Changing positions in the NFL is not a very common thing given the fact that most players are drafted or signed to do a specific job. If a player is asked to make a position change, sometimes it may do more harm than good as that guy may resent the fact that he was removed from his previous spot. Thankfully that won’t be the case for Marcus Gilchrist in his switch to safety in 2013 with the San Diego Chargers.
Gilchrist is a rangy cover guy that will provide the back end of the secondary with the perfect complement to Eric Weddle at the other safety position. Weddle is the gambler who can come down in the box, play linebacker, cover the slot, or even play the traditional safety spot. His chameleon ability makes adding a strictly coverage guy to his opposite as the perfect move in San Diego.
When asked about the switch during the team’s minicamp, Gilchrist really embraced the idea as he told the team website:
“I’ve always played safety from high school to college. It was one of those things where I was working at all the positions. Nothing was set in stone. I just worked at all positions so I’m very comfortable playing safety.”
After the Chargers signed Derek Cox in free agency and selected Steve Williams in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, all signs pointed to Gilchrist making the move to safety. New head coach Mike McCoy actually contemplated the move very early as he said:
“We’re trying to find the best players to go out there and play. He’s played obviously there before. During the offseason when we got here we talked about position flexibility and possibly putting him back there. So we let him work there for a while and see how comfortable he is and see what we think as a football team. He’s done a nice job so far.”
With the ever-growing trend of athletic tight ends in the NFL, safeties are given the responsibility of covering these freaks of nature on a regular basis. That will likely be a part of Gilchrist’s job description in the coming season which means he will see plenty of action in coverage.
Some may consider a safety on a tight end a mismatch that favors the offense, but Gilchrist is determined to make that a misconception in his case. He believes that covering a future Hall of Famer in Antonio Gates on a daily basis in training camp will aid his cause. Gilchrist said:
“Playing against him helps a lot. I enjoy and embrace going up against him. He’s a future Hall of Famer. Getting to go up against a guy as gifted and talented as he is will only make me better. He’ll prepare me to go up against any tight end in the league.”
The secondary for San Diego isn’t particularly deep, but Gilchrist will have some competition in camp if Brandon Taylor can get back to full health or Darrell Stuckey can step up. This should only further help him to improve at the position during camp and really accelerate his growth heading into the regular season.