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Analyzing Every Undrafted Free Agents’ Chances of Making the Los Angeles Chargers Final 53-Man Roster

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Very soon, the Chargers will be forced to trim their roster from 90 players to just 53. Have any of the UDFAs done enough to earn a shot?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After the 2017 NFL Draft had concluded, the Chargers quickly signed 15 UDFAs to fill out their 90 man roster. I wrote one post for Offense, and another for Defense (and Special Teams), analyzing the signings and giving them a chance out of 10 to make the 53 man roster.

Four months later, the Chargers are about ready to announce who’s made it onto the 53 man roster, so I thought it’d be nice to take a look at every UDFA and compare their chances of making the 53 man roster before Training Camp started to their chances now, when they’ve done all they could to earn a spot.

CB Michael Davis

What I said then:

“At least physically, Davis is very much the 'prototype' of what teams are looking for at CB in the modern NFL. Davis has the size, at 6'2, 196 lbs, and has the speed - he ran a 4.34 40 yard dash at his pro day. Realistically, if Davis was any good in coverage, he'd have been drafted with the physical tools that he possesses. Still, he's an intriguing prospect (and probably the fastest man on the Chargers roster right now). He'll definitely get a chance to show what he can do in preseason.”

Chances of making the 53: 3/10

What I say now:

Davis made an instant impression on the Chargers coaching staff, as he was the CB that saw some serious playing time with the 1s in Training Camp while Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward were nursing injuries. You don’t give somebody first team snaps if you don’t plan on keeping them around. Davis had a rough first week of Preseason, but he bounced back well and continued to see playing time with the starting units. He needs to work on his ball skills, but the Chargers would be making a big mistake if they were to release him.

Chances of making the 53: 8/10

LB Nigel Harris

What I said then:

“I'm impressed by Harris. He was a key component of a USF team that went from 2-10 in his freshman year to 11-2 his senior year. He was constantly around the football, and he definitely has the physical skillset to compete in the NFL. This is a Chargers team without a lot of depth at LB, and I could definitely see Harris stealing a roster spot this year.”

Chances of making the 53: 5/10

What I say now:

I still really like Nigel Harris, and the Chargers clearly do too, having given Harris first team reps in both Training Camp and Preseason games. He’s missed a couple of tackles and is another project, but I think the Chargers could feel comfortable with Harris on the roster as a backup LB. This one might depend on if they decide to show the door to Nick Dzubnar. Harris is clearly the better player with higher upside, but it’s not a guaranteed decision.

Chances of making the 53: 6/10

LB James Onwualu

What I said then:

“Onwualu's real strength lies on Special Teams. He was a standout there throughout his Notre Dame career, and his best chance of making the Chargers roster will be if he can displace Nick Dzubnar as the ST stud/LB that the team likes to keep around so much. If he was just an LB, I wouldn't fancy his chances, but that ST value gives him a good shot of making the roster.”

Chances of making the 53: 4.5/10

What I say now:

I’m not convinced. I preferred Harris to Onwualu in May, and he hasn’t done enough to change my mind. The Chargers sitting Onwaulu out in the fourth preseason game is a curious decision, considering he didn’t appear to be injured - either they’ve already decided on him (and you’d have to imagine that would be to release him rather than to keep him around), or are they trying to limit the amount of tape on him so that they can sneak him onto the PS? Either way, he really could have done with the playing time. There’s still a chance he makes this roster, but I think Harris has done more to earn a spot.

Chances of making the 53: 4/10

CB Brandon Stewart

What I said then:

“There's not a lot of information out there about Stewart, and there's next to no tape of him, either, which is a shame. He'll have to make his mark on the Chargers if he wants to show the world what he's about. The Chargers might be slightly lacking in depth at the CB position, but I don't like Stewart's chances of grabbing a spot on the 53. On the Practice Squad, maybe.”

Chances of making the 53: 3/10

What I say now:

Even after an NFL Training Camp and Preseason, I still don’t know anything about Brandon Stewart on the field. I think I saw his #39 jersey one time during the preseason, and that was against the 49ers as I thought “wait, I didn’t think they had a #39.” He’s not making this team.

