It didn't take long after the NFL draft for Arizona State safety Alden Darby to announce that he was one of the first free agents to sign, inking a deal with the San Diego Chargers.
Darby grew up in Long Beach, California, as a Chargers fan, and now gets a shot to play for his boyhood team, as well as playing alongside his Arizona State teammate Marion Grice, whom San Diego selected in the sixth round on the same day.
I'm proud to say I am officially a San Diego Charger !!! I grew up a Charger fan and now I'm playing for them. God is good !!!!— Alden Darby (@Pic6Darb) May 10, 2014
While Grice may have a more direct route to the Chargers roster, Darby will have to fight for a chance to play at Qualcomm Stadium.
Excluding the play of Eric Weddle at safety, Chargers fans saw a secondary that struggled last season. Cornerback Derek Cox, safety Darrell Stuckey and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist just didn't get the job done. They were part of a defense that gave up 258.7 passing yards per game, good for 29th in the NFL last year and a total average of 366.5 yards per game, only a marginal improvement at 23rd in the league last season.
Unfortunately for Darby, 2014 already looks brighter for the Chargers. Weddle is as good as it gets as a safety, and San Diego is hoping for a big jump from Jahleel Addae in the other safety spot. That leaves Darby out of a position, meaning he may need to make the jump to cornerback, where he would compete primarily against returners Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, as well as 2014 first-round pick Jason Verrett and 2013 fifth-rounder Steve Williams, who was hurt and did not play in 2013.
Like most undrafted free agents, if Darby makes the team, it will most likely be on special teams. With a crowded backfield, former Sun Devil Grice may have to break in on special teams, and if Darby can excel on the punt and kickoff units like he did in the maroon and gold, and it may just be enough to get him into the powder blues.