The San Diego Chargers offense thrives under the leadership of Pro Bowl quarterback Phillip Rivers.
However, lost in the shuffle of a high-octane scoring attack is a defense that doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. And while it might not be the NFL’s best, defensive back Eric Weddle, certainly makes it one of the most feared units in the league.
Weddle doesn’t get the publicity of other defensive backs such as Donte Whitner or Earl Thomas. But don’t let the lack of exposure fool you, because Weddle is indeed amongst the NFL elite. The Chargers free safety has quite a number of notable career accolades to back up this statement. He has been named to three Pro-Bowls (2011, 2013, 2014) and is a two-time All-Pro (2011, 2014).
San Diego saw the flashes of greatness in Weddle dating back to his college days at Utah. The Chargers believed so highly in what they saw that they traded away the 62nd pick, 93rd pick and 167th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, and a 2008 3rd rounder, to move into position to pick the future All-Pro safety in the second round.
Current NFL Network draft analyst, Mike Mayock, gave Weddle a strong endorsement upon his selection to San Diego, leaving little doubt as to the kind of player San Diego was receiving
“He will upgrade them athletically in the middle of the field. I like this kid a lot. He’s an instinctive kid with a nose for the ball”
Weddle made good on Mayock’s analysis and had an immediate impact in San Diego. Over the course of two years, the Chargers went from the second-worst pass defense in all of the NFL to the second best, and Weddle was a big reason for that change of course.
The Chargers have relied on Weddle’s defensive leadership for the last eight years. Sadly, his ninth year might be the last he spends as a Charger. Weddle is one of many notable players San Diego will have to negotiate a new contract with at the conclusion of the season.
However, despite the impending free agency, Weddle isn’t looking towards the future. There are still at least 16 games left for him to be played with the Chargers, and he intends on making this season the most significant one of his career.
“I just want to go out on a high note, go out on top and lead my team,” he said. “I want to continue to show what I’m all about. I’m a pro. I’m a professional and strive to be the best and try to have fun.”
Weddle might not be the youngest of the dominant defensive backs the league has to offer, but the 30-year-old is determined to cement himself as one of the league’s best. It’s about time those outside of San Diego see that.