Safety Rayshawn Jenkins showed his worth on the field and he was rewarded for it. However, it wasn’t by the Chargers. Instead, the Jaguars were the team who remunerated Jenkins.
Many, including myself, expected Los Angeles to re-sign Jenkins, with the expectation that he was going to form a tandem with Derwin James coming back next season.
L.A. might be banking on Nasir Adderley next season, but given the fact that head coach Brandon Staley likes to roll with three safeties on the field, the team could be looking to add another one.
With that being said, let’s take a look at five potential options in this year’s draft:
Ar’Darius Washington, TCU
Checking in at just 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, Washington is under the category that size doesn’t matter. He has the speed and range to thrive on the back end of the defense as well as the toughness and competitiveness.
Washington had five interceptions as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and ranked as one of the top safeties in the country, according to Pro Football Focus.In 2020, Washington started all 10 games and finished with 37 tackles, including one tackle for loss and five passes defensed.
At the next level, Washington projects as a free safety who can slide into the slot. His speed, toughness and ability to always be around the ball will allow him to be a contributor on special teams.
Andre Cisco, Syracuse
You want an absolute play-maker at the position? Cisco is that guy.
He totaled 13 interceptions and 14 passes defensed in just 24 career games. Lining up deep, in the box and in the slot, Cisco shows the physicality, range, instincts and ball skills for the position.
At the next level, he projects as a free safety, but he has the ability to line up all over the field. Cisco also has plenty of gunner and special teams experience, which is vital for the Bolts.
Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh
Hamlin is a diverse, tough, smart, and well-rounded defensive back who shows great coverage ability and ball skills, as well as excellent tackling in space and traffic. The former basketball and track athlete displays his athleticism when closing on pass-catchers.
For the Chargers, Hamlin would be a versatile player who can be a part of a two-high safety set, used in the box or lined up in the slot across from tight ends. His play speed, tackling ability and competitive nature would serve him well on special teams, too.
He was recruited by defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, who served as the Panthers’ secondary coach at the time. Therefore, the connection between Hamlin and Hill could bring the two together.
Tyree Gillespie, Missouri
Like these other safeties, Gillespie possesses the versatility needed at the next level. Gillespie wore many hat in Tigers’ defense. He has experience in single-high, two high and in the box as well as in man coverage on tight ends.
Gillespie is a diverse, tough, smart and well rounded defensive back. In coverage, he is disciplined, showing great reactive athleticism to lock onto pass-catchers. He is a great tackler in space and traffic, taking good angles to the ball and shows very good straight-line speed.
With Los Angeles, Gillespie would project as a free safety with the ability to play in the slot. His speed and ability to chase down ballcarriers would serve him well on special teams.
James Wiggins, Cincinnati
After tearing his ACL in 2019, Wiggins wasn’t really able to bounce back in the way that he wanted after his season was cut short due to COVID-19. All in all, Wiggins finished his collegiate career with 87 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and five interceptions.
Another versatile safety, Wiggins has experience in single-high, two high as well as in the slot. A key defender for the Bears, he has the athleticism, explosiveness, and big-play ability, along with the hard-hitting nature, good ball skills and awareness.
If he stays healthy, Wiggins can be a key piece in the secondary, projecting as a free safety where he can use his speed on the back end. He also has versatility to line up and stay in phase in man coverage. His skillset is tailor made for special teams.