The Los Angeles Chargers took a devastating blow last week during their 23-23 loss to the Denver Broncos. With the team now starting fresh following a five-game win streak, Los Angeles looks to bounce back against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. With a poor offensive line, limited weapons and a young quarterback still learning the ropes, this should be an easy win for the Bolts should the offense click.
Following Arizona, the Chargers will have a slew of games that could decide their playoff status should they fall short. With matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and a season finale against Denver, Los Angeles could find themselves missing out on the playoffs once again. It’s great to see the offense finding success but the defensive injuries could cost the team a spot in January down the stretch.
There’s two ways to look at this. On one hand, Los Angeles will be picking high in the draft and still have a majority of their core players in tact for the 2019 season. On the other hand, Chargers fans will riot and protest until everyone is gone, the team moves back to San Diego and rebuilds so they can finally have reasons to complain about being a terrible franchise.
Knowing the comment sections and the criticism writers get on a daily basis covering the team, it’s safe to say that if Anthony Lynn’s squad doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl, plan B is the likely way to go. Either way, the Chargers are in an uphill climb, but not out of the water just yet.
With Week 12 of College Football in motion, this is the best week to see players who could make the jump to the NFL next season. Rivalry week is one of the biggest spectacles in sports due to players and teams giving their best efforts to hold bragging rights for the next year. For a scout, it’s truly a dream to see these players biggest strengths and weaknesses to later evaluate down the road.
Since fans will have to wait for Sunday to see if the Bolts can get back on the right track, let’s take a look at some of the biggest names to watch for this weekend come kickoff. Again, there’s going to be a quarterback in this list for the long-term future so leave the ‘Philip Rivers wants to play until 2020’ comments down below.
Notre Dame LB Te’Von Coney vs. USC
The Chargers lost their leader in the middle Denzel Perryman to a season-ending LCL sprain against the Oakland Raiders. Even if Perryman does resign with the team in the off season to a one-year deal, the Chargers need a linebacker for the long-term future. While Jatavis Brown is showing growth at linebacker, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to find the success back on the outside next season should Perryman return. Rookie linebacker Kyzir White showed promise as the team’s WILL backer before heading to the IR following knee surgery.
In the last installment of BB, Coney did not make the list due to the fact he deserved his own feature. Excellent size and great athletic traits, Coney’s 240 frame would allow him to find success as either a MIKE or SAM backer at the next level. A superb tackler who flies to the ball and uses his speed to close outside gaps, Coney is a high productive tackler that will eliminate the run and produce multiple stops for a defense. While his overall coverage skills need some work, Coney is a solid linebacker who can produce with any front seven.
Perhaps not a day 1 pick, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco should have his eyes on the young Irish linebacker somewhere on day 2. Coney’s overall skills would mesh well in Gus Bradley’s defense moving forward.
Michigan CB Lavert Hill vs. Michigan
Trevor Williams is in a restricted free agent contract this season and could walk at the end of season. There’s reason to believe he would as well as the young cornerback has already been replaced by Michael Davis. Casey Hayward is 29 and will be 32 when his contract expires. Jason Verrett would have to come back on a minimal contract deal following another season-ending injury and his inability to remain healthy. Perhaps no longer the biggest need, it’s still a major need for the Bolts to address in the offseason.
In ‘The Game’, there’s always a plethora of NFL talent knocking at the door and waiting to make their way to the next level. While not the biggest corner in the league, Hill’s skills on the outside are relevant thanks to his mirror skills at the line of scrimmage and initial quickness. A strong physical defender, the 5-11 cornerback has the ability to shut down receivers early and make them immobile down the field.
With the ability to cause breakups in coverage and force turnovers, the Wolverine cornerback would be a nice addition to the Chargers secondary as a day 2 pick. His size will come into question but his overall skills in man coverage should merit him a decent draft spot.
Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards vs. Minnesota
The Chargers will have to decide if Perryman is worth bringing back next season. While he’s been promising in his starts as the team’s middle linebacker, the young linebacker has yet to play in a full season since being drafted out of Miami. Sure, there’s promise in young players such as White and Uchenna Nwosu, but depth is key for the long-term due to the number of injuries that have piled up over the course of the past two seasons.
Edwards is not getting enough attention since the Badgers have struggled to keep themselves relevant this season. Still, the redshirt senior linebacker still has been productive on the outside for the team’s defense. A solid tackler with great numbers (85 tackles in 2018), Edwards does a stand up job closing the gap and eliminating the run to the outside. Great awareness in open space, Edwards is best defending the run and shooting the gaps to stuff defenders behind the line of scrimmage.
Although limited in coverage, Edwards would be a nice option to consider on the outside. Overall, he’ll need to work on his agility but should find success as a run stopper for the team’s front seven. He’s a nice third-round option for Telesco and his staff to look at.
Auburn DT Derrick Brown vs. #1 Alabama
Defensive line went from an average need to a massive one following Sunday’s action. With Corey Liuget out for the season, the defensive tackle might be released after the season to save the team some cap space. Rookie Justin Jones will need to show the remainder of the season that he is more than a rotational player and could be a starter. Meanwhile, Brandon Mebane is in a contract year while staring down his 34th birthday.
If the Chargers going to wait to address the defensive line need until day 2, Brown could be the pick that makes the most sense. In fact, if he finds success against the Crimson Tide’s offense, he should easily be the pick. A bull rusher up the middle, Brown’s size and speed allows him to overpower single-man blocking sets and stuff running backs behind the line. Good speed off the snap, the Auburn defender possess great hands and the ability to shuck lineman out of his way to find clean openings towards the ball.
While a bit inconsistent with his pad level and level of production, Brown would be a solid 1-tech in the NFL. Should the team elect to wait to draft a long-term option up the middle, the SEC standout might be best option later on in the draft.
WR David Sills V vs. #7 Oklahoma
The Bolts do not need a receiver at the moment. That could all change in the offseason should Tyrell Williams walk towards a big pay. Travis Benjamin is all but looking for his next home after this season struggles and the Bolts could see a return of Artavis Scott to replace his minimal production. With Keenan Allen being the solid possession receiver and Mike Williams turning into a potential red zone threat, the Bolts could consider using a mid-round pick on another receiver should Williams find a new home.
While other receivers do a fantastic job using their speed or frame to find ways to get open, Sills doe a little bit of everything to be productive for the Mountaineers offense. His 6-4 frame allows him to win battle against smaller receivers while his speed and agility can help him work upfield against defenders. Working upfield, Sills has the ability to cross defenders feet and use his frame to climb up the ladder and win in contested catches.
While limited in his routes due to West Virginia’s style of offense, Sills has the size, speed and ability to be a viable target in any offense. Should he click with Rivers as he has with Will Grier, the former top quarterback prospect could become a top target for the Bolts offense.
N.C. State QB Ryan Finley vs. UNC
At the end of the day, Rivers can’t play forever. He’s soon to be 37-years-old and eventually will begin to digress. While he’s having a fantastic season, Sunday’s loss to Denver proved that the potential Hall of Fame quarterback is beginning to decline overall. Sure, he might have two years left but the Chargers should be in playoff contention during those times. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Georgia’s Jake Fromm won’t be available when the Bolts are on the clock.
The Chargers have had success with one Wolfpack quarterback, why not double down? Finley is a weird prospect due to his numbers might outweigh his intangibles at the next level. While he’s thrown for over 3000 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, Finley’s arm strength is average at best and can’t extend pat midfield. His experience under center will allow him to keep drives alive, but his overall decision making might cost his team a touchdown down the stretch. While an accurate quarterback with slot receivers and running backs, his arm tends to drift the deeper downfield he progresses.
Still, Finely’s six-year college career has shown promise both at Boise State and in Raleigh. He might not be a great starter, but the team could use a potential backup should something happen to Rivers. If so, Finley should fill in fine for the short-term.