With the recent negative attitude surrounding the Chargers roster and draft picks as well as our fearless leaders 4-12 prediction for the 2013 Chargers I felt it was time for a pick me up article. I for one was very annoyed at the time of the draft about the Fluker pick and trade up for Te'o but I don't think we are as bad as some think. I'm going to compare last years Superbowl champions opening day roster to a likely roster for the Chargers.
Ravens Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
Chargers Quarterbacks: Philip Rivers, Charlie Whitehurst
Rivers is a better QB than Flacco by a sizeable margin but Flacco hit such a hot streak in the playoffs that that is evened out slightly. On the same team I feel like Rivers would have a much bigger impact than Flacco. Joe is severely overpaid due to his one hot streak and I doubt he lives up to or anywhere near his new contract. Taylor was a completely inexperienced QB who has good mobility but little else. Whitehurst has previous starting experience and is a capable backup.
Advantage: Chargers as they have a better starter and a better backup
Ravens Running Backs: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Bobby Rainey, Vonta Leach
Chargers Running Backs: Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown, Chris Gronkowski
Ray Rice is a very good running back who can play all 3 downs and is a very effective pass catcher and blocker. Rice may not be as good a runner as some think but has the ability to pick up a lot of yards. Bernard Pierce slowly developed into a very nice runner throughout the year and was able to pick up a lot of yards with his bruising running style. Although not as capable at pass catching as Rice he is decent. Bobby Rainey is solely a change of pace back. Vonta Leach is an all pro Fullback who was very good at paving open running lanes for Rice and could catch the ball.
I think the failures of Ryan Mathews are well chronicled and he is not the player that Rice is. However when healthy he is a good running back and a good pass catcher. He has failings in the pass blocking aspect of the game though. Woodhead is a solid 3rd down running back who will be effective in the screen game and offers versatility as he can line up in the slot. Ronnie Brown is another 3rd down back who has lost his pace but is an effective pass catcher and blocker. I don't know much about Gronkowski to be honest but he is nowhere near the player that Leach is.
Advantage: Ravens. They have better runners and a fullback than us and Rice can do it all.
Ravens Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson
Chargers Wide Receivers: Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander, Vincent Brown, Keenan Allen, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal
The Ravens had a very good possession receiver and two guys who can stretch the field. Boldin is the best in the league at fighting for the ball and Smith and Jones can both run sub 4.4 40's and are tall enough to get the jump ball. However Jones has his issues with catching the ball. Williams, Doss and Thompson saw very little game time and are totally unproven. Jones is very dangerous in the return game.
The Chargers have a very good receiving corps. We have good options at the starting spots and good backups. Floyd, Brown and Alexander are good at going up for the jump ball even though they don't have great speed. Brown is a savvy route runner and Allen offers a lot of potential and good YAC ability. Meachem and Royal have both underwhelmed but Meachem can stretch the field and Royal offers punt return ability.
Advantage: Chargers. The Ravens might have slightly better starters but the Chargers have much better depth and are 5 deep at the position. The Ravens have only 2 good receivers.
Ravens Tight End: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Billy Bajema
Chargers Tight End: Antonio Gates, John Phillips, Ladarius Green
The ravens have two decent tight ends who can both block and catch but aren't great at either. Dickson and Pitta are both very solid players but aren't game changers and probably never will be.
Gates is past his best but is still a good receiving tight end and despite not offering much as a blocker can get by. When healthy Gates can embarrass players if put in one on one match ups*. Phillips is a good blocker who apparently is a crafty receiver who can sneak his way open. He can move into H-Back and is a decent TE. Green is nothing more than potential at the moment but he has lots of it at 6"6 and running a 4.45 40 time.
Advantage: Chargers. The Chargers have a better pure receiver and pure blocker. Pitta and Dickson offer good options when on the field as they can play both roles.
Ravens Offensive Tackles: Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele
Chargers Offensive tackles: Max Starks, King Dunlap, DJ Fluker
Oher has underwhelmed at Left Tackle throughout his career but is an ok option who is a good starter at right tackle. McKinnie had severe work ethic problems last year and was benched due to weight issues. However he is talented and can start at either position. Kelechi Osemele played some games at Right tackle and had issues before being moved to guard and playing much better there. He is a decent back up.
Starks and Dunlap are both below average starters at Left Tackle but are a massive upgrade to last year. When healthy Starks is the better player and now we have much better depth at the position than before. Fluker is obviously inexperienced and will have issues with speed rushers in the NFL. He will be a good run blocker and will need to work on his footwork and quickness to help his pass protection.
Advantage: Ravens. They have a sizable advantage here with two better starters
Ravens Guards and Centers: Marshal Yanda, Matt Birk, Bobbie Williams, Jah Reid, Ginormous Gradkowski, Ramon Harewood
Chargers Guards and Centers: Nick Hardwick, David Molk, Jeromey Clary, Chad Rinehart, Rich Ohrnberger, Johnnie Troutman
The Ravens have a regular pro bowler at guard in Yanda and Reid performed well for a rookie. Williams provided veteran depth for the guards and is a decent player. Birk was a very old center living off past reputation who wasn't great all season but got by. Gradkowski was a rookie 4th rounder so wasmt bad depth.
