Every team has the obvious cornerstone players, big free agent signings, and even draft picks that everyone will have an eye on. What allows a good team to withstand the marathon of a season is depth. Injuries are and always will be apart of the game. You can have great players at each position, however, as Chargers fans know all too well, if you lack talent in your depth, it will catch up to you.
I won't argue that the number of injuries that piled up the last few years has been absurd. From what I've seen in the five practices I've attended, I’ll give you the names I think are most interesting to watch and that I think will be pivotal in adding the depth that could make the difference this season.
At the safety position, the obvious name to watch would be Tre Boston, who on paper should win the job at free safety — hands down. Not just because the free safety position was one of the biggest weaknesses after Eric Weddle left, but also because he brings a physical style of play that complements Addae and one that Gus Bradley loves to utilize. Nevertheless, I will be focusing on two other names for you.
Rayshawn Jenkins: Jenkins is a rookie from Miami U that the team spent a 4th round pick on. At 6’1” 215 he has the size wanted by new coach Bradley. It has been said recently that he could replace Denzel Perryman on coverage nickel formations. Whether or not this could be a preseason experimental thing or not probably will be determined by he performs. He has his flashy moments where he looks good but also has moments where he appears to take bad angles not just in coverage but also when going for a tackle. As a rookie, he is still raw but could be developed. As a sibling of 17 children you know he must have some fight in him.
Dexter McCoil: Brought in last year from the CFL, the team was hoping to strike gold with a Kam Chancellor-type due to his size, 6'4'' 220. With new defensive coordinator this could be more likely.
The offensive line has had a good share of additions; both through the draft and free agency. Despite the loss of Lamp, the team still has some rookies to look forward to.
Tyreek Burwell: From what it look's like so far in camp, Burwell might be finally coming into his own. He is entering what I like to call the 3rd year blossom year and looked impressive so far in camp. He spent almost his entire college career switching positions nonstop and has spent the last few years developing on the practice squad.
Spencer Pulley: Yet another undrafted free agent lineman, he has been listed as the starting center so it will be interesting to see how he holds the job down....or if, for that matter.
Max Tuerk: This 3rd round pick from a year ago was drafted as a center, however, he was listed as a guard when the depth chart was released. Not just that, I have yet to witness him getting much if any reps at center. He is a very good pulling center so maybe the thought process of making him a guard stems from that.
The Wide Receiver core is deep but more weapon's never hurt. After all, it's better to have a weapon and not need it rather than need it and not have it.
Artavis Scott: Undrafted out of Clemson, some of the targets were taken from him by the injured Mike Williams. Although he is labeled as not having NFL speed or leaping ability, you could have fooled me. In camp, he has been getting open nonstop and I think a shoe-in for the 5th spot on the depth chart.
Mitchell Paige: He will probably have to make the team as a returner but he seems to have all the makings of a productive slot receiver. He seems to get open on every out-route and quick slant.
The one position where I’m concerned with depth is the corner back position. Craig Mager has shown little to prove he’s worth a roster spot, let alone the 3rd round pick that was spent on him. Outside of the starting two corners and rookie nickel back King, it is unknown what is to be expected.
Trovon Reed: one of the few bright spots that came from all the injuries last year was seeing how Reed came out of nowhere and contributed with 2 interceptions. Seeing if he can take the next step will be vital to the team's depth.
Trevor Williams and Randall Evans are two other names that I have seen getting a lot of reps with the first and second team alike as Jason Verrett is being eased back into action. At times, they both look good, and at others they look overmatched by speed, allowing receivers to get over the top of them.
James Onwualu: A rookie out of Notre Dame, he is already listed ahead of Joshua Perry on the depth chart so I'm curious to see if he really has impressed Gus Bradley that much. He is a former wide receiver who converted to defense his freshman year in college. So, the athleticism is there but is he ready to be as high as the second team on the depth chart or is he still too raw?