As the quarterback of the San Diego Chargers defense for a few years now, safety Eric Weddle will add a new role to his job description for the 2013 campaign. Given all the roster turnover across the Bolts secondary, Weddle finds himself as the only returning member of the starting group across the back four. This bestows upon him a leadership title that he has yet to experience as he enters his seventh NFL season.
Obviously Weddle’s job on the field won’t change much. He is the play diagnosing Jesse on the backend of the Bolts defense that just finds a way to be in the right place at the right time. Despite his knack for being in the right place at the right time, Weddle has only been selected to one Pro Bowl even though he has been named an All-Pro for three consecutive years. Sometimes fan voting doesn’t do a player’s skills justice, and Weddle’s exclusion from the Pro Bowl this past season certainly illustrates that.
What Weddle may be most responsible for in the upcoming season is helping whoever wins the starting job at the other safety spot to be in the right position at all times. Whether Marcus Gilchrist claims the starting gig as expected, Darrell Stuckey comes out of nowhere to grab the job, or second-year stud Brandon Taylor recovers enough to start, Weddle will likely be directing traffic quite frequently on the back end of the defense.
It’s been hard to find a player more valuable to the Chargers on defense than Weddle over the past half-decade. When the team traded up in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft to land the former Utah Ute, many fans were upset with just how much the team gave up to move up and get their man. Talking head critics like Mel Kiper Jr. harped on the Bolts saying:
“That’s an awful lot to give up. They’re telling us they don’t need all those other draft picks (because of the talent already on the roster).”
Then San Diego assistant GM and director of player personnel Buddy Nix responded:
“We’re not worried about what we gave up; we’re worried about what we got.”
Something tells me that still holds true in San Diego.