Cuts are already starting to roll in from across the league. All teams have to go from 90 players down to 53 by 4PM EST on Saturday. I haven’t seen any cuts reported from the Chargers yet so I figured I’d take one last shot at a 53 man roster.
Quarterback - 2 - Philip Rivers, Geno Smith
This has been pretty apparent all offseason. Rivers was never a question, and throughout the whole offseason Geno Smith has been the best of the rest. I still don’t want him starting any games, but he’s the best QB not named Philip Rivers on the roster. My only concern here is that Anthony Lynn’s love/loyalty to Cardale Jones makes the team keep 3 QBs.
Running back - 3 - Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Detrez Newsome
Gordon has always been a lock and in my opinion so has Ekeler. Both looked pretty good in preseason. But the star of the RB group this preseason was UDFA Detrez Newsome. Newsome has made the most of every single touch, including on special teams. The Chargers got great performances from all of their RBs this preseason with the exception of 7th round pick Justin Jackson who was hurt for the whole preseason and only got a handful of snaps last night. He did close the game with a very nice run, but hopefully he’s still enough of an unknown that the team can stash him on the practice squad.
Fullback - 1 - Derek Watt
Not much to