Time for the Class of 2012 to Shine

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The common conception of an NFL player is that they should make their largest progression from year two to year three of their careers. If that holds true, the Bolts will be in good shape in 2014.

A.J. Smith's final draft in San Diego produced some very talented players. The final two selections, center David Molk and running back Edwin Baker, are no longer with the team, but they are still in the league. For the players selected round 1-5, 2014 will be an excellent time to have break out seasons.

Round 1: Melvin Ingram

Ingram had a solid rookie year, although he did not see the field much due to being buried on the depth chart. The team (and the fans) were very excited to see what he could do going into round two. It is pretty clear that the Chargers were depending on Ingram to produce at a high level last season. Mainly by the fact that when he tore his ACL back in May of 2013, they went right out and signed Dwight Freeney.

Surprising to many, Ingram was able to return by the end of the 2013 season, and play pretty well. He played only 14 snaps in his week 14 return, but by the divisional round of the playoffs he was all the way up to 62 snaps. With a full offseason to truly reach 100%, Ingram will be under pressure to produce in 2014. I am as excited as anybody to see what he can do in what will be his first full season as a major contributor.

Round 2: Kendall Reyes

Kendall Reyes had a fantastic rookie campaign. He played in over 40 snaps in every game from week 11 on in 2012. In those 6 games, Reyes tallied 5 sacks, and 21 total QB pressures (Pro Football Focus). He had a lot to build on going into his sophomore season.

The next season was a different story. Out of 24 qualifying 3-4 defensive ends, PFF had Reyes ranked dead last. There is a lot to be said about how Kendall Reyes was used in 2013, however. He was asked to be more of a "traditional" 3-4 defensive end, asking to hold up blocks rather than play in a gap and get into the backfield. The Chargers need to find a way to get Reyes playing like he did in his rookie year. If they can, The team's pass rush, and defense overall, will be tremendously improved.

Round 3: Brandon Taylor

Taylor has the longest way to go to make an impact on the team, but there could still be a place for him. He missed all of 2013 after an ACL tear in his rookie season never healed quite right. With Marcus Gilchrist and Jahleel Addae ahead of him on the depth chart, Taylor probably won't be much of a factor on defense this year. He will get a shot to play on special teams, and could factor in at safety down the road, especially with Gilchrist being in a contract year. Taylor has reportedly been a full participant in offseason workouts, so he is on the right track.

Round 4: Ladarius Green

My, well, love for Mr. Green has been well documented, so I will try not to gush too much here. The bottom line is, he brings something to the offense that no other Charger can. His blocking is not a strength, but he is less of a liability as a blocker than Antonio Gates.

Green can line up in-line at tight end, in the slot, or even out wide. He doesn't necessarily need to take snaps from any one player to get on the field, as he is best used as a chess piece that can move all over. He scored a touchdown on a fade route while lined up out wide against the Bengals. He scored a 60-yard touchdown when lined up in the slot against the Chiefs. Green adds so much explosion to the offense, and if the Chargers want a breakout performance from him, all they have to do is get him on the field.

Round 5: Johnnie Troutman

Now is the time for Troutman to make noise if he wants to be a starting guard. Chad Rinehart likely has one of the starting spots pegged down, and with Jeromey Clary recovering from surgery, Troutman and rookie Chris Watt will be competing and showing off their talents.

Troutman started a handful of games in 2013 and has plenty of talent, particularly in the run game. However, he still has room to improve as a pass blocker and with overall awareness. If Troutman can become a more technically sound player, he could nab a starting guard spot and never look back. If not, he still has plenty of value as a number 3 guard.

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