Approval Rating: Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle was drafted in the 2nd round (37th overall) by the San Diego Chargers in the 2007 NFL Draft. The Chargers traded away their 2nd–round (62nd overall) and 3rd–round (93rd overall) picks, and a future 3rd–round pick, to the Chicago Bears in order to move up to that spot to take him. The Chargers were willing to make such a trade because they knew they'd soon need safety help with Terrence Kiel having been let go, Marlon McCree getting older, and the lack of star potential in Clinton Hart. Weddle had played Safety (and Cornerback) at Utah, where he played against San Diego State once a year. He also grew up in Southern California so he was a familiar name to many Chargers fans.

In his rookie year he filled in as the nickel cornerback as Hart stepped in to the safety spot vacated by Kiel, and McCree played out his final year with the Chargers. In many people's estimations, Weddle was the best nickelback the Chargers have had in recent years. In 2008, his second year, he moved to safety, displacing McCree, and has remained the starter at that position ever since. Thanks mostly to a lack of competition, but also because of his own achievements, he can easily be considered the best safety the Chargers have had over the last 3 years. Probably the most positive thing people say about Weddle is that the guy makes a lot of tackles. This is true, as he has finished 1st, 2nd and 2nd on the team in the tackles in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The detractors would point to a few things in their criticisms of Weddle. The first is that he's not an elite safety in the NFL. When stacked up against the Ed Reeds, Troy Polamalus, Nick Collins, and others of the ilk, he doesn't strike anyone as nearly the playmaker or the athlete. That's probably fair.

Chargers fans also find fault in his tackling, or rather how he misses tackles. Some think he is a poor tackler because they catch him missing tackles. Others might say that he simply has so many opportunities, and since he isn't the size of a linebacker (i.e. the players that are supposed to be in the position to make the most tackles), he's bound to miss some eventually, but the fact that he still makes so many tackles does hold merit. Suffice it to say, he's not a great tackler, but it might be unfair to call him poor. And it may even be overlooking one of the key reasons the Chargers haven't given up many big runs over the past few seasons.

Early in his career there were also concerns about his coverage abilities. I can remember debates from 2008 on a number of plays about if the coverage breakdown was Weddle's fault, or Cromartie's or Hart's. Nowadays it seems like those conversations are a thing of the past. Either Weddle is better, he's the same as he's always been and Cason and Oliver and Gregory help him more than his previous teammates, or there is something scheme-wise that keeps Weddle more protected from this. In any case, it's worth noting.

Anyway, Weddle is going to at least be a restricted free agent, if not a full fledged unrestricted free agent, once the CBA gets hammered out. So, it's about time to take a stand on what you think of him as a Charger before he's gone, or gets a fat deal. Click to pick.

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