Up today, the tight ends.
The starters: Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates
The backups: Sean McGrath, Jake McGee, Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland
What they need: A replacement for Antonio Gates after this season
In Henry and Gates, the Chargers have one of the most dangerous tight end duos in the National Football League. And in Henry specifically, they have one of the few complete tight ends in football as he is actually a capable and willing blocker in addition to being a talented receiving option. For years, Chargers fans have been wondering if the Chargers would be able to replace the future Hall-of-Famer and it appears they have done it by adding Henry.
Now, the Chargers are tasked with replacing Gates again but this time as a secondary receiving option. There are a lot of tight ends on the depth chart behind him, but none of them are players you want to rely on during the regular season. McGrath, McGee, Cleveland and Cumberland all bring at least the suggestion of some quality of a professional tight end (Cumberland more than the other three) but they are depth players. They are guys that won’t kill you if they have to play, but they also are not going to win you any football games.
There are a lot of athletic tight ends with advanced receiving skills in the draft this year and based on the way the game is changing it is likely there will be most years moving forward. If there is one in this class that the coaching staff is fond of, the Chargers should consider selecting him because Gates’ career is winding to a close and there is no benefit to waiting on a replacement.