Thinking about the Chargers draft so far, one word stands out: fit.
Start with Jason Verrett. He played almost exclusively off-man and zone at TCU — exactly what Pagano will ask him to do most on Sundays. In game action, Verrett didn’t show the backpedal you would like to see in a first round cover corner, so his tape is a little unappealing at first. But Verrett has all of the physical ability you could want in a cover corner: he reacts quickly, changes direction fluidly, and shows an exceptional recovery skills. He also keeps one eye on the quarterback while maintaining position on the receiver. Simply put, he may be the best pure cover corner to come out since Janoris Jenkins a few years ago.
Put on Verrett’s film against LSU. The Tigers had two receivers drafted in the first two rounds this year — and the team didn’t complete a ton of passes against Verrett. Here was the result when they tried:
At the start of the play, Verrett is about seven yards off of Jarvis Landry, a very quick receiver. Landry runs a slant, and Verrett jumps it. When the two come into view, Verrett has made up any separation from Landry and has positioned himself to get a hand on the ball. The rest of the TCU secondary is no slouch, but Zach Mettenberger was awfully reluctant to throw Verrett’s way after that.
A review of Verrett’s combine workout helped resolve my concerns about his form. He showed an impressively smooth backpedal and the quick, fluid hips from his game tape.
Verrett can play some bump-and-run, although he’s not the physical defender that a Tyrann Mathieu is, for example. And of course he may have trouble playing bigger, physical receivers in the Anquan Boldin mold. Luckily, that’s not what Pagano will ask him to do.
Chargers fans are right to be skeptical about the team drafting a 5’9″ cornerback in the first round. Verrett is such an exceptional talent, and incredible fit for Pagano’s defense, that I think fans will grow to love the pick.
In the same vein, second round pick Jeremiah Attaochu is an exceptional talent that will work within a Chargers defense sure to highlight his skill set. More on that in my next post…