Breaking Down the Bolts: Defensive Backs

CB Antonio Cromartie (Donald Miralle/Getty)

With Drayton Florence now absent from the roster, the Bolts used the draft to shore up any gaps. As two of the Bolts' five draft picks point directly to their secondary, San Diego used the opportune time to restock and underpin the roster. While appearing well-equipped in the secondary, the Chargers' first draft pick could raise worried eyebrows amongst the starters.

Projected Starters

At the moment, it's no guessing matter which two cornerbacks will start on the field in the Bolts' opening preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer held down the post last year and their presence on the field should find them in the same position in the upcoming season.

Cromartie marked a reputable season that is hard to overlook. He led the NFL last season with 10 interceptions, becoming the first Charger to reach that feat.

With superior athleticism, Cromartie was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated and All-NFL by Pro Football Weekly. Among other honors, he was also named the Chargers Defensive Player of the Year and selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad.

Jammer is more of a quiet leader in the secondary and is considered one of the NFL's top shutdown cornerbacks. He is repeatedly matched up against the "Randy Mosses" of the world and consistently displays cohesive coverage that never disappoints.

SS Clinton Hart intends to man the post again this year after marking an accomplished season last year. His career-high five interceptions placed him second on the team and also tied him for ninth in the NFL. Hart's nine tackles ranked third in defense.

Although Eric Weddle's name failed to appear in the starting mix last season, he still got plenty of playing time during his rookie season. From the get-go, he chimed in as the team's dime back and provided solid coverage down field. He has a reliable and fighting presence that has rightfully escorted him straight to the starting role this season.

Cromartie and Jammer demonstrate a dynamite combo and solid work ethic that will help pave the road for a Bolt appearance in the Super Bowl, but this achievement can hardly be sought without the full, polished secondary that Hart and Weddle will cart.

Hot Competition


CB Antoine Cason
San Diego Chargers

The loss of Drayton Florence led the Bolts to grab former Wildcat Antoine Cason, marking a wise first draft selection. With his adhesive coverage, Cason tied for second in the Pac 10 with five interceptions and registered 14 deflections his senior year.

Cason displayed a vertical jump of 35.5" at the Combine, proving his capability to snag a jump ball and fight for a soaring pass against his opponent. He has a readiness to interfere and hassle a receiver, a talent that will further blossom at the next level.

Cason stands behind the starters, augmenting the roster's depth and providing injury protection. If he continues to display such noteworthy body control and field instincts, he will make Jammer work to keep his starting post.

While the Bolts look to Jammer as the ‘it' man against the top receivers due to his stellar man-to-man treatment, Cason could not only meet this talent but up the ante by utilizing his fondness of finding the ball.

The Back Seat

The Bolts fourth draft selection went to former Golden Eagle CB DeJaun Tribble. While coming off of a sprained MCL, plus his 5-foot-9 stature, Tribble already has two negatives marked against him. Most likely, Tribble will warm the bench waiting for the unpredictable injury to strike a higher rank. Nevertheless, he will certainly cause heat on the practice field.

Along his side, expect Cletis Gordon. After two seasons with the Bolts, Gordon hasn't shined to his full potential. He did see significant playing time in two games last season but his role is not unlike Tribble's -- injury protection and injecting competition during the off-the-clock hours.

After spending his entire rookie season glued to the inactive list, it is no surprise that SS Paul Oliver stands behind Hart. Praised by the Bolts coaching staff for his work ethic on the practice field, Oliver is hoping for a little less talk and a lot more action in the upcoming season. He will be the top backup safety and will cover receivers out of the slot in obvious passing situations.

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