Eric Weddle: Is the player worth the price?

General Manager A.J. Smith raised some eyebrows on draft day by trading away four draft picks – a second, two thirds and a fifth – to move up 25 spots in round two and select Eric Weddle. His logic was understandable, as Weddle was the last of the top-tier safeties. However, given Smith's high success rate with his draft picks, it is reasonable to ask if he gave up too much.

Weddle (5-foot-11, 205 lbs.) is expected to be impact player. He diagnoses plays quickly, is willing to mix it up in run defense, and has a knack for generating turnovers. Also, he has the ability to play either safety position and to cover receivers out of the slot.

Despite his impressive skill set, Weddle will have to raise his game to another level to justify what the Chargers gave up to get him.

Fortunately, the high price of moving was made more palatable because San Diego already has a deep roster, making the extra picks semi-expendable.

"The first two or three years we were here, we were looking for numbers because we needed and we still need depth," Assistant General Manager Buddy Nix said. "But we have three safeties on the roster, and we knew that we needed to get somebody to play either safety and also play man-to-man on the slot."

Weddle's unique versatility made him exactly the player the Chargers were looking for. But one must consider what Smith could have done had he kept all of his draft picks.

In round two, he could have settled for hard-hitting Virginia Tech safety Aaron Rouse. With the third-round pick he traded away, he could have taken Manuel Ramirez, the mauling guard from Texas Tech. And with the extra fifth-round pick, he could have bolstered cornerback depth with Auburn's David Irons.

Under that scenario, the Chargers would still have their third-round pick in 2008, too.

So, can Weddle possibly make enough of an impact to substitute for all of that lost talent? If you ask his agent, David Canter, the answer is an emphatic yes.

"The Chargers stole him," Canter said. "Eric is the most versatile player in the draft and can help them at safety and cornerback, and on special teams, too."

Unfortunately, the predictably biased words of an agent cannot be used to decide if the Weddle is worth the bounty the Chargers gave up in acquiring him. That will be decided by his play on the field.

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