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slot man

Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle (born January 4, 1985) is an American football safety for the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League.

Early years

Weddle grew up in Alta Loma, California and attended local Alta Loma High School. At Alta Loma, he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, he was a three-time All-League selection and a two-time All-CIF selection.

Weddle added first-team All-Area accolades from the Los Angeles Times and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. The second team All-Southern Section also received All-Region honors from Rivals.com and Student Sport Magazine. He was named the team’s Best Receiver and MVP as a senior.

The team captain had 129 tackles, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and five recovered fumbles on defense, adding 587 yards rushing, 22 touchdowns, 965 yards passing and five scoring tosses as a senior. He led Alta Loma High to the 2000 Mt. Baldy League championship.

College career

Upon enrolling at the University of Utah in 2003, Weddle was immediately put into action, starting his last nine games at right cornerback. He earned Freshman All-American first-team and All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention. He posted 60 tackles (29 solos) with four sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He deflected four passes and intercepted another while also carrying the ball once (minus 6 yards).

In 2004, Weddle shifted to strong safety, starting eleven games. Despite sitting out the Arizona clash with a right knee sprain, he ranked third on the team with 75 tackles (47 solos). He added one sack, 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble. He advanced a fumble recovery 31 yards, batted away five passes and intercepted four others. He also averaged 10.5 yards on 20 punt returns.

Weddle earned Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, first-team All-MWC, second-team All-American and Emerald Bowl Defensive MVP honors in 2005. He started all twelve games, lining up at strong safety in five contests, at left cornerback in four and as a nickel back in three others. He ranked third on the team with 78 tackles (49 solos) and second with eleven stops for losses. He had four sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He led the conference with sixteen passes defensed (12 break-ups, 4 interceptions). He punted twice for 46 yards, attempted two passes and averaged 6.4 yards on 24 punt returns. He also rushed seven times for 35 yards and one touchdown.

In 2006 Weddle was a consensus All-American and unanimous All-MWC first-team choice. He was again named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. He started the team’s first two games at strong safety before shifting to left cornerback and closed out the season as the nickel back. He made 64 tackles (40 solos) with a sack, a forced fumble and 2.5 stops for losses. He returned one of three fumble recoveries for a touchdown, deflected two passes and ranked eighth in the nation with seven interceptions. He averaged 5.5 yards on eight punt returns and completed 2-of-4 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. He also carried 44 times for 203 yards (4.6 avg) and five scores.

In 48 games at Utah, Weddle started 45 times (9 at right cornerback, 12 at left cornerback, 6 at nickel back, 18 at strong safety). He recorded 277 tackles, as his 165 solo hits rank sixth in school annals. He produced ten sacks for minus 69 yards and 22.5 stops for losses of 108 yards. He set the school career record with nine forced fumbles and ranks sixth with six fumble recoveries, returning two for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Weddle is tied for sixth in Utah history with 23 pass deflections and ranks second (MWC record) with 18 interceptions for 148 yards (8.2 avg) in returns. His three pass thefts returned for touch-downs rank second in school annals. He ranks fifth on the school record books with 52 punt returns, good for 408 yards (7.8 avg).

On offense, Weddle rushed 52 times for 259 yards (5.0 avg) and six touchdowns. He completed 2-of-6 passes for 43 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He recovered an onside kick and also punted twice for 46 yards with a long of 34.

Nearing the end of an electrifying senior year, Doug Robinson of the Deseret Morning News wrote an article championing Weddle for the Heisman Trophy based on how valuable he is to the Utah Utes. He wrote, "The only people who spend more time on the field than Weddle each Saturday are referees. Against Air Force two weeks ago, Weddle played every snap on defense and collected eight tackles. On offense, he led the Utes in rushing with 73 yards and scored Utah's only two touchdowns. He also served as the holder for the game-winning field goal. He played a total of 90 plays." Robinson wrote that Fisher DeBerry, Air Force's football head coach told Weddle after the game, "They're cheating you, son; they ought to give you two scholarships." Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said, "He should win the Heisman Trophy... I sincerely mean that.

NFL career

2007 NFL Draft

In the 2007 NFL Draft, the Chargers traded the 62nd pick (2nd), 93rd pick (3rd), and a 2008 3rd rounder and 2008 5th rounder to the Chicago Bears for the right to move up to the 37th pick and select Weddle. Chicago has so far taken Dan Bazuin and Garrett Wolfe in 2007, and Marcus Harrison and Kellen Davis in 2008. Despite the price San Diego ended up paying for Weddle, experts still believed he would be of tremendous value to the Chargers.

