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Do the San Diego Chargers have a Cornerback problem?

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Should the San Diego Chargers avoid drafting a Cornerback early in the NFL Draft until they can figure out how to turn talented defensive backs into productive members of the defense? Here's a look back at the team's recent struggles at doing exactly that.

I almost don't want the San Diego Chargers to bother using a high draft pick on a Cornerback in the 2014 NFL Draft, despite the fact that the team really doesn't have anyone that can player at a #1 CB spot on the roster.

Why? Because the team seems cursed when it comes to Cornerbacks. I'll show you what I mean. Here are the PFF rankings of San Diego's starting CBs since 2007:

  • 2013: 73rd (Richard Marshall), 74th (Shareece Wright)
  • 2012: 67th (Quentin Jammer), 68th (Antoine Cason)
  • 2011: 42nd (Cason), 61st (Jammer)
  • 2010: 10th (Cason), 47th (Jammer)
  • 2009: 31st (Antonio Cromartie), 48th (Jammer)
  • 2008: 39th (Jammer), 64th (Cromartie)
  • 2007: 27th (Jammer), 69th (Drayton Florence)

See? Every team's goal is to have at least one of their Cornerbacks ranked amongst the 20 best CBs in the league, and the Chargers have done that exactly once in the last seven seasons. The guy that did it followed it up by being 42nd the next season, 68th the year after that, and then off the team.

If you include Steve Williams last offseason, the Chargers have used a "high round" (first 3 rounds) draft pick on a CB five times since 2006. Five! Those are five guys that you're picking with the hope that they could be solid starters on the outside, and the result of it is just one Top 20 season. (For what it's worth, two of the picks were first-rounders.)

Now, you could argue that this could be due to the team's struggles at finding a long-term solution at Strong Safety. Over that same period, the team has drafted five Safeties (not counting Marcus Gilchrist, who I counted above as a CB). Five! That's a ton.

That means that, in the last eight drafts, the team has spent 10 picks on guys they expected to eventually start in the defensive secondary and contribute (I did not count DeJuan Tribble or Brandon Hughes as part of the 10 because they were never expected to be anything). Out of those 10 picks, the only guys left on the roster are...

  • Eric Weddle
  • Darrell Stuckey
  • Steve Williams
  • Marcus Gilchrist
  • Shareece Wright

That's it. Five guys. Williams, Gilchrist and Wright are only on the roster because they're on their rookie deals, and Stuckey still isn't viewed as much more than depth and special teams help. That's somewhere around a 20% success rate on those picks.

Do you see, yet, why I am nervous? Why I feel that another early-round Cornerback drafted by the Chargers could simply be the next Cason or Gilchrist? If they are, does that make the team any better?

I know, logically, I have to trust the coaching staff. Tom Telesco can't keep from bringing in talent for positions that are poorly coached, but until I see it with my own eyes, I will remain skeptical that the Chargers can turn a first or second-day Cornerback into anything more than an inconsistent, mediocre football player.