The undrafted free agent out of Arizona State, Mike Bercovici, may be the least objectionable backup quarterback on the roster. He separates himself from Kellen Clemens and Zach Mettenberger by going through his progressions then actually releasing the ball.
Mettenberger, in particular, takes far, far too long to get rid of the ball. He will have a running back open for an easy five yard gain, but he'll stand there patting the ball, then make a late throw over the middle. This has the effect of resulting in a "hospital ball" where he hangs his receiver out to dry or in an easy interception (like the one the defense returned some 90 yards on Saturday). This tendency could be credited (blamed?) to his collegiate offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. That offense was all about pushing the ball downfield, unlike the Ken Whisenhunt system that is focused on taking the easy underneath gains all day long.
Clemens, meanwhile, is simply mediocre. His footwork is bad and it hurts his ability to deliver the ball where he wants to put it. He's a known quantity (which this coaching staff loves), but that quantity is not good. You'd rather see the Chargers keep someone with potential.
Ultimately, the quarterback battle probably comes down to whoever Philip Rivers would rather have in the meeting room, though. And regardless, if he misses any substantial time, it won't matter who they kept because they'll be screwed.
Melvin Gordon keeps getting looks at returning kicks. Frankly, I really like it. It's an opportunity to get him going early in games. And, it will force him to be more decisive. Maybe that carries over to his running back snaps. It's worth trying because he needs to improve there if he's going to have a successful career.
Tyrell Williams has the physical ability to make impact plays in the NFL. His inconsistent hands are a real concern, though. If Rivers can't count on him to make the catches he should, that's going to hurt his ability to contribute in a meaningful way. Hopefully, it's something he can iron out; hopefully, it's just a matter of focus.
Branden Oliver's change of direction ability is really outstanding. He doesn't appear to lose any speed whatsoever. And for a guy with his agility, his natural inclination to just get upfield and pick up the yards that are there is unusual. He might be the most talented overall running back on the team. And, he never puts the ball on the ground. You shouldn't discount how important that is.
If the Chargers carry five wide receivers on the 53-man roster heading into the regular season, right now I firmly believe those five should be Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, James Jones, Tyrell Williams, and Isaiah Burse. On that note, Burse has been the most pleasant surprise of training camp. He has clearly passed Dontrelle Inman and Javontee Herndon on the depth chart. All aboard the #Bursewagon.
Jeff Cumberland just keeps abusing the second and third team defense. He is making a case that he deserves to see playing time even with Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry ahead of him.
Speaking of Henry, he is simply unreal. I don't think he's dropped a ball yet. Rookie tight ends are almost never productive and it's unfair to assume he will buck that trend, but everything I've seen from him says that he is ready to produce now.
Gates remains unfair. He has lost whatever speed he used to have. Defenders frequently appear to have good coverage on him. But then he finds a way to get that extra step or shield the defender or simply make an unbelievable catch in triple coverage. He is so technically sound and has veteran savvy for days. I hope he plays until he's 50.
I don't know why the Chargers don't like Ryan Carrethers. He can't seem to get above third on the depth chart. But whenever I watch him play or practice, I'm impressed. Whatever the issue is, it doesn't seem to manifest itself on the football field. I hope they find a way to let him play more snaps.
Brandon Flowers no longer has top-end speed necessary to stay with fast wide receivers. However, his short area burst is still there and his ability to read and react is excellent. Keep him off the opposing team's deep threats and profit.
Matt Slauson really helps you appreciate how bad Trevor Robinson was. He's very solid and you can tell how much easier the guards' jobs are now. Orlando Franklin should have a much better season thanks to the addition of Slauson.
Josh Perry is even slower than I thought he was. Jatavis Brown is even faster. Both look like positive additions to the defense.
Dexter McCoil is my favorite player to watch on defense. He always seems in position to make a play on the ball or lay a big hit. He's also the tallest guy on the defense most of the time and that's just really enjoyable to watch. I hope he finds his way onto the final 53 because there's all sorts of potential there.