Bolts meet with top corner for second time

The San Diego Chargers have met with a potential first-round cornerback who could fall all the way to the Bolts at the bottom of round two. A player with terrific ability and size – a prerequisite for General Manager A.J. Smith – this defender is plagued only by his inability to consistently fulfill his immense potential. Maybe all he needs is to play behind Shawne Merriman.

Marcus McCauley (6-foot, 200 lbs.) may be the most talented cornerback in the draft. He was one of the nation's highest-rated corners heading into the 2006 season but didn't always play like it. During his four years at Fresno State, he totaled 143 tackles, 22 pass break-ups and four interceptions.

An alert and instinctive player, McCauley has all the tools to thrive in man-to-man or zone coverage. He has the speed to run stride for stride with receivers and the quick feet to break in front of them once the ball is in the air.

"I bring physicality at the corner and the ability to run," McCauley said. "I'm a good overall player who plays on special teams, too."

In addition to his private workout with the Chargers, McCauley also interviewed with the team during Senior Bowl week.

McCauley's performance that week was a perfect example of his mercurial nature. Early in the week, he looked slow and indecisive. He was beaten badly on almost every throw.

"I felt kind of sluggish. I was getting back in the swing of things; I hadn't played in like two months," he explained.

Then, it was as if he just flipped a switch and turned his game on. By the middle of the week, he was one of the best defenders on the field, taking smart gambles and making numerous big plays.

It is hard to project where McCauley may go in the draft. He has first-round talent, although the Chargers are unlikely to take him there. His mediocre level of productivity will not persuade San Diego to fill its lesser need at cornerback so early.

However, if his inconsistency and tendency to freelance cause him to fall to the end of round two, San Diego will have a hard time passing on him. The team has little depth behind nickel-back Antonio Cromartie, and McCauley would be a significant upgrade over Steve Gregory.

The Chargers will need some luck for McCauley to stay on the board for so long. But if Marcus McNeill can fall like he did in last year's draft, then anything is possible.

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