NFL Draft 2014: Should the San Diego Chargers Trade Up for Justin Gilbert?


Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers’ woes on the defensive side of the football have been well documented over the last few years, especially at the cornerback position. With the departure of the aging Quentin Jammer after the 2012 season, the Chargers defense was in serious need of attention. Enter Derek Cox, The Telesco solution to the problem, signing a 4 year deal with the Chargers valued at $22 million. With the younger but promising Shareece Wright starting opposite him, Head Coach Mike McCoy and Defensive Coordinator John Pagano were confident of a turnaround at the cornerback position. Unfortunately, it became very apparent early on that Derek Cox wasn’t who they thought he was, and he was eventually benched in week 9 against the Washington Redskins after allowing Pierre Garcon to have a career receiving day. The rest of the season was up and down for Cox. A mixed bag of redeeming his starting job only to yield it again to veteran backup Richard Marshall. Cox simply couldn’t find the form he showed in Jacksonville and he was eventually released by the Bolts in the offseason.

That being said, it’s hard to imagine the Bolts drafting a position other than cornerback with their first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and rightfully so. Tom Telesco is a big believer in building through the draft and developing young talent, and his opinion only strengthened moreso after the Derek Cox Debacle of 2013. While there are many pressing needs on this team – offensive and defensive line among them, and WR – it’s time for the Chargers front office to make a statement to fans that they are serious about building a championship level defense. They can do this by drafting a cornerback with game-changing ability with their top pick, a strategy they haven’t used since selecting Quentin Jammer 5th overall in the 2002 draft. While Jammer never lived up to the hype as the shutdown corner everyone hoped he would be, he provided stable and reliable coverage, solid help in the run game with excellent tackling ability, and athleticism at the cornerback position. His presence made an impact on the game, and usually with a big hit. That is what the Chargers should be looking for again. Simply put, the Chargers need a Playmaker with a capital P at the cornerback position, and should consider moving up in the first round to draft the best CB in the draft, Justin Gilbert. Gilbert is projected to go in the 10-15 range of the first round, so the Chargers would need to make a deal to get him, and Gilbert is the type of athlete that would reward the Chargers for such a decision.