With Eric Weddle leaving for the Baltimore Ravens, it was apparent the San Diego Chargers were going to have to address the hole at safety.
So they did. Sort of. Possibly.
After signing former Colts safety Dwight Lowery early in March, it wasn’t until the draft that the front office addressed the last line of the defense once more.
Technically, it was actually after the draft ended when San Diego acquired the only true safety during the most popular weekend of the NFL offseason.
Undrafted free agent safety Adrian McDonald agreed to terms with the Chargers on April 30 and will look to become a permanent part of the San Diego secondary.
Weight: 205 lbs*
40 Yard Dash: 4.62**
Bench Press (225 lbs): 10 reps**
*According to Chargers’ website
**Texans local prospect day
McDonald tallied 17 career interceptions, forced seven fumbles and recovered seven more. He ranked 2nd on his team in tackles during his junior campaign with 92, along with four interceptions for the University of Houston. His numbers did not go unnoticed as he was named first-team All-AAC, as well as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe awarded given to the best defensive back in college football.
There is no denying McDonald has a nose for the football as he consistently finds himself near, sometimes with, the ball. He is a solid tackler which not only is a defensive requirement but a special teams one, as well.
Showing value on special teams is most assuredly McDonald’s key to making the 53-man roster. His lack of ideal size and speed is what kept him from hearing his name during the draft, but he can make 31 other teams regret that decision by working hard to get an opportunity to showcase his talents.
With the Chargers ranking 19th in takeaways last season with just 20, players like McDonald are going to get a chance to bring such production to the Bolts’ secondary.
Here’s to hoping this marriage is long-lasting and beneficial to both sides.
Take a look for yourself at Charger hopeful, Adrian McDonald:
In the wake of NFL Draft week, fans are laboriously absorbing all the information on their team’s new selections as possible. For San Diego Chargers fans, the outlook is bright when looking at the team’s selections from top to bottom.
On paper, San Diego selected the top pass rusher (Joey Bosa), tight end (Hunter Henry) and punter (Drew Kaser) in the draft. They added an immediate upgrade at the decrepit center position (Max Tuerk) and gave Melvin Gordon company and instant chemistry in the backfield in the form of Derek Watt, the same fullback who blocked for Gordon during his record-breaking seasons at Wisconsin. There is very little not to love about this draft.
However, one name has flown almost completely under-the-radar in the storm of NFL Draft fever. Canadian Football League standout Dexter McCoil could be the future of the safety position. Versatile, the 6’4′, 220-pound phenom notched 76 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and one fumble recovery as a hybrid inside linebacker/safety on the way to leading the Edmonton Eskimos to the 2015 Grey Cup Championship. In 2014, McCoil was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie. His season was highlighted by his six interceptions, of which three were returned for touchdowns. The team signed him to a futures contract in January.
The Chargers drafted a defensive end and two linebackers to an already loaded linebacker corps. McCoil may rotate in as a linebacker on sub-packages; however, his true worth is elsewhere. The void is in the secondary, particularly in the free safety spot vacated by Eric Weddle. The Chargers signed veteran Dwight Lowery to fortify the position in free agency, and brought in Houston safety Adrian McDonald to vie for the position as an undrafted free agent.
If he plays in America as well as he played in Canada, this will be McCoils’ job to lose. Lowery may bring nine years of veteran experience, but McCoil, 24, brings youth, a vast upside and ball skills any team would feel lucky to have at the cornerback position, much less at safety. This will be a heated position battle as minicamps and OTAs start over the next few weeks. Whomever wins, we all win.
The Greg One
As soon as they hung up the phone after the seventh round selection in the NFL Draft the San Diego Chargers busily started making calls to sign their undrafted free agent class. Twenty players have been signed to compete for roster spots. Here is the full list.
Mike Berkovici QB, Arizona State
Terrell Chestnut CB, West Virginia
Kenneth Farrow RB, Houston
Tyler Johnstone OT, Oregon
Sebastian Johansson G, Marshall
Jamaal Jones WR, Montana
Chris Landrum OLB, Jacksonville State
Mike McQueen G, Ohio
Adrian McDonald S, Houston
Tyler Marcordes OLB, Georgia Tech
Spencer Pulley C, Vanderbilt
Shaq Pettway LB, West Virginia
Zeth Ramsay OT, Colorado Mesa
Deandre Reaves WR, Marshall
Jay Rome TE, Georgia
Larry Scott CB, Oregon State
Chris Swain RB, Navy
Dominique Williams WR, Washington State
Trevor Williams CB, Penn State
Carlos Wray DE, Duke
Unless you’re a college football aficionado most of these names are unfamiliar but there are a handful of names here to keep an eye on. Living in Phoenix, I have seen Mike Berkovici in person and he is a great story of hard work and perseverance. Instead of transferring schools when ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly was getting all the on-field time, Berkovici stayed true to his team and supported Kelly. After finally getting his starting opportunity when Kelly was injured at the beginning of the 2014 season, Berkovici led the Sun Devils to a 5-1 record including hanging a 510-yard, 5-touchdown game on USC on the road. Check out the clip below of the 2016 Cactus Bowl shootout against West Virginia.
Berkovici had a breakout season in 2015 where he took over the reins for the departed Kelly. Last season he went 318-531 for 3,855 yards, 30 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also ran for 347 yards and 6 touchdowns. Berkovici had three games last season where he threw for 395 yards or more. In each he had at least four touchdowns. I was in attendance when ASU hosted the Oregon Ducks in what turned into a 61-55 3-overtime shootout. Berkovici went 32-53 for 398 yards and 5 touchdowns in a controversial loss.
Calling my shot here. Berkovici will make the team.
Another diamond in the rough could be Adrian McDonald out of Houston. Semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe award (given to the top defensive back), McDonald (5″11′, 205 lbs.) is a playmaker and legitimate ball hawk, swiping 17 interceptions over his career at Houston.
San Diego is determined to make sure the center position is solidified this season not only with the selection of Max Tuerk in the third round but by adding Pulley in the undrafted free agent class. With his great size (6″4′, 300 lbs.) and obvious mastery of his technique (35 pancake blocks in 2015), this will be a position battle to watch this offseason.
The future is looking a lot brighter than it did a week ago.
What do you think Boltfam? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One