The Chargers have a good center in Hardwick and Molk is a decent back up. Our guard spots aren't great but air heart will probably be a decent starter and Clary should perform okay after his position switch. Although we are projecting and can't be sure so we can't be sure. Troutman was a Projected 3rd rounder who has talent and should be good depth along with Ohrnberger.
Advantage: Ravens. In Yanda they have a very good player and they had a better set line up than the Chargers this year.
Ravens Defensive Line: Haloti Ngata, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Pernell McPhee, Arthur Jones, Terrence Cody, Bryan Hall, DeAngelo Tyson, Terrell Suggs
Chargers Defensive Line: Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes, Byron Jerideau, Kwame Geathers, Cam Thomas, Jarius Wynn, Dwight Freeney
Ngata is a very good defensive tackle who is a regular pro bowler. He can dominate at the line of scrimmage and needs to be planned against. Suggs** is an elite pass rusher who can destroy opposing teams. He was on PUP at the start of the season and wasn't at his elite form last year due to his torn Achilles in the offseason.
Liuget and Reyes are very good defensive ends with Liuget a soon to be pro bowler. They are both good pass rushers and Liuget is excellent against the run. Reyes has a lot of potential. I put Freeney in the Defensive line as I think he will line up with his hand in the dirt a lot. He is an ageing pas rusher but will be solid from the edge at least. The combination of Nose tackles will be okay. Thomas is a good pass rusher and I think Jerideau will hold up against the run with his stock frame.
Advantage: Ravens. They have two truly dominant players which is something we lack.
Ravens Linebackers: Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, Sergio Kindle, Brendan Ayanbadejo, Albert McLellan, Jameel McLain
Chargers Linebackers: Jarrett Johnson, Donald Butler, Manti Te'o, D.J Smith, Jonas Mouton, Larry English, Tourek Williams, Devan Walker
Lewis was a vastly over rated player last year and wasn't very good at all. He jumped on piles and wracked up fake tackle stats. Ellerbe became a very good inside linebacker down the straight. Kruger is a decent pass rusher who wasn't seen as much coming into the year. Upshaw is similar to JJ without the veteran smarts. The rest are a combination of elite special teamers and depth.
Butler is a soon to be pro bowler who is a good inside linebacker. Te'o is a good linebacker with very good instincts which will hopefully make up for his physical limitations. Johnson is a good player who is sturdy against the run but lacks pass rush skills. The rest are young depth aside from English who has been a horrible disappointment. However he may be able to step up slightly if healthy.
Advantage: Chargers. I feel like Te'o is bound to be better than Lewis was last year and Butler is better than Ellerbe was. Johnson is a better but older version of Upshaw and Kruger is a better English. Overall the Chargers nick it.
Ravens Cornerbacks: Ladarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Cary Williams, Corey Graham, Danny Gorrer, Chykie Brown
Chargers Cornerbacks: Derek Cox, Shareece Wright, Steve Williams, Josh Johnson, Greg Gatson
The Ravens have a good cornerback in Webb.coulda a pro bowler.They have 2 so so starters in Williams and Smith. They are ok but nothing special. Graham is good veteran depth who is also a good special teamer. Overall the Ravens have a decent cornerback group.
Derek Cox is a very good corner when healthy and on the level of Webb if he stays fit in my opinion. The rest are young and I have little faith in them. Wright has potential and I like Williams as a Nickel Corner. This group lacks depth quite severely.
Advantage: Ravens. They have better starters and better depth.
Ravens Safeties: Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Sean Considine, Asa Jackson
Chargers Safeties: Eric Weddle, Marcus Gilchrist, Darrel Stuckey, Brandon Taylor, Jahleel Addae
Ed Reed is another massively over rated player who is injury prone and lives off his rep. He is an ok free safety at best and misses a lot of tackles. Pollard is a decent strong safety who is a liability in pass coverage. Considine is a good special Teamer and not bad depth.
Eric Weddle is an all pro player and the best player the Chargers have. He is great against the run and pass and is a truly awesome player. The other safety spot isn't solidified but Gilchrist appears to slot nicely in there and at Nickel CB. Taylor is injured but is a promising player. Stuckey is a very good special Teamer and Addae is the next Ronnie Lott***
Advantage Chargers: Weddle shifts this firmly to the Chargers side.
Ravens Special Teamers: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
Chargers Special Teamers: Nick Novak, Mike Scifres, Mike Windt
Advantage: Chargers. Scifres swings it the Chargers way
I know this is a slightly flawed process with the differing schemes the Chargers and Ravens use but I felt it was a useful process. Thanks for reading if you made it this far I admire you.
*Looking at you Eric Berry
**Suggs started the season on the PUP list so it appears the Ravens had 54 players
***I couldn't resist it