Will the Chargers Tab Another CB?
CB Quentin Jammer (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty)
CB Quentin Jammer (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty)

Posted Mar 21, 2008


Do the Chargers need help at cornerback? It's among the offseason questions the front office is considering as it prepares for next month's draft.

That question seems odd on the surface.

The Chargers have an emerging star in Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie, who led the NFL with 10 interceptions last year.

Opposite Cromartie is Quentin Jammer, who many feel is coming off his best season as a pro. While he has long struggled to live up to his billing as the fifth overall selection in the 2002 draft, Jammer is true in coverages and dynamite in run support.

While those starting positions are set, what is behind Cromartie and Jammer? And is it enough to allow the Chargers to make another Super Bowl run in the pass-happy AFC?

The void comes, in part, because of the loss of one-time starter Drayton Florence. Before losing his job to Cromartie last year, Florence was seen as nearly an equal to Jammer, although Florence always did battle consistency problems.

But that's Jacksonville's worry now with Florence fleeing the Chargers as a free agent.

The key is after Cromartie pushed Florence aside, he was an able and talented nickel back. He often played the slot receiver, which leaned on Florence's considerable coverage skills and ability to hit a slot receiver going over the middle.

Now who fills that role left vacate by Florence's exit? Is it Paul Oliver?

Oliver is a product of the supplemental draft of last year, when the Chargers plucked him from the fourth round. So it would make sense Oliver, in his second year out of Georgia, would be ready to assume Florence's old job.

But with the logjam at cornerback last season -- and the critical games the Chargers were seemingly always playing in which allowed little experimenting -- no one got a good feel for Oliver.

He looked OK in practice, but the Chargers were never able to judge him in a game situation. His next game appearance will be his first while not taking a snap last year when it counted.

The Chargers have other candidates, with Cletis Gordon the frontrunner after he got his feet wet on a few occasions last season. There is also Steve Gregory, who was recently brought back as an exclusive rights free agent. But he saw most his work last year on special teams.

But will any of those three be good enough to solidify a pass defense which has made strides -- thanks in part to a great pass rush -- in recent seasons?

That's hard to say. But the Chargers will likely tip their hand on how they view it when the draft rolls around. If the Chargers reach for another cornerback, you will know the answer.



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CB Cletis Gordon (profile)
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