SDBR Q-A: Will Ex-Utes Reunite in San Diego?

Three-fourths of San Diego’s starting secondary is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. GM Tom Telesco will try to re-sign some of his own, but he will likely reinforce the position during the NFL Draft. One intriguing possibility is Eric Rowe; in this exclusive interview, we talk to Rowe about the chance of coming to San Diego and reuniting with fellow Utah alumni Eric Weddle.

Eric Rowe is a man in demand at this week’s NFL Combine. Some teams see him as a cornerback (the position he played in 2014) while others view him as a safety (where he played before making the switch prior to his senior year). But regardless of position, everyone agrees he belongs in an NFL secondary.

Rowe (6’0, 204 lbs.) made the switch to cornerback last season to replace Keith McGill, who was a fourth-round pick of the Raiders in 2014. He responded with the best season of his career, finishing the year tied for 12th in the nation with 13 pass break-ups to go along with an interception and 59 tackles.

The Chargers could potentially tab Rowe to replace another corner-safety hybrid, Marcus Gilchist, a free agent who spent last season serving as the starting strong safety and nickel back. That move would reunite Rowe with fellow Utah alumni Eric Weddle.

“I talked to [Weddle] a few times when he came over to Utah,” Rowe said. “He is very sound with his techniques. He maybe doesn’t have the best athleticism, but he’s very smart and knows offensive schemes in and out, route combinations and things like that. He would come up to Utah and talk to us sometimes and I could see how smart he is by the way he talks.”

Rowe didn’t hesitate when asked if he would like to reunite with Weddle in San Diego.

“Oh, yeah!” he said. “A Utah alumni, he would probably take me under his wing.”

Rowe would add a much needed physical presence to San Diego’s secondary. He has good size and outstanding tackling skills. He can disrupt wide receivers and tight ends off the line of scrimmage and jam receivers running shallow crossing routes.

Although he spent most of his career at safety, he feels extremely comfortable in man coverage.

“I’m more experienced in press coverage because at Utah we were in man [coverage] about 90 percent of the time,” he said. “I’m a lot more comfortable there. I probably need to work on some off coverages because we rarely did that at Utah. That’s one thing I need to work on.”

Much of Rowe’s offseason training comes to a head this week at the NFL Combine. He has been working out at EXOS in Pensacola, Fla., to prepare for this week. He did a lot of technique training to prepare for the 40-yard dash, the three-cone drill and other critical tests. He has also spent a lot of time in the weight room to ensure he is in peak physical condition for this weeklong job interview.

Also training at EXOS is Todd Gurley, who is a strong possibility for the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.

Said Rowe: “I don’t get too excited to meet anybody, but it’s cool to meet players they talk about on ESPN. Like at EXOS I’m pretty cool with Todd Gurley now and [ESPN] would talk about him all the time when he was at Georgia. He’s just a really cool dude.”

Rowe has already arrived in Indianapolis and has begun the process of interviewing with NFL teams. He will not take the field for positional drills until Saturday; if he does as well there as he did at the Senior Bowl in January, he has a chance to hear his name called early on the second day of the NFL Draft.

Rowe cashed in on the opportunities provided by the Senior Bowl as much as any player in attendance.

“I’m glad I got to experience it, because I know not everybody does,” he said. “I just took it all in. And playing with other great players from around the country just pushes your game up.”

Part of the reason Rowe performed so well in Mobile, Ala., is because the game never got too big for him. He played on the North Team, led by former Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and the Tennessee Titans coaching staff. Rowe said the coaching was not much different from that he received at Utah, except for the differences in schemes and terminologies.

Rowe feels he is ready to make a similarly seamless transition to the NFL. Whether that transition takes place in San Diego or somewhere else will be determined in the coming weeks, or possibly, inside an interview room at Lucas Oil Stadium in the coming hours.

Is Rowe the right man for the Bolts? Join the discussion inside our 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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