Inside Scouting Report: Nathan Vasher

The San Diego Chargers signed Nathan Vasher to a two-year contract Monday. The addition of Vasher -- along with the earlier signing of Donald Strickland -- has Chargers fans excited that Antonio Cromartie has been sufficiently replaced. Not so fast, cautions Bear Report publisher John Crist.

John Crist is publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. He followed CB Nathan Vasher closely during his six seasons in Chicago and shares with us his first-hand observations.

Strengths: Earlier in his career, Vasher showed great play-making ability and fantastic ball skills. He worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie, picking off five passes as a fourth-round draft pick. A year later, he made his only Pro Bowl by recording eight picks.

When he does get the ball in his hands, he know what to do with it, too. One of the more memorable plays in franchise history, he returned a San Francisco missed field goal a then-NFL record 108 yards for a touchdown in 2005.

Off the field, Vasher is a sweetheart of a guy and never ruffles any feathers in the locker room.

Weaknesses: Despite 13 INTs his first two years in Chicago, Vasher was never a good fit for the Cover 2 because he's undersized and not a very physical player. Injuries have been a problem in the past, as he missed most of 2007 with a nasty groin problem and then a good chunk of 2008 with a nagging wrist/thumb issue.

Finally healthy again for training camp in 2009, he was totally outclassed by Zack Bowman and lost his starting job for good in Week 2. Never very fast, the step he looks to have lost has robbed him not only of his effectiveness, but his confidence. Versatility is not his strength either, as the Bears tried Vasher at both nickel back and free safety last year before quickly ending both experiments.

Crist Says: Unless Vasher is one of your starting cornerbacks, he doesn't seem to be worthy of a roster spot. Plainly speaking, he just doesn't appear to have "it" anymore.

As far as special teams are concerned, he did return punts in college but was never anything more than a backup punt returner for the Bears and only got asked to fair catch the ball because he does have secure hands. He's not fast enough or a good enough tackler to contribute much on the coverage units.

While I'm sure Ron Rivera and Steven Wilks will welcome Vasher with open arms because they saw him when he was at his best, I'm not expecting him to resurrect his career in San Diego.

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