Chargers tab Oliver in supplemental draft

The San Diego Chargers selected Paul Oliver in the supplemental draft, sacrificing a fourth-round pick in 2008 to bring in the highly coveted cornerback. The selection of Oliver bolsters depth in the secondary and provides further evidence that General Manager A.J. Smith believes his team is primed to make a serious Super Bowl run.

Paul Oliver (5 foot 11, 205 pounds) planned to return for his senior season at Georgia before being declared academically ineligible. Had he stayed in school, he could have gone as early as the first round next year, given his combination of hands and ball skills.

Known as a gamer with shutdown capabilities, Oliver typically shadows the opponent's top receiver. In a 2006 match-up with Calvin Johnson, Oliver limited the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to two receptions for 13 yards.

He finished his junior season with 57 tackles and three interceptions. His stock took a bit of a hit during a recent workout in front of scouts in which he appeared out of shape and timed slower than expected. However, it appears the Chargers are confident in what they saw between their private meeting with Oliver and his game films.

Oliver instantly takes over as the team's fourth cornerback, a significant upgrade over former undrafted free agent Steve Gregory. Prior to this acquisition, the team was one injury way from pressing Gregory into a nickel back role he was not ready to assume.

It should not be assumed that the selection of Oliver means Drayton Florence will be allowed to walk after the season, when he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Florence is expected to maintain his starting position over Oliver and Antonio Cromartie, and the team seems amenable to offering Florence an extension at fair market value.

The selection of Oliver will leave the Chargers short on picks in next year's draft. In addition to spending a fourth-rounder on Oliver, the team traded its third-rounder in part of the package to move up for Eric Weddle. However, the Chargers will likely recoup one of those selections via a complementary pick resulting from the loss of Donnie Edwards.

Smith showed terrific foresight by snatching Oliver from the supplemental ranks. If he didn't, he likely would have been forced to spend at least a middle-round pick next year to address a shallow cornerback corps. Now, he gets to add that cornerback a year early; not to mention that a player of Oliver's ilk would have been unlikely to fall to day two.

Oliver becomes the second player on the Chargers' roster to be acquired through the supplemental draft. The other, Jamal Williams, has more than justified the second-round pick the team gave up to get him.

It appears obvious that Smith believes the Chargers are on the cusp of greatness. He decided to keep Michael Turner instead of peddling him for future draft picks; he gave up four picks to move up and select a need player in Weddle; and now he's burned a future selection to fill out this year's roster.

If Oliver can parlay his potential into productivity, it will go a long way towards justifying Smith's optimism.


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