Lumpkin on Abraham Elimimian: "Technically sound"

The two things that come to mind when speaking of the Chargers cornerback corps are high draft picks and a lack of productivity. The Chargers top four corners include three former first-round selections and a former second-round pick, but decided to take the plunge into undrafted free agency in their search for a viable candidate to take the fifth cornerback spot.

The Chargers would love to find another corner that can push these four underachievers in training camp and possibly earn a spot as the team's fifth cornerback. They may have found that man in Abraham Elimimian, an undrafted corner the team signed from the University of Hawaii. George Lumpkin, the defensive coordinator at Hawaii, believes there is no question that Elimimian is the right man for the job.

"He got a lot of things going for him," Lumpkin said. "He's competitive and technically sound. He just needs to work on playing a little more off coverage."

The reason Elimimian will have to play more off coverage is to disguise his lack of speed, the one glaring weakness in his game. When he first ran the 40-yard dash this offseason he was timed at 4.7 seconds, a time slow enough to suggest he was perhaps training with Maurice Clarett.

He later improved his time to a more acceptable 4.5 seconds, but the damage to his draft stock had already been done, precipitating his fall to the undrafted ranks. While he is by no means a blazer, he is not as slow as his original time may have suggested. In fact, Lumpkin has no doubt that his former player has enough speed to succeed on the next level.

"He was always fast enough," recalled Lumpkin. "Like they say, he played as fast as you needed him to play."

The numbers certainly support that claim. Elimimian moved into the starting line-up during the middle of his freshman season, and ended his four-year career at Hawaii with 244 tackles, 12 interceptions, two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He also added 10.5 tackles for a loss and an incredible 42 pass deflections for good measure.

Having made such an impact at the collegiate level, Elimimian hopes to carry those same high levels of productivity with him to San Diego. The Chargers had three former first-round selections play cornerback for them last season, and not one of them intercepted more than one measly pass. If nothing else, Elimimian's stellar ball skills would be a welcome addition to the defensive rotation.

"I think he has good ball skills," Lumpkin said. "Sometimes he'll get caught when he takes a peak, but for the most part he just has a knack for when to look back and when the quarterback is going to throw it. It seemed like he was always in the right place at the right time. He made a lot of plays for us while he was here, and he has great instincts for where the ball is going to go."

Keeping in mind the Chargers secondary-based deficiencies from a year ago, Elimimian's ability to excel in coverage alone should provide him with a legitimate shot at making the roster. But even if he does make the team, he knows it will likely be as the team's fifth cornerback, and that he will need to make an impact on special teams before he is allowed to do so anywhere else. That, however, shouldn't be a problem for him.

"He can make it anywhere," boasted Lumpkin. "He'll get in there and do well. He'd never think he was too good to play special teams or anything like that. He's a hardworking individual with good character. He'll do whatever it takes to make the team. If that means playing special teams or working as the fourth of fifth corner, then he'll do that and keep working until he becomes a starter."

Maybe Lumpkin is right, and Elimimian will beat the odds and end up someday earning a starting spot in San Diego. Then again, maybe he will get cut and no one will remember his name by this time next year.

But if he succeeds, the team will not be ranked 31st in pass defense for very long. And if he fails, at least the Chargers didn't have to burn a first-round pick to get him.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@SanDiegoSports.net


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