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Chargers pick 'perfect fit' safety Nasir Adderley in second round of NFL draft

Chargers pick 'perfect fit' safety Nasir Adderley in second round of NFL draft
Delaware safety Nasir Adderley of Delaware smiles before the start of the Senior Bowl college football game on Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala. The Chargers picked Adderley in the second round of the NFL draft. (Butch Dill / Associated Press)

The Chargers’ first-round pick, Jerry Tillery, went to Maui for his draft party.

Their second-round pick, Nasir Adderley, went to a Dave & Buster’s.

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The team, however, doesn’t anticipate the gap between the two being that large this season.

Both are expected to be contributors, Adderley giving the Chargers a versatility option at free safety a year after they were forced to play Jahleel Addae there.

“It’s a perfect fit,” Adderley said. “I really enjoyed my meetings with the coaching staff. I mean, I’m part of a winning team. They were on the brink of a Super Bowl … I want to contribute to bring a Super Bowl they deserve.”

The Chargers drafted Adderley with the 28th pick of the second round out of Delaware, where he was a Football Championship Subdivision All-American.

In the third round Friday they stayed small school, taking Trey Pipkins, a 6-foot-6, 309-pound offensive tackle from Division II Sioux Falls.

Adderley indicated academics prevented him from attending a larger school and said his performance in the Senior Bowl confirmed his belief — and the belief of others, apparently — that he was an NFL talent.

“I know everyone has questions about that,” Adderley admitted. “I’m just confident in my ability. I know if I do all the little things and do what I’m supposed to do I’m going to be just fine and be a great player in this league.”

Addae, who was undrafted out of Central Michigan, eventually emerged as a starter for the Chargers.

But when the team drafted Derwin James a year ago, Addae was bumped from his natural position of strong safety. Lining up deeper on in the defense, he struggled at times.

The Chargers decided to release Addae in March. Adderley said he believes he can now pair with James to give the Chargers something special.

Rayshawn Jenkins and Jaylen Watkins also will compete for time at free safety, general manager Tom Telesco calling the starting job “wide open.” He also said Adderley, citing his range and ball skills, could play some nickel cornerback.

“It’s incredible,” Adderley said of the possibility of teaming with James. “We’re going to be one of the best safety duos in the league. And I can promise you that.”

Adderley was limited during pre-draft evaluations because of a hamstring injury suffered during his pro day. He said he is fully healthy and expects to participate in the Chargers’ upcoming rookie camp.

He promised to bring physical play, competitiveness and an admirable work ethic. Adderley also said he envisions himself being a leader, the Chargers having a young and athletic secondary.

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“Speed is not an issue with him,” Telesco said. “His range is excellent. It’s a combination of both his foot speed and his instincts.”

Adderley explained that he patterns his game after Earl Thomas, a free safety who starred in Gus Bradley’s system in Seattle. Bradley is now the Chargers’ defensive coordinator. Thomas is now with Baltimore.

The Chargers’ newest defensive back has football in his blood. His late grandfather was cousins with Herb Adderley, a Hall of Famer who played in the 1960s.

“He’s helped me tremendously, even just going from high school to college,” Adderley said. “Just being a positive role model for me. I don’t know where I’d be without him.”

Pipkins has been a late developer who had no other offers coming out of high school in Minnesota beyond Division II Sioux Falls.

Telesco praised Pipkins’ feet, long arms and intelligence, saying he has “NFL athletic ability.” Pipkins’ experience playing left tackle in college also appealed to the Chargers.

“He has a lot of traits that we can develop,” Telesco said. “It’s going to take some time. But we have a good group he can learn from too.”

The call from the Chargers completed an unlikely journey for Pipkins. Last season, he played games against the likes of Winona State, Bemidji State and Upper Iowa.

Soon enough, he’ll find himself sitting in a meeting room with a group of players charged with protecting future Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers.

“I’m not sure that’s completely set in yet honestly,” he said. “That’s an unbelievable honor. … I’m excited to get there and start soaking in advice.”

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Nasir Adderley, safety

6 feet 0, 206 pounds, Delaware, Round 2, Pick 28

Notable: Adderley’s late grandfather was a cousin of Herb Adderley, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back who starred with Green Bay and Dallas in the 1960s.

Last season: He was a second-team Football Championship Subdivision All-American, leading the Fightin’ Blue Hens with four interceptions and seven pass breakups to go along with 87 tackles in 12 starts.

Why the Chargers drafted him: After last season, Jahleel Addae was cut in part in a salary cap move, opening a spot at the back of the secondary. Adderley gives the Chargers a player better suited for free safety. He also was used at times as a kick returner in college.

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Trey Pipkins, offensive tackle

6 feet 6, 309 pounds, Sioux Falls, Round 3, Pick 28

Notable: Pipkins said he started college at about 245 pounds and initially struggled to gain weight. What was his go-to food? Peanut butter sandwiches.

Last season: He dominated in pass protection, allowing no sacks and being named a first-team All-American. He finished third for the Gene Upshaw Award, which goes to the nation’s top Division II lineman.

Why the Chargers drafted him: Given his small-college background, Pipkins is considered a bit of a project and, if he can develop, will give the team much needed depth along the offensive line.

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