SDBR Q-A: Is Prewitt the Answer at Safety?

The Chargers need help at safety, a need that will only be exacerbated if SS Marcus Gilchrist leaves as a free agent. One possible replacement is Ole Miss product Cody Prewitt, a playmaker who led the Rebels to 17 wins over the last two seasons. publisher Michael Lombardo caught up with Prewitt for this exclusive interview.

Cody Prewitt put himself on San Diego’s radar with a monster junior season in which he recorded six interceptions, seven pass break-ups and two forced fumbles. Those numbers fell off as a senior (three INTs, two PBUs and no FFs), but Prewitt still authored some huge plays, including a 75-yard pick-six against Texas A&M.

He is quick to dismiss the notion that his senior season was any worse than his junior campaign.

"I think one of the best attributes of a leader is to be able to develop other leaders," Prewitt said. "I think I played a big part in that with developing guys like Senquez [Golson], Trae Elston and Tony Conner. I was helping develop those guys as leaders. Once they got to the point where they could lead, then they started making more plays. I’m really proud of those guys. I’m proud of the team and proud of the way we played this past year. For me, I don’t think it was any worse of a season. It was just different."

Prewitt’s performance was strong enough to merit an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he quickly disproved the idea that his stock arrow is pointed downwards. He was among the top performers in Mobile, Ala., showing himself to be a sure tackler and more disruptive than expected near the line of scrimmage.

He seemed comfortable working with the coaching staff of the Jaguars, who are no strangers to developing young players in the secondary. It also helps that Jacksonville head honcho Gus Bradley is a famously aggressive coach, which fits in well with Prewitt’s playing persona.

"Coach [Dave] Wommack, our defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, is a very aggressive guy," Prewitt said. "We were always blitzing, always running to the ball at full speed, always breaking on the ball. [The Jaguars coaches] expected us to do that, too. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me."

That’s exciting for Chargers fans, as one of San Diego’s main objectives is to field a more attacking defense next season. New linebackers coach Mike Nolan recently spoke about getting San Diego’s defenders to play with an offensive mindset and Prewitt certainly fits that mold.

Prewitt will likely hear his name called somewhere between the second and fourth rounds of the NFL Draft. He is doing everything in his power to push towards the high end of that projection, including training at the Madison Healthplex in Mississippi to get into the best shape possible in advance of the NFL Combine.

He is also preparing himself mentally. He speaks regularly with Colts WR Donte Moncrief, who grew up just 15 minutes from Prewitt. That has helped him keep the whole pre-draft process in perspective.

"It’s all about being calm," Prewitt said. "You can’t let the stress get to you. You have to be able to take it one day at a time."

Prewitt added that he does not care whether he plays free safety or strong safety in the NFL. As long as he gets a shot to play on Sundays, he'll consider his dream realized.

"For me, I love to play the game," he said. "I’m willing to make myself work in any position the coaches feel I’d be productive."

The Chargers are unlikely to pick Prewitt in the second round, given the team has more pressing needs on both sides of the line. And you can’t count on stealing him in the fourth round, especially considering GM Tom Telesco has yet to prove he can make it through a draft without trading away his fourth-round pick. But if Prewitt is available when the Chargers pick in the third round (No. 83 overall), it may be a perfect marriage.

Prewitt could replace Gilchrist if he leaves as a free agent. He would also provide insurance behind FS Eric Weddle, 30, who will make $7 million this season in the final year of his contract.

Is Cody Prewitt the answer for the Chargers? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the team. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since '03. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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