Chances of making the 53: 0/10

CB Brad Watson

What I said then:

“Interestingly, Watson has been projected as a safety in the NFL, a move which I think suits him best. His coverage on tape was okay, but with a 40-yard time of 4.65, he was always going to struggle to keep up with NFL caliber athletes.

Unfortunately for Watson, the Chargers are actually fairly deep at safety. The team love Adrian Phillips (for whatever reason), Darrell Stuckey will probably stick around to provide ST value, Dexter McCoil is a fan favorite and Adrian McDonald had a strong preseason last year. Watson looked fairly polished on tape, but he's going to have an uphill battle converting to a new position and winning a job there in just a couple of months.”

Chances of making the 53 - 3.5/10

What I say now:

Did anybody see a #4 on defense at any point during Preseason? He definitely didn’t get any action at safety, and I don’t remember him playing corner - if he did, it wasn’t until very late in the fourth quarter, at which point it’d be 4 AM in England and I’d just be praying for the game to end. Watson and Stewart could both be potential adds to the Practice Squad, but the lack of game time they got speaks volumes.

Chances of making the 53 - 0/10.

K Younghoe Koo

What I said then:

“I've never evaluated a kicker before, but I will say this: Josh Lambo did not have a good 2016 season at all. Younghoe Koo must have some pedigree to be one of the few men in the country given the chance at becoming an NFL kicker, and he's been put in a place where he has a real chance to win the job.”

Chances of making the 53: 5/10

What I say now:

Koo didn’t really get much of a chance in Preseason. The Chargers gave him a grand total of one field goal to attempt, and that was from just 27 yards in Week 4. He had some more attempts at kickoffs but just didn’t have the leg strength you look for. (Unless I’m mistaken, Koo had every single one of his kickoffs returned.) Either Lambo had the job won in camp before the first Preseason game, or this wasn’t as open a battle as we’d first thought.

Chances of making the 53: 2/10

TE Sean Culkin

What I said then:

“Culkin isn't the best receiver. Lots of his catches come within 5 yards from the LOS as a safety blanket. He has good hands when the ball does come his way, but he's definitely below par as a receiver - something his 1.3 catches per game in college attest to.

Culkin is a decent blocker - he had a really nice cut block where he took out two DBs at once - but he's not good enough in that area to make up for offering so little in the receiving game. He also probably isn't fast or strong enough to have a huge impact on Special Teams. He has a chance to stick on the Practice Squad for a bit, but there's little chance he ever plays in a game for the Chargers.”

Chances of making the 53: 2/10

What I say now:

Well, I was incredibly wrong about Culkin. He’s a much better player than I gave him credit for, both as a receiver and a blocker. I still wouldn’t call him a receiving TE - that play against the 49ers where he let the ball bounce off his hands for an interception was inexcusable - but he’s definitely competent in that department. He’s been a really strong blocker in Preseason, too, and the team has given him first team reps, both as a blocking TE and in the backfield as an FB.

Will he make the 53 man roster? I can’t tell. There’s a genuine chance he wins the FB job because the team has given him extended looks there and Derek Watt has been less than impressive, but I think they stick with what they know there for now in Watt. Jeff Cumberland and Sean McGrath have both been absent in Preseason due to injuries. Will Lynn and Telesco decide to give one of the veterans the job anyway, or will they reward Culkin’s play in their absence? I genuinely can’t tell with this one.

Chances of making the 53: 5/10

RB Austin Ekeler

What I said then:

“After watching the tape, I really like Ekeler. He's a shifty back with breakaway speed who's very comfortable with catching out of the backfield. The only question is the level of competition - I doubt I watched him compete against a single player even close to having NFL ability, so the tape needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. The Chargers have a lot of bodies in the backfield, but I think Ekeler offers them something they don't have, and he's got every chance of coming in and stealing a roster spot with a good preseason.”

Chances of making the 53: 5/10

What I say now:

If Austin Ekeler doesn’t make this roster, it’s an absolute outrage. He’s been the only one of the reserve backs (not including Branden Oliver, who’s roster spot is secure) to show anything at all in Preseason. Kenjon Barner was brought in to give the return game some spark - he hasn’t done so (he muffed a punt against the 49ers) and hasn’t done much of anything as a runner, either.

Andre Williams was given every chance to win the job by the coaches, but he’s been really poor. They continually put him in the game when the Chargers were in the red zone against the 49ers, and he continually got stopped in the backfield. He doesn’t deserve to make this team. He should probably be even lower on the totem pole than Kenneth Farrow, who suffered an injured ankle earlier in Preseason that’s going to prove costly.

That leaves Austin Ekeler. Ekeler has been everything the other RBs haven’t. He’s a superb athlete, and it translates to his running style. He’s quick, he’s elusive, and he knows how to find the space in a defensive front. If you’re just going off Preseason play alone, Ekeler should be a lock for this roster, and potentially should be pushing Branden Oliver for the #2 job. My worry is that the coaches will prefer to go with a ‘veteran’ than the largely unproven Ekeler. In the Mike McCoy era, that would likely have happened. Anthony Lynn needs to show that he’s not going to make the same mistake. If you waive Ekeler, he’s gone. Another team will happily grab him if the Chargers let him go. It’s time to use him or lose him.

Chances of making the 53: 7/10. I want to believe, but I’m still nervous the Chargers mess this up.

WR Artavis Scott

What I said then:

“Scott does have some nice tools, however. He's a pretty good route runner who makes sharp cuts out of his breaks. He's a very willing blocker, and he's a pretty good one, too. He's also got Special Teams value - probably not as a returner, but he'd definitely make a nice impact on coverage teams. His skills as a receiver aren't going to be enough to crack a deep Chargers WR core (although he could definitely stick on the Practice Squad), so the only real chance he has of making the 53 is with some standout performances on Special Teams.”

Chances of making the 53: 2/10

What I say now:

A lot of Chargers fans really liked Artavis Scott, but it hasn’t happened for him. He’s seen very limited Preseason action, and there’s not a chance he’s going to make the 53. I think he’s a likely Practice Squad candidate, but he just hasn’t been involved enough to even dream of cracking the roster.

Chances of making the 53: 0/10

WR Andre Patton

What I said then:

“Patton is another raw project who'd likely be best served spending a year on the Practice Squad to develop his game (his route running needs a lot of work). I just think the WR group is too crowded for someone this raw to make the 53 this year.”

Chances of making the 53: 3/10

What I say now:

Patton didn’t have the same type of support from Chargers fans that Artavis Scott enjoyed, but he’s in the same boat. His lack of meaningful action in Preseason games means that the writing is very much on the wall.

Chances of making the 53: 0/10

LB Mike Moore, QB Elijah Jenkins, C Dillon DeBoer, WR Dontre Wilson, OT Mason Zandi

These five didn’t get to make it this far. Mike Moore is currently on IR, but I suspect that the team will reach an injury settlement with him when he becomes healthy, and waive him. Eli Jenkins was released when the team traded for Cardale Jones. Dillon DeBoer was placed on IR before being waived, Mason Zandi lasted just five days before being cut, and Dontre Wilson - well, no-one quite knows what happened to him. It was reported that Wilson had signed with the Chargers, but it later transpired that he was no longer with the team, and the Chargers transaction log shows no record of him ever having been signed. This article claims that a problem with his foot cost him a shot with the Chargers. Either way, he - along with the other four - isn't going to make the roster.

Chances of making the 53: 0/10.

WR Mitchell Paige, P Toby Baker, CB Ryan Reid, C/G Barrett Gouger, TE Mike Estes, WR Cameron Posey, TE Matt Weiser, DE Whitney Richardson

These eight were signed after the initial wave of UDFA signings, so I didn’t give an analysis prediction for any of them. I can’t see any of them making the team. Ryan Reid and Mitchell Paige are the most likely to make the Practice Squad.

Collective chance of making the 53: Negligible.