Chargers visit with talent-laden cornerback

The Chargers will be looking to improve cornerback depth on draft day, as the current roster is perilously thin behind the top trio of Quentin Jammer, Drayton Florence and Antonio Cromartie. General Manager A.J. Smith cherishes size at the position and conducted a private visit with a middle-round prospect who boasts a rare size-speed combination and the ability to thrive on an island.

Ed Thompson of Scout.com has confirmed that South Carolina cornerback Fred Bennett (6-foot-1, 195 lbs.) had a visit with the Chargers on Tuesday, April 10th. Bennett's four-year totals include 108 tackles, 24 pass break-ups and nine interceptions.

Bennett is an outstanding athlete with terrific measurables. He has the quick feet and hands to redirect players off the line of scrimmage and the recovery speed to stay with them deep. Additionally, he has stellar awareness and knocks down a lot of passes.

It also helps that he comes from South Carolina, a program that prepared Dunta Robinson, Sheldon Brown and Johnathan Joseph for successful pro careers.

However, Bennett does have some drawbacks. He is a finesse player, lacking the physicality to fight through blocks or come up against the run. Also, he too often loses focus, allowing disciplined receivers to take advantage of him.

A raw player with tremendous upside, coming to San Diego may be the best possible scenario for Bennett. He could begin his career with minimal defensive responsibilities, allowing him time to be groomed by a pro coaching staff.

Once he is coached up, Bennett would provide terrific injury insurance. He would also give the Chargers some options for next offseason, when Florence is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

His presence on special teams would be critical as well, as the coverage units will likely lose Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm as they move into the starting line-up.

Bennett is similar in many ways to Cromartie, whose workout numbers outshined his on-field statistics. Given how A.J. Smith fell for Cromartie in last year's draft, it is reasonable to expect he may do the same with Bennett this time around, especially if he falls to the bottom of round three.

Bennett also met with the New York Giants on April 17th.


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