Chargers Draft 2012: The Bolts Need A Safety

When you think about great Chargers safeties a few names come to mind. First, there's Rodney Harrison. Next, there's...OK, actually only one name comes to mind unless you're old enough to remember some guys from the 60's. The Chargers' draft history with safeties has been largely filled with disappointment, and some could say the selection of Harrison in the 5th round of the 1994 draft and his subsequent success was as much the result of luck as anything else. Considering that the next best safety in Chargers history may be AFLer Kenny Graham, drafted by the Bolts in 1965, the hope this year is that the Chargers can turn the tide on their inability to consistently fill their safety needs through the draft.

With the Chargers needing a starting safety and, considering who's left in the free agent market, with the draft being their best option for finding one, you have to assume AJ Smith & Company will be looking for a safety in the first two or three rounds. Who might the Chargers select? Who should the Chargers select? Read on, then make your pick in the comments section below.

Mark Barron
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 213
Projected Round 1

Strengths: Versatile, strong defending the pass or run; good/physical tackler, good hands, solid in coverage against a variety of offensive players.

Weaknesses: Not many, but there have been murmurs of sloppy play on occasion, and there are some health concerns.

Barron may not be a Pro Bowler, but he projects to be a solid starter for years to come. He is quick enough, physical, and the lack of any real flaws in his game suggests he is more than ready to step into an NFL lineup.

Will he be a Charger? There are two questions when it comes to the Chargers and Barron. First, will he be around at #18 in the first round? Possibly, but if he is available for the Chargers, will the Chargers value a strong upgrade in the secondary over the pass rush help they desperately need from the outside linebacker position?

Harrison Smith
Notre Dame
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 213
Projected Round 1-2

Strengths: Of the top safeties in the 2012 draft, Harrison Smith has earned the label as the “smart” safety, the type of player who would seem to gravitate toward AJ Smith. Harrison Smith was a four-year starter at Notre Dame who earned a reputation for being involved in every play, never taking a down off.

Weaknesses: Seems to play better in the zone than man-to-man; can improve his technique to be a better all-around defender.

Over the next two weeks, don’t be surprised to see Smith work his way into a bottom of the first round projection, although the top of the 2nd seems to be the most likely slot for the consensus second-rated safety in the draft.

Will he be a Charger? While safety is a top need of the Chargers, improving the pass rush may be the most effective way to improve the team defensively. If the Chargers miss or pass on Barron, Smith becomes the obvious target of the Chargers in the 2nd round. Will Smith be available at pick #49? I don’t think so, and I bet AJ feels the same way. Expect to hear a lot of rumors following round-one regarding a move up by the Chargers in the 2nd round to try to grab Smith.

Brandon Taylor
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 209
Projected Round 2-4

Strengths: Physical; Taylor can hit hard and is very effective in defending the run. Solid tackler.

Weaknesses: Unproven against the pass, largely because LSU had better players to match up against opponent’s top receivers. Asking Taylor to play a lot of man coverage early in his career may not be a wise decision.

While Barron and Smith are the consensus top-two safeties in the draft, ranking Taylor is open to debate. I’ve placed him third on my list, but many other draft experts aren’t as high on him.

Will he be a Charger? If AJ can’t make a deal for Harrison Smith, Taylor is not a bad fall-back option. He’s less well-rounded then Barron and Smith, but he would be a big improvement over what the Chargers currently have, and could easily project to follow in the footsteps of one Rodney Harrison- a big hitter who let’s intimidation make up for a lack of coverage skills. It would not surprise me at all to see the Chargers take him "too early" in the 2nd round if Harrison Smith is off the board.

The Chargers need a safety- who will they pick, and where will they pick him?

Follow me on Twitter: @JSWilliams75

April 19, 2012

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Oastone said... Apr 18, 2012, 8:17:00 AM

How about Quentin Jammer at SS and picking a CB in the draft?

Mergemachine said... Apr 18, 2012, 9:25:00 AM

Aj said in an interview that is not even a discussion

Myke said... Apr 19, 2012, 10:31:00 AM

Recently, look at super bowl winning teams and their play making safeties:

Troy Polamalu
Darren Sharper
Antrel Rolle
Adrian Wilson

I think the one team who did it without a big name(but still got big plays out of those who did play) was the Green Bay Packers when they took the title....

Fbhansen said... Apr 19, 2012, 12:56:00 PM

I like a pass rusher off the end which would make the secondary look better but for safety I'd take Mark Barron and team him up with Weddle that could be a pair for years to come. If we do end up going a different direction for our first pick I'd package picks and move up in the second round to make a play for Harrison Smith or see where Taylor might go...good thing for us at safety is paired with Weddle the player picked will have an easier won't have to carry all the weight!

I still remember the days of Rodney Harrison roaming the secondary and teams were afraid to run plays across the middle...would love to see that happen again with the team but who knows!

Pete Spinning said... Apr 19, 2012, 1:18:00 PM

...which is lame-sauce : /

Jeff Williams said... Apr 20, 2012, 7:13:00 AM

That's a good point- you can win without a top-tier safety, but having THAT guy makes it a heck of a lot easier.  It's like safety is underrated position until you realize how big an effect a good one can have on your team.

Fbhansen said... Apr 20, 2012, 4:27:00 PM

Another reason I love AJ...the seemingly sensible things like moving a hard hitting CB who might have lost a step to the safety position is nonsensical to one guy!

Fbhansen said... Apr 21, 2012, 10:27:00 AM

In the North COunty Times today: Asante Samuel on the trade block and Denver is question why not make a move to pick up a proven CB move Jammer to safety and use the pick on a pass rusher from the end or OLB with the first round? Come on AJ surprise us do something that makes sense and shows quick results!

Jeff Williams said... Apr 21, 2012, 4:08:00 PM

Aren't you the same guy who didn't like the idea of moving Jammer to safety? Samuel comes with a pretty big attitude, and not in a good way. Not saying I hate the idea, but there is a reason he's on the block for cheap.

Triplook said... Apr 21, 2012, 6:47:00 PM

can we get a pass rusher in the 2nd or 3rd round if we take barron?

threecubed said... Apr 21, 2012, 10:46:00 PM

Barron won't last to 18 , but it would seem the choice would be made simple enough were he to somehow be there . A more likely dilemma is determining the better course of action between the 2nd S and a situational pass rusher , this is a bad class to be shopping for safeties and pass rushers . The standout pass rushers lack either the college stats or the eye-popping athletic ability and the safeties pool is just shallow so figuring out where one can be had will be tricky . In answer to your question though , yes , Curry - Lewis - Irvin are 2nd and on guys .

Fbhansen said... Apr 22, 2012, 10:19:00 AM

No I'm the one that said it was good to do...look back I've mentioned that several times because he's a soild tackler plays great run support but has lost a step in coverage. Agree, with your Samuel comments but my thoughts are more towards doing something that might help out the seconday but picking a pass rusher instead of saftey and improving the seconary by improving the CB spot.

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