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Initial Cut at the 53 man roster

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We've gone through the position battles and depth chart at several of our key positions (DBs, D Line, O Line, and ILB).  While those discussions are fruitful for who is starting and who is backing up, it is always difficult to figure out who might stick around from that group as a 3rd guy or special teams guy.  Those sorts of decisions tend to be made in the context of the entire roster rather than a specific position group.

So I thought it might be a good time to take a first cut at what the 53 man roster might look like.  I know a lot of you might not care about this in this much detail, especially since it is pretty premature at this time of the year.  Most of this will shake out once camp and preseason games start. 

Outside of wasting some of your time, it can't really hurt to take an initial rough look at how things might shake out once the roster is considered as a whole.

So, if you're interested, read on!

First of all, let's review some roster size basics.  By the time the regular season starts, the Chargers will have 53 players on their roster.  On game day, the coaches will pick 45 players to be "active." These active players will suit up and can play.  The inactive players will be on the sideline in street clothes.  The exception to this is the 3rd string QB who is labeled as the emergency QB.  He is technically inactive, but is still suited up.  He can be activated during the game if the first two QBs get injured.  If he comes into the game, the first two QBs are not allowed back in.  You don't have to have an inactive emergency QB.  Theoretically, you could have 3 active QBs (no one does this) or you could only have 2 QBs on your 53 man roster and have a WR or RB effectively be your third QB (I know Marty did this a few years).  No other inactive player can be activated during the game.

They will also have a practice squad of up to 8 additional players.  The practice squad is composed of players who have been cut and gone through waivers without being signed by any other teams and are then signed to the practice squad.  Not every player is eligible for the practice squad.  The eligibility rules are:

  1. No more than 3 years on the practice squad.
  2. No more than nine games on the active list in a previous season.

- from the Collective Bargaining Agreement p.170 (interesting read if you are into this kind of stuff)

All right, so you know the basics, so let's start counting!

First of all, the starters who we all agree will be starting opening day (injuries excepted of course)

# Name Pos. Yrs.
1 Scifres, Mike P 7
2 Kaeding, Nate K 6
3 Tomlinson, LaDainian RB 9
4 Dielman, Kris G 7
5 Gates, Antonio TE 7
6 Hardwick, Nick C 6
7 Jackson, Vincent WR 5
8 McNeill, Marcus T 4
9 Rivers, Philip QB 6
10 Castillo, Luis DE 5
11 Cooper, Stephen ILB 7
12 Williams, Jamal DT 12
13 Cromartie, Antonio CB 4
14 Jammer, Quentin CB 8
15 Merriman, Shawne OLB 5
16 Phillips, Shaun OLB 6

Now, the backups, critical specialty guys (Sproles, Cason, etc.),  and guys in position battles where they are sure of making the team even if they aren't starting.

# Name Pos. Yrs.
17 Clary, Jeromey T 3
18 Floyd, Malcom WR 4
19 Forney, Kynan G 9
20 Hester, Jacob FB 2
21 Manumaleuna, Brandon TE 9
22 Mruczkowski, Scott C 5
23 Naanee, Legedu WR 3
24 Shelton, L.J. T 11
25 Sproles, Darren RB 5
26 Volek, Billy QB 10
27 Whitehurst, Charlie QB 4
28 Bingham, Ryon DE-DT 5
29 Burnett, Kevin LB 5
30 Cason, Antoine CB 2
31 Cesaire, Jacques DE 7
32 Tucker, Jyles OLB 3
33 Weddle, Eric FS 3

Let's throw in our top 3 draft picks and assume they are making the team no matter what.

# Name Pos. Yrs.
34 Vasquez, Louis G R
35 English, Larry OLB R
36 Martin , Vaughn DE R

We are through 36 spots on the roster and now we are to the spots where guys might need to worry about not making the roster.  The veterans have the inside track on making the team, but could be dislodged by someone else, or even squeezed because of roster pressures elsewhere (For instance, what if Martin is really unprepared for the NFL, yet we don't want to cut him, so we have to hang on to an additional DL that we wouldn't if Martin could be a viable backup.  That could squeeze someone at a different position).  First of all, here is where we stand depth-wise at all the positions (needed starters in parenthesis)

  • K/P (2) - 2
  • QB (1) - 3
  • RB (1) - 2
  • FB (1) - 1
  • TE (1) - 2
  • OT (2) - 3
  • OG/C (3) - 5
  • WR (2) - 3
  • DL (3) - 5
  • OLB (2) - 4
  • ILB (2) - 2
  • S (2) - 1
  • CB (2) - 3

Here is how I see the rest of it shaking out.  I've added in a practice squad eligible (pse) column to mark guys that can be placed on the practice squad.  If a guy is practice squad eligible, the team may be inclined to cut him and keep the non-eligible guy (all other things equal).  Then they hope the guy makes it through waivers and they sign him to the practice squad and essentially keep both. The guys without a number by their name are the guys who don't make the team.

# Name Pos. Yrs. pse
37 Applewhite, Antwan OLB 2
38 Chambers, Chris WR 9
39 Dobbins, Tim ILB 4
40 Hart, Clinton SS 7
41 Dombrowski, Brandyn G/T 1 X
42 Johnson, Gartrell RB R X
43 Scott, Ian DT 7
44 Siler, Brandon ILB 3
45 Wilson, Kris TE 6
46 Gregory, Steve DB-S 4
47 Oliver, Paul DB-S 3
48 Gordon, Cletis CB 4
49 Bennett, Michael RB 9
50 Ellison, Kevin S R X
51 Binn, David LS 16
52 Beckwith, Darry ILB R X
53 Davis, Buster WR 3
Grennan, Keith DE 2 X
Hughes, Brandon CB R X
Osgood, Kassim WR 7
Tolbert, Mike FB 2
Wilhelm, Matt ILB 7
Green, Tyronne C R X
Clark, Corey OT 2 X
Allen, Sam G R X
Bakhtiari, Eric LB 1 X
Banks, Gary WR 1 X
Brinkley, Curtis RB R X
Brown, Ramarcus CB R X
Byrd, Demetrius WR R X
Carr, Greg WR R X
Childs, Jeremy WR R X
Coleman, Andre DE 1 X
Felder, Anthony OLB R X
Gay, Dan OT R X
Holt, James OLB R X
Jackson, Rashaad DT R X
Latsko, Billy FB 1 X
Martin, Charly WR R X
McDonald, Ryan C R X
Muth, Ben G R X
Nwagbuo, Ogemdi DT 1 X
Osaisai, Wopamo CB R X
Rentmeester, William FB R X
Smith, Rodgeriqus WR R X
Sperry, Kory TE R X
Spillman, C.J. FS R X

If the numbered guys at left make the roster, our position counts look like this:

  • K/P/LS (2) - 3
  • QB (1) - 3
  • RB (1) - 4
  • FB (1) - 1
  • TE (1) - 3
  • OT (2) - 4
  • OG/C (3) - 5
  • WR (2) - 5
  • DL (3) - 6
  • OLB (2) - 5
  • ILB (2) - 5
  • S (2) - 5
  • CB (2) - 4

I think the above 53 man roster is a little heavy on the defensive backs, but I think there is enough uncertainty back there that they will want the numbers.  ILB is also a little heavy (even with no Wilhelm), so that might shake out differently.  No backup fullback is perhaps not a bright idea.  No Kassim Osgood, I think his time is done (but I will be happy if I'm wrong).

I admit, this is way premature, but it does help us think out some of the complexities at the bottom end of the position battles more clearly, if not conclusively.  Also, one thing you notice pretty quickly is that cutting the roster to 53 players leaves some good players on the street.  No matter how you shuffle that last group, you're not going to be able to keep everyone you want.