine interceptions, 34 passes defensed, and was named the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12 Conference last season. His attitude, competitiveness, and grit is something the Chargers defense could use and have sorely lacked since the Shawne Merriman on steroids days. Check out his highlights here.
In an article by Stefan Stevenson of Star Telegram, Verrett explains how his skills translate to the NFL and how he must get smarter, saying, “In the league it’s more about competing. It’s not necessarily that just because you’re 6-foot you’re going to be able to defend the jump ball and defend the deep ball. You still have to have that skill set and the instincts to make plays. My size hasn’t stopped me from making plays, so all I’m going to have to do is get smarter to make plays in the league because there’s going to be more smart receivers.”
What I don’t like: He’s small -5’9″, 189 lbs. That is literally the only knock on this guy. As previously mentioned, I’d prefer to see the Chargers end up with a taller cornerback, but you have to make do with what you have, and I believe Verrett is a perfect choice late in the first round.
Verrett is rumored to have been in San Diego recently, rehabbing a shoulder injury and working out. And hopefully after tomorrow he’ll be looking for a residence here as well. Then we can begin spreading rumors of a deep playoff run in 2014 for Verrett and the San Diego Chargers.