Will Chargers Soar with Another Eagle?

The Chargers, yet again, need help at corner. Antoine Cason and Marcus Gilchrist were benched at points last year, while Quentin Jammer will soon move to safety. One option is taking a mid-round flier on Donnie Fletcher; the physical DB from BC helps us explore that idea in this exclusive interview.

Boston College is not known for churning out great defensive backs. The school has only had one DB drafted this millennium, that being DeJuan Tribble, who was picked by the Chargers in the sixth round of the 2008 draft.

San Diego may fly with an Eagle yet again. Four-year starter Donnie Fletcher has many of the traits A.J. Smith looks for in cover men: he's big, has long arms and gets physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage.

"I don't know about it being an advantage," said Fletcher of his size. "At the next level you only have 5 yards where you can put your hands on receivers. All the advantages go to the receivers. But a big corner like me with long arms and long legs, it gives me an opportunity to get a good jam at the line and keep receivers away from my body."


CB Donnie Fletcher
Jim Rogash/Getty
Fletcher showcased his ability to lock up receivers at the line of scrimmage during Senior Bowl week. It's something he did not get to do often at Boston College, as the team plays almost exclusively zone.

The zone defense worked for Fletcher, who recorded 124 tackles, 11 INTs and 21 pass breakups in his college career, but he knows he will have to excel at man coverage, as well, in the NFL.

"The Senior Bowl was an opportunity for scouts to see me perform," he said. "There are things they have not seen me do -- play press-man, play off-man -- because the kind of defense we played. The Senior Bowl is chance to show 32 teams I can make it in the NFL."

Fletcher, who had four tackles in the Senior Bowl game, has already convinced scouts he can play on Sundays. Some scouts, however, still aren't sure where he fits best.

In addition to schematic questions -- some wonder if he can be more than a zone cornerback, given his experience in that defense and his tendency to look into the backfield -- there are also questions about what position fits him best. Because of his lack of elite speed, some scouts feel he would benefit from a move to safety.

That shouldn't scare the Chargers, who have a history of using corner-safety hybrids. Two such players, Steve Gregory and Paul Oliver, are set to become free agents.

Fletcher tries to mold his game after two All Pro cornerbacks who used to torment the Chargers during their time with the rival Raiders.

"I look at guys like Charles Woodson and Nnamdi Asomugha," he said. "Me being a big corner (6 foot 1, 200 lbs.), I like big corners with long arms. Especially press guys. I don't necessarily think my game is like theirs, because obviously there will never be another Charles Woodson, but I think I share some of their characteristics just being a big corner."

Another reason for the Chargers to like Fletcher: His ability and willingness to help on special teams.

San Diego stopped neglecting its coverage teams in last year's draft and it paid big dividends for first-year coach Rich Bisaccia. Acquiring a player like Fletcher, who has the makings of an elite gunner, would be another step in the right direction.

"That's one of the big things I tried to show at the Senior Bowl, that I can play on special teams," Fletcher said. "I am willing to play any special teams, whatever a team needs me to do: kickoffs, punt return, punt, anything. I just want to contribute."

If Smith is willing to take a chance in the fourth or fifth round, Fletcher's opportunity to contribute may come in San Diego.



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Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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