Moving the NFL Draft back to May gives front offices and coaches a full month to sit back and asses the current state of their rosters. This should allow teams to get a better handle on what needs they have and what other positions need more depth. Last month I suggested needs are better filled before the draft as to give teams free reign to pick the best player available instead of focusing on a certain position. At this point in free agency, not a lot of money is going to be needed to sign any player. Filling need positions at this stage doesn’t mean players brought in have to be big contributors, but it’s better to have a contingency plan already in place in case the draft board doesn’t fall as the team would expect, since it usually doesn’t. Just because holes are filled before the draft doesn’t mean those positions can’t then be improved upon during it. The San Diego Chargers don’t have a lot of cap room remaining, around $7 million, but at bargain prices, that should be plenty to bring one or two players in and leave enough space remaining for the draft. The overall depth chart for the Chargers has a lot of high upside positions, but there are spots that can be improved, mostly cornerback and defensive tackle. So then who’s realistically left on the market capable of helping San Diego in 2014?
Cornerback Terrell Thomas
At a point in his career, Thomas was becoming one of the better cornerbacks in the league. He was blossoming during the 2009 and 2010 season before multiple knee injuries caused him to miss both 2011 and 2012. Thomas came back in 2013 playing both outside and the slot for the Giants, with even some snaps at safety when New York played in a three-deep look. By the end of the season Thomas wasn’t exactly his old self, but he was at least 80 percent. That’s enough to immediately be one of the better corners on the Chargers roster. Some teams could be scared off by the knee injuries, but he appeared in all 16 games last season. He could be a low-risk/high-reward signing becoming useful on the roster regardless of whether a corner in brought in through the draft or not.
Cornerback Josh Wilson
Wilson had a down year in 2013, but was the most productive cornerback in Washington during the 2012 season. Wilson was overshadowed by the outspoken DeAngelo Hall across from him, but routinely outplayed Hall, minus Hall’s ability to turn aggressively gambled interceptions into touchdowns last season. Wilson will only be 29-years-old in 2014 and will likely come cheap with the diminishing cornerback market. An underrated attribute for Wilson is his ability to force fumbles, five in the last two seasons, which can be just as useful as interceptions for a cornerback and often a more repeatable skill.