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NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
The San Diego Chargers had many needs. The hope is they filled one of them with their first-round pick.
Texas Christian cornerback Jason Verrett was the Chargers' top selection in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday, as they got busy shoring up a shoddy pass defense.
"The things we wanted to add to this team were speed and playmakers and to the help the defense," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "We think Jason is going to fit that to a 'T.'"
"He's a cover corner that is quick, fast and tough, which are qualities we look for. And he is very, very instinctive on the football field."
What Verrett isn't is big. He stands at under 5-foot-10, but that wasn't a problem when he was named All-Big 12 and the conference's co-defensive player of the year.
"Size doesn't matter to him," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "He is a physical football player and is very good in coverage."
Verrett said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he was the best cornerback in the draft.
Verrett, though, was the fourth cornerback selected. Still, the Chargers, who were at the bottom of every significant pass defense category last year, were thrilled to get him at No. 25 overall.
"When we scouted him he check off all the boxes of what he could do and what we were looking for," Telesco said.
Verrett, who got his first collegiate interception at Qualcomm Stadium when playing against San Diego State during his sophomore year, started all 11 games last year. He finished with 39 tackles, two interceptions, 14 passes defensed and a sack.
Many of those games were against taller receivers. But Telesco was adamant that Verrett measured out well against lanky pass-catchers.
"He has played in a big-time conference against a lot of really good receivers and quarterbacks and it was never an issue," Telesco said. "It's the way he plays: his leverage, his vertical jump. It really hasn't been an issue with bigger receivers."
Verrett has heard the detractors before. But it's his approach, he said, that allows him to compensate.
"It's just moving my feet and playing a lot smarter," the 178-pound Verrett said. "I played a lot of guys that were 6-2, 6-3 and I didn't really try to get my hands on them too much. But then when the ball was in the air, that was when I tried to get competitive."
The speculation is that Verrett is better suited to defend inside receivers. But he said that's not necessarily the case.
"I feel like I showed the versatility at the college level that I can play on slot or on the outside," Verrett said. "I just want to carry that over to the next level."
McCoy wouldn't pin down where Verrett will play, saying that would be determined in training camp. And the Chargers are optimistic Verrett will be ready, after undergoing an offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum.
The Chargers could have been torn as well in deciding whether to draft a cornerback, nose tackle or receiver. But Verrett has been on the radar since the combine, and they weren't going to trade down -- it was an option -- with him on the board.
"With his toughness and the way he flies around -- maybe it's his hair and style -- but he looks like (ex-NFL safety) Bob Sanders," Telesco said. "That stuff is contagious."
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
--For the second straight draft, general manager Tom Telesco peddled a fourth-round pick to improve his standing in the second round. And once again it was for a linebacker. Last year it was for an inside linebacker in Manti Te'o and this year it was for an outside one in Jerry Attaochu.
"He's a player we had targeted for a long time and actually targeted much higher," Telesco said of the Georgia Tech star. "We just felt we had to go get him. He brings a lot of energy to our defense."
Attaochu also brings a strong knowledge of the scheme the Chargers employ. He played in a 3-4 alignment, like the Chargers use, for the Yellow Jackets.
--In another similarity to last year's draft, Telesco went to Notre Dame to get a player. Last year it was Te'o and he selected his former teammate, guard Chris Watt, in the third round. The Chargers can use the depth, although they did re-sign interior linemen Chad Rinehart this offseason and has decided, so far, to keep starting right guard Jeromey Clary. The team also has Rich Ohrnberger as a reliable backup.
--Some Chargers observers were surprised the team didn't address the need at nose tackle until the fifth round. And when it did, it went with Ryan Carrethers of Arkansas State. But Telesco said the key was Carrethers graded well when playing top-notch competition.
"He really played well against the bigger schools," Telesco said.
--We'll see if wide receiver Tevin Reese is more than a one-trick pony as the Baylor product tries to make the team in training camp. But if nothing else, the seventh-round pick has the coolest nickname of the latest Chargers: "Sweet Feet."
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Chargers' picks:
Round 1/25 -- Jason Verrett, CB, 5-9, 189, Texas Christian
--We get it -- he's short. But Verrett compensates for not reaching the 5-10 mark with fantastic leaping ability, fluid hips and a knack for competing when the ball is in the air. He might be more suited to play inside, but he'll get a chance there, and on the outside, during camp. The Chargers are desperate for help in the secondary and it appears Verrett can help right away.
Round 1/50 -- Jerry Attaochu, OLB, 6-3, 252, Georgia Tech
--The Chargers surrendered a fourth-round pick to move up seven slots to secure Attaochu. He exited Georgia Tech as its all-time leader with 31.5 sacks and will be asked to find the quarterback for the Chargers.
Round 3/89 -- Chris Watt, G, 6-3, 310, Notre Dame
--Looking for depth, the Chargers got it here with this three-year starter for the Fighting Irish. What's impressive is his size for that position and his ability to clear running lanes. Notre Dame ran for 200 yards in seven games last season, and Watt was among the reasons why.
Round 5/165 -- Ryan Carrethers, NT, 6-1, 337, Arkansas State
--Eager to get an anchor in the middle, the Chargers took a flier with Carrethers. He's an All Sun-Belt performer and delivers the girth and strength that the Chargers seek; he lifted 225 pounds 32 times at the combine. He has a wrestling background and is keen on obtaining the proper leverage.
Round 6/201 --Marion Grice, RB, 6-0, 208, Arizona State
--Not a back with elite speed, but one that is patient in waiting for his blocks and can hit the hole with quickness. Seems to be a good option on third downs as he has soft hands and is adequate in pass blocking. The end of his season last year was derailed by a leg injury, but according to the Chargers, he's good to go.
Round 7/240 -- Tevin Reese, WR, 5-10, 163 Baylor
--Like speed? Then you'll like Reese. He's not going to dazzle anyone with his solid hands or nifty routes, but what he can do is run, and run fast. Consider that of his 25 touchdown catches at Baylor, 22 of them went for at least 40 yards. A burner, something the Chargers lack.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--ILB Bront Bird (not tendered as ERFA) had 25 tackles in 16 games, which included two starts.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--WR Danario Alexander is a prime target but the trouble is he is too often on a doctor's operating table. Alexander was a find in 2012, but missed last year with another knee injury. In all, he's had seven operations on his knees and there's no guarantee he will be able to go next season.
--RB Ronnie Brown is on the wrong side of 30 which means the Chargers will try to get younger and cheaper at this position. But he'll always have his long touchdown run in the playoff win over the Bengals to be remembered by. His departure seemed assured after Donald Brown was signed.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--WR Seyi Ajirotitu: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Donald Butler: Potential UFA; $51.8M/7 yrs, $11.15M SB/$12M OB 2017.
--CB Richard Marshall: UFA; $855,000/1 yr.
--G Rich Ohrnberger: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G/T Chad Rinehart: Potential UFA; $6M/2 yrs.
--S Darrell Stuckey: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--ILB Reggie Walker: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Kellen Clemens: UFA Rams; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--ILB Kavell Conner: UFA Colts; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Brandon Ghee: UFA Bengals; $1.65M/2 yrs.
--TE David Johnson: UFA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Derek Cox (released).
--WR Lavelle Hawkins: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--FB Le'Ron McClain (released).
--CB Johnny Patrick (released).
--G/C Steve Schilling: Not tendered as ERFA/Seahawks; terms unknown.
--DT Cam Thomas: UFA Steelers; $4M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
--QB Charlie Whitehurst: UFA Titans; $4.25M/2 yrs, $1M SB/$2M guaranteed.