Let’s take a look at all of the active roster players for the Chargers and determine which positions need to get a little shot of youth this offseason.
Quarterbacks (Average age: 34)
The Quarterback room is made up of Philip Rivers (35), Kellen Clemens (33) and Mike Bercovici (24). With the only active quarterbacks being Rivers and Clemens, it is clear that the Chargers need to add someone who will (at the very least) challenge for the backup spot. Someone who has had some time to sit would be a good add, with my favorite being Brett Hundley, the 3rd year QB out of UCLA. In 2015 during the preseason, he completed 69.2% of his passes, 65 attempted, for 630 yards, 7 TDs, and only 1 INT. This was good for a 129.6 passer rating. Hundley is still young and will be 24 by the time the season starts. He will only sit and rot on the Packers bench behind generational talent Aaron Rodgers, who has no appearance of slowing down at all. Hundley may cost a 2nd or 3rd round pick (originally a 5th round pick despite being seen as a fringe 1st/2nd round pick by most who evaluated him), but has already been groomed for a pro-style offense, and wouldn’t cost a whole lot to re-sign in two seasons. The Chargers would be able to get rid of Clemens and Bercovici and focus on other positions in the draft. If the Chargers wanted to instead use that pick on a QB in the draft, they could trade down in the 1st round, or back into the 1st round for stellar prospect, Patrick Mahomes.
Running Backs (Average age: 24.33)
This group is a young group. Led by pro-bowler Melvin Gordon (24), Branden Oliver (25), and Derek Watt (24), it may be one of the youngest groups in the NFL. Melvin Gordon had a phenomenal season last year, racking up over 1400 yards on the ground and through the air, with 12 TDs and only 2 fumbles. This outstanding production basically happened in only 12 games this season. Branden Oliver has shown he can handle the reigns as a backup, with his biggest season rushing for 582 yards and 3 TDs in 2014, adding 271 yards and a TD through the air as well. Derek Watt (who is supposed to be) a solid receiving fullback (while not showing much as a blocker) is okay in a pinch. Add in electric return man out of Oregon, Kenjon Barner, (26) and bruising back Andre Williams (24), who rushed and received for 850 yards and 7 TDs in one season with the Giants, and Kenneth Farrow who accumulated 262 rushing and receiving yards last season, and you have a very capable backfield. The only thing that this group could use is a dependable receiver out of the backfield, but it will be hard to justify a high pick on someone who may only see the field on third downs.
Wideouts (Average age: 26)
Keenan Allen (24) is the crown jewel of this group, followed by Tyrell Williams (25), Travis Benjamin (27), and Dontrelle Inman (28). All four guys have received for at least 810 yards and 4 TDs at some point in their careers. Keenan Allen is the sure-handed, polished route runner of the group, followed by the blinding speed of Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, with Dontrelle Inman bringing up the rear as arguably one of the most dependable WR4s in the league. After the 4 on the active roster, the Chargers have Isaiah Burse (25), Geremy Davis (25), Da’Ron Brown (25), Javontee Herndon (25), and Jamaal Jones (24), and the wide receiver group is also fairly young. There are rumblings that the Chargers will probably look to the draft for a big bodied guy to take over the #1 spot should Keenan Allen once again be injured, and to more than likely bump Inman off of the team, placing Tyrell Williams and Benjamin as the #3 and 4 receivers to take the top off the defense instead of being out there every single play. Sources say the Chargers will take a long look at players like Mike Williams and Corey Davis early in the draft to fill that spot. Getting rid of Stevie Johnson (30) showed the Chargers are looking to giving younger guys the opportunities to develop and shine.
Tight Ends (average age: 29)
Led by future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates (36) and budding star Hunter Henry (22), the Chargers will most likely have a vacant starting spot across from Henry when Gates probably retires after next season. Sean McGrath (29) only had 2 receptions the whole season as the #3 TE and looks to compete with Jeff Cumberland (29) for that spot. Asante Cleveland (25), and Jake McGee (25) will more than likely not get any more than a few snaps next season, and there’s a good chance neither of them makes the roster, should the Chargers pick someone up. I would say it is most likely for the Chargers to replace Gates during next season’s draft, as there are more pressing needs (and any guy they draft this season would see barely any time on the field). Even when Gates retires, Hunter Henry has shown he is more than capable of carrying the load and led all NFL TEs with 8 TDs last season.
Offensive Line (average age: 28)
Starters are Russell Okung (29), Orlando Franklin (29), Matt Slauson (31), question mark, and Joe Barksdale (28). If second-year man out of USC, Max Tuerk (23) has made enough progress (as expected), he and Matt Slauson will more than likely take over the starting C and RG slots, as both have played both positions at one point or another. A dark horse candidate could be Donavon Clark (24), who spent his rookie season injured, but impressed many during the last offseason. Behind these guys are household names such as Tyreek Burwell (25), Kenny Wiggins (28), Spencer Pulley (24), and Chris Hairston (27). The Chargers desperately need to inject youth into this group, as all but one projected starter was a free agent pick up at one point. Tom Telesco obviously needs to invest more draft capital into this group, as he’s only used 3 picks in the top 3 rounds throughout his time with the Chargers on offensive linemen. 2 of those could be labeled as busts (Chris Watt, and DJ Fluker) and neither are still with the team, and one has yet to play a snap due to an injury sustained before the draft (Max Tuerk). Unfortunately, there is no elite talent in this draft, otherwise many of us would be clamoring for the Chargers to grab an O-lineman with their first pick, as it is arguably their biggest position of need. There is a chance guys like Ryan Ramczyk or Garrett Bolles could fall to the 2nd round and give this position a little jolt of competition. Seeing as this group didn’t play very well last season, and there are two open spots from last season, the Chargers will be looking in the draft for someone to fill in day one.