There’s a misleading sentiment around the idea of building through the draft. The idea is the best roster management comes from attaining the best players in the draft instead of signing players through free agency. While the draft remains the most efficient way to bring in skilled players on valued contracts — even in his second year Keenan Allen won’t nearly be paid what he’s worth — but there’s a danger in going into the draft with a glaring need and that’s what the San Diego Chargers are currently doing at cornerback.
Tom Telesco is probably aware, but his starting tandem at cornerback right now is Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall. Wright is still young, just 26 years old, and started improving as the season went on last year and should continue that improvement into the 2014 season. Marshall came over to San Diego early last season after being cut from the Miami Dolphins — a telling sign to start since Jeff Ireland never met a mediocre player he didn’t immediately want to sign for five years. But even with some improvement, these are still two pieces of a secondary that ranked 31st against the pass per Football Outsiders; DVOA.
San Diego used addition by subtraction to improve at cornerback this offseason, releasing Derek Cox just one year after he signed a four-year/$20 million contract with the team. Considering Cox was only able to sign a one-year/$730,000 contract with the Minnesota Vikings after being released, cutting ties was the right move. The Chargers did little else to improve at cornerback, though.
With just under $4 million of cap space remaining per Spotrac, there’s not too many moves Telesco can make. The Chargers clearly weren’t in the financial shape to bring in one of the top cornerbacks on the market, but they didn’t need to bring in a top tier player. The strange silver lining of having a glaring weakness at any position is upgrading becomes relatively simple. It’s much easier to improve from bad to average than it is from average to good. There’s plenty of league average players who become free agents every year. Rarely are there exceptional players who can shift the effectiveness of a unit on his own. The Chargers, luckily, kind of, only need to get to average to improve.