Chargers Draft Primer: Cornerbacks

Chargers expert Michael Lombardo continues a three-part series analyzing the top prospects San Diego is looking at with its first-round pick. One spot expected to garner heavy attention is cornerback, as A.J. Smith looks to replace Drayton Florence. Are the Bolts preparing to spend a first-round pick on a corner for the third time in six years?

The cornerback the Chargers would love to get their hands on is South Florida standout Mike Jenkins (5'11", 200 pounds). San Diego first revealed its interest in Jenkins by attending South Florida's Pro Day on March 7. Jenkins is an incredible athlete who ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He capped off an impressive career with a stellar senior year, tallying 41 tackles and three picks.

The Chargers are intrigued by Jenkins' physicality. As a former safety, he is unafraid to press receivers at the line or step up against the run. He has the fluid hips to play man coverage and the awareness to thrive in a zone. If Jenkins falls to No. 27, the Bolts will likely pounce on him.

CB Brandon Flowers
Steve Helber/AP

If Jenkins is off the board, San Diego could turn its attention to Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers (5'10", 190 pounds). A.J. Smith would love to see Flowers blossom in San Diego; the Bolts brought him in for a private workout earlier this month. Flowers finished his senior season with 86 total tackles, eight tackles for a loss and five interceptions.

The Chargers would benefit by adding Flowers' go-getter attitude to their secondary. Flowers has the confidence to play on an island and the closing speed to prevent quarterbacks from picking on him as a rookie. Like Jenkins, Flowers is a terrific run defender, which is a prerequisite in San Diego's defense.

Should the draft board fall in an unfavorable fashion, the Chargers could turn their attention to Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason (6'0", 191 pounds). Cason comes off a monster senior season in which he totaled 71 tackles, 14 pass breakups and five interceptions. He made a similar impact off the field, distributing his "Cason Cares" wrist bands to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Cason ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine and plays even faster than his timed speed. He showcases excellent anticipation and baits quarterbacks into making bad throws. It helps that the NFL is in Cason's blood; his father, Wendell, played with the Atlanta Falcons from 1984-1987.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.

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