3. Strong Safety
Eric Weddle had a fantastic rookie season and although he was brought on somewhat slowly, he saw plenty of playing time and made plays whenever he was on the field. He showcased excellent versatility playing both safety spots as well as some cornerback. Heading into the 2008 season, its all but guaranteed that Weddle will take the reigns from Marlon McCree and become the team's starting Free Safety. The problem now is finding someone who can start opposite him at Strong Safety.
Clinton Hart is the current starter and although he played solid in 2007, he is clearly not suited for the strong safety role. Hart is a liability in run support and as a strong safety that is one of his most important jobs on the field. The Chargers saw their ability to stop the run decrease somewhat in 2007 compared to the year before. The only significant change in personnel on defense between those two seasons is the replacement of CB Drayton Florence and SS Terrance Kiel as starters in favor of CB Antonio Cromartie and SS Clinton Hart. Even if you accept the fact that Cromartie may never be a stout tackler or helpful in run support, there is no excuse for the starting strong safety to struggle stopping the ball carrier. It is because of this that I feel that the position needs to be addressed in the offseason. Having a safety who can come clean up whatever Cromartie misses is going to be important next season.
The upcoming 2008 NFL Draft does not have the marque safeties that the 2007 class had, but nonetheless there are some players who would be an improvement over the Chargers' current Strong Safeties. Over the coming weeks, I'll be profiling some players who the Chargers might target in the draft, possibly with their first round pick.
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