In a short article by the Union Tribune 's Jay Posner, he quoted NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock as saying, "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." ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said, "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)." Charger Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, Buddy Nix responded, "We're not worried about what we gave up; we're worried about what we got.''

In a feature article by CBS SportsLine.com's Clark Judge, Judge praised Weddle as "the most intriguing safety in the draft." because of his versatility and ability to play so many positions. He quoted Weddle with, "I'm just a guy who loves football and will do anything for the team. I'll go out there and play special teams like I've done in my career. I'll play offense or defense or whatever the teams needs. And I'll do the best I can."

Judge highlighted how Weddle was able to shut down the Georgia Tech football team's Calvin Johnson, holding him to 2 catches for 19 yards in the 2005 Emerald Bowl. Judge wrote, "Johnson is the best player in the draft, but Weddle was the Defensive MVP of that game." When asked by Judge how he did it, Weddle responded, "I pride myself on preparation. I had four weeks to prepare for a player of (Johnson's) caliber. You have to bring your A-plus game. If you film-study you can eliminate stuff ... you can eliminate 90 percent of what the guy's going to do just based by his split, his release. So half the game I knew what he was going to do before he did it, and I was just breaking on the routes. No disrespect to their team, but the times they threw to him I was just breaking on the ball."

When asked by Judge how he expects to help an NFL team, Weddle responded, "The million dollar question is what I like better -- corner or safety. I think (NFL teams) get irritated because I say, 'both of them.' They want to hear an answer, but that's true. I love playing man-to-man. I love playing outside, the challenge it brings. I love blitzing. I love playing zones or being around the box. Whatever the team needs."

In an interview with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio's The Herd with Colin Cowherd, former Titans GM Floyd Reese was asked about this pick and how much the Chargers had given up to get him and intimated to Colin that he believes Weddle to be the best athlete of the 2007 Draft.

In an interview with Chargers.com after the draft, Buddy Nix and new head coach Norv Turner were asked about their opinion of Weddle. When asked what he liked about him most, Nix responded, "I think his versatility is one thing. Our defense, instead of having to substitute and guess when you start getting full of wide-outs and that kind of thing, this guy can walk up and play the slot man which is hard to do without having to substitute, like on third down when we would play nickel or dime. But if they throw it out there at you and don’t have somebody that can go down and play on the slot, then it causes you problems."

Turner also had this to say about Weddle: "First of all Eric is a guy makes a strong impression on you right away. He’s a confident guy. He’s an outgoing guy. I think the fact that this guy can line-up and play safety, play on the slot and he’s played outside and corner at Utah. They showed one of the clips and we caught some of it but they showed one of him lined-up at quarterback on third down and taking a shotgun snap and running with the ball. He’s a highly intelligent player and he has a knack. Some guys have it and some guys don’t. There were a couple plays that we were looking at and Ted Cottrell (defensive coordinator) called me in one day and said ‘look at this play’ and he tackles the guy from behind, spins him and when they both bounce off the ground Eric has the ball in his hand and he never touches the ground, he picks it up and runs it in for a touchdown. As Buddy said, he had four returns for touchdowns. He’s a guy that finds a way to make plays. He gives us versatility in the secondary, and obviously gives us a guy that will be a playmaker on special teams. Our defensive coaches were really excited when we walked down the hall and said we’re going to get this player.

Pre-draft measureables
Wt 40 yd 20 ss 3-cone Vert BP Wonderlic
203 lb* 4.48s* 4.12s* 6.78s* 35 11* X
(* represents NFL Combine)

San Diego Chargers

2007 Season

As of September 1st 2007, after all the necessary cuts to reduce the roster to 53 players, Weddle is the strong safety behind Clinton Hart. He is also known to be the teams Dimeback playing in 2nd/3rd and long situations, along with being the backup holder on special teams. It has been speculated that he would be used instead of the current holder Mike Scifres in situations where a fake field goal or extra point attempt would occur as he is a threat to run or throw the ball in those situations.

The Chargers led the NFL in takeaways for the 2007 season with 48. Weddle caught his first NFL regular season interception on October 28, 2007 against the Houston Texans in Qualcomm Stadium. Weddle saw plenty of action his first season, playing as the Dime safety and finished his rookie season with 48 total tackles, one sack and one interception along with 6 pass deflections while playing in one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL.

2008 Season

At the start of the 2008 season, Weddle was officially named the starting free safety alongside Clinton Hart who was signed to a long-term contract extension in the offseason at strong safety. On September 22, Weddle made his first interception of the season against the New York Jets in a week 3 Monday Night Football game against quarterback Brett Favre.

References

References

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