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Predicting the San Diego Chargers 53-man roster (still way too early)

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Matthew Stanley updates his prediction of the “best 53.”

San Diego Chargers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Back in May, I posted a “way too early” roster prediction. Now that training camp is all but over, and the team has had their 1st preseason game, it’s time to update that prediction with how things stand now. Remember, there are two more weeks and two games for things to change.

I'll be going position by position and listing:

1)Who I predicted in May

2)Who I think the team will keep now

3)Who I would keep now.

Quarterbacks - 2

  1. Philip Rivers, Zach Mettenberger
  2. Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens
  3. Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens

Mettenberger has not looked good in camp and didn’t have a great showing in the first preseason game. I had hopes back in May, but I was wrong. I think the team will keep Clemens since he has experience and tenure with the team. The team will, correctly, assume that they can stash UDFA Mike Bercovici on the practice squad. Honestly, after seeing all three backups in practice and the first preseason game, it doesn’t matter which one of them is the backup, if Rivers goes down, it’ll be time to start looking at which top 5 pick is going to be holding out of Chargers training camp next summer.

Runningbacks - 3

  1. Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver, Chris Swain
  2. Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver
  3. Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver, Chris Swain

For me, nothing has changed here other than underestimating Oliver. Gordon, Woodhead, and Oliver are all locks. I think the team might try only to keep 3 RB's on the roster, though. They can get UDFA Kenneth Farrow or Dreamius Smith on the PS, and they will likely try to put Chris Swain on the PS as well. As I said last time, I think Swain provides good value on the active roster between his blocking and power running.

Fullback - 1

  1. Derek Watt
  2. Derek Watt
  3. Derek Watt

Derek Watt is obviously the better fullback if you ask the Chargers. As much as I dog on him, he will make this roster. And probably should, even if there are things he really needs to work on to be much value. The only reason I don’t list Swain here under what I would do is because I have him listed as an RB, but he’s a hybrid.

Tight End - 4

  1. Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Jeff Cumberland
  2. Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Jeff Cumberland, Sean McGrath
  3. Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Jeff Cumberland, Sean McGrath

I think the team adds an extra TE here rather than having 4 RBs. Sean McGrath has been playing with the ones often throughout TC, and he was in with the ones during the 1st preseason game with Gates not playing. They obviously like what he offers. Jeff Cumberland has also flashed during training camp.

Wide Receiver - 6

  1. Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, Stevie Johnson, Dontrelle Inman, Javontee Herndon
  2. Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, James Jones, Isaiah Burse, Dontrelle Inman
  3. Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, James Jones, Isaiah Burse, Dontrelle Inman

Here is the first big change. Stevie went down with an injury and is gone for the season, while the team replaced him with veteran James Jones. Jones has come in and impressed very quickly and will be staying on the roster. Herndon gets the boot because he has been injured all TC and has yet to practice. Burse earns his way onto the roster after looking pretty impressive in camp and even getting one of the handful of snaps with the ones during the first preseason game. The Chargers’ sometimes annoying commitment to players that have been here a while forces them to keep Inman.

Offensive Line - 9

  1. King Dunlap, Orland Franklin, Matt Slauson, D.J. Fluker, Joseph Barksdale, Chris Hairston, Chris Watt, Max Tuerk
  2. King Dunlap, Orland Franklin, Matt Slauson, D.J. Fluker, Joseph Barksdale, Chris Hairston, Kenny Wiggins, Max Tuerk, Donavon Clark.
  3. King Dunlap, Orland Franklin, Matt Slauson, D.J. Fluker, Joseph Barksdale, Tyreek Burwell, Donavon Clark, Max Tuerk

Only a slight change from the Chargers here. I think they keep Kenny Wiggins and place Chris Watt on the IR. Watt is yet to practice after another offseason surgery. The new rule on IR players is that the team does not have to designate a specific person as “to return,” they can basically pick any player on their IR who’s been out at least six weeks and activate him when he’s healthy. I chose Tyreek over Hairston because I think he is playing a little better than Hairston right now. Clark has been very impressive in camp and has upside over Wiggins. I have the team keeping 9 OL because Franklin has still been dinged up in camp and will want to start with all the help they can get.

Offensive total - 25 for the Chargers, 25 for me

Defensive Line - 8

  1. Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Joey Bosa, Ryan Carrethers, Darius Philon, Sean Lissemore, Damion Square
  2. Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Joey Bosa, Ryan Carrethers, Darius Philon, Damion Square, Tenny Palepoi, Bruce Gaston
  3. Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Joey Bosa, Ryan Carrethers, Darius Philon, Damion Square, Bruce Gaston

This is not a very deep group. The big change here is Lissemore on the IR, so the team actually downgrades to Palepoi and Gaston. I am sticking with only seven players here anticipating that one of the surprise cuts on another team is a serviceable defensive lineman the Chargers can sign. I also went with Gaston over Palepoi because he showed me more in that first game, but it could go either way and wouldn’t shock me. Hopefully, Bosa is on the field and actually using his roster spot, but I won’t get into that.

Linebackers - 8

  1. Melvin Ingram, Denzel Perryman, Manti Te'o, Jerry Attaochu, Kyle Emanuel, Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown, Tourek Williams
  2. Melvin Ingram, Denzel Perryman, Manti Te'o, Jerry Attaochu, Kyle Emanuel, Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown, Tourek Williams
  3. Melvin Ingram, Denzel Perryman, Manti Te'o, Jerry Attaochu, Kyle Emanuel, Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown, Tourek Williams, Ben Gardner

That's right; all three stay the same. I don’t think they have the space to keep anyone else, so they’ll have to hope they can stash at least 2 LBs on the PS. I don’t see the team keeping Nick Dzubnar over their 4th or 5th round picks in Perry and Brown. Both have a much higher upside, despite Dzubnar having more time in the system. Tourek didn’t look terrible in the first game and after leaving the game shortly, he did come back in later, so it doesn’t appear to be a serious injury.

Cornerbacks - 5

  1. Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Steve Williams, Terrell Chestnut
  2. Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Steve Williams
  3. Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Steve Williams

Chestnut was waived/injured and made it onto the IR. Nobody behind these five has shown anything worth keeping them on the active roster for. Pretty much end of the story here, the other five are self-explanatory.

Safeties - 4

  1. Dwight Lowery, Jahleel Addae, Darrel Stuckey, Dexter McCoil, Adrian McDonald
  2. Dwight Lowery, Jahleel Addae, Darrel Stuckey, Adrian Phillips
  3. Dwight Lowery, Jahleel Addae, Darrel Stuckey, Dexter McCoil, Adrian McDonald

This will be the group that makes me mad. Because the team decided to go heavy on OL and DL roster spots, they had to cut somewhere, and this is it. They fail to keep either of the exciting, high upside safeties in favor of keeping Stuckey on special teams and Phillips whom they’ve raved about in practice and has more time with the team. I went the other way. I kept it light on the OL and DL so that I could have five safeties.

Defensive Total - 25 for the Chargers, 25 for me.

Special Teams

  1. Mike Windt, Drew Kaser, Josh Lambo

Not even going to list all three options because this is the only option. It isn’t going to change unless someone gets really hurt.

So there is the 53 I think the Chargers go with at this point. I could see the team adding another veteran, likely on the DL after cuts are made on other teams because the depth there is just awful right now. I will update this one more time early next week; then I’ll do a final prediction after the first round of cuts.

Oh, I almost forgot the practice squad!

Practice Squad - 10

  1. Donavon Clark - G, Vi Teofilo - G, Tyreek Burwell - T, Matt Weiser - TE, Dominique Williams - WR, Dreamius Smith - RB, Chris Landrum - OLB, Trevor Williams - CB, Nick Dzubnar - LB, Tenny Palepoi - DL
  2. Vi Teofilo - G, Tyreek Burwell - T, Dexter McCoil - S, Dominique Williams - WR, Kenneth Farrow - RB, Chris Landrum - OLB, Mike Bercovici - QB, Nick Dzubnar - LB, Spencer Pulley - C, Chris Swain - FB/RB
  3. Vi Teofilo - G, Mike Bercovici - QB, Matt Weiser - TE, Dominique Williams - WR, Kenneth Farrow - RB, Chris Landrum - OLB, Trevor Williams - CB, Nick Dzubnar - LB, Spencer Pulley - C, Tenny Palepoi - DL