We continue on our series ranking the 25 most important players on the Chargers roster. Next is Tom Telesco's first official player addition to the team, Cornerback Johnny Patrick.
What He’s Done
Patrick is going into his third year after being drafted by the Saints in 2011, one pick higher than the Chargers' selection of Shareece Wright. He played very little in his rookie year. Last year, he played 15 games for the Saints, starting 1, and was on the field for 19% of the team’s total defensive snaps.
He had 21 tackles and 2 passes defended. According to Football Outsiders game charting data, Patrick was targeted 35 times last year, had only a 39% success rate, and allowed 8.4 yards per pass attempt. Both figures are very poor, and his play may have contributed to the Saints cutting him.
Why He’s Here
Teams have been using three-receiver sets with greater frequency in recent years, dramatically increasing the importance of having a good nickel corner. Patrick will be expected to immediately contribute by covering the opposing team’s slot receiver.
Playing in the same division as Peyton Manning and Denver’s solid corps of Wide Receivers, covering the opponent’s slot receiver will prove to be a tough challenge.
While Patrick’s advanced stats were very poor, it may not entirely have been his fault. The Saints defense was atrocious in all aspects last year, and his stats were in line with many of the other Saints secondary players. With proper coaching, it is possible that Patrick could turn it around and become a solid contributor, and at a bargain price for the Chargers.
Why He’s Not Higher
While the nickel back is becoming more important, it still means he's the third best CB on the team. Patrick is far more replaceable than Derek Cox or Shareece Wright. Rookie CB Steve Williams will also be fighting for time on the field and, if Patrick fails to deliver, the team has options for replacing him.