What is there to like about the pick of CB Jason Verrett?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers spent their first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on Jason Verrett. Why should Chargers fans be happy?

Let me get the negatives out of the way first, so that I can address them before moving on to the positives. Brand new San Diego Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is shorter than average at 5'9" (not 5'8", people that keep claiming that). He has shorter than ideal arms. Despite good numbers on the bench press, he appeared to lack strength on the field. He has some bad habits in zone coverage.

Okay, let's take those one at a time. Jason Verrett is not so short that he can't play on the outside. Blog-favorite Brent Grimes is the same height and was actually lighter when he entered the NFL. Grimes isn't the only example and a handful of outliers don't prove anything definitively about Verrett, but they do show that there's precedent for a player his size to succeed.

The lack of length is probably a bigger issue than the height and is exposed on the same plays as his lack of strength. Luckily for Verrett, he won't be asked to line up on the line of scrimmage in press coverage hardly ever under John Pagano. Playing off in zone or off man will play to his strengths and as importantly away from his weaknesses.

That brings us to Verrett's "bad habits" in zone coverage. He's a player that somewhat regularly got caught "peeking" in the backfield. This is something that will hopefully be coached out of him, or even that he'll simply grow out of as he's exposed to actual NFL competition.

So, what is there to like? A lot. Verrett is an excellent athlete (for his height or any other). His 10 yard split in the 40-yard dash was the best at this year's combine and that explosiveness showed up on tape. His top end speed is nothing to sneeze at either as he was fifth fastest in the 40 overall.

Verrett will tell you he has the best feet of any corner in the draft, and while it's hard to say that definitively, he's certainly in the conversation. His size probably benefits him here as he's able to change direction exceptionally well.

The former Horned Frog isn't a great tackler, but he is a good and willing one, and that's all you really need from a cornerback. He has good but not great ball skills, which combined with his excellent closing speed (and solid route recognition) could and should result in takeaways in Pagano's defense (which is theoretically designed to put players in position to do so).

Some have claimed Jason Verrett is the best corner in this year's draft. This seems unlikely, but it is possible he was the best suited to step in on day one and start in the Chargers' defensive scheme. Remember that there is no perfect draft prospect (or player for that matter) and we can have a reasonable, rational discussion of Verrett's imperfections as well as his strengths (which, I think we can all agree outnumber his weaknesses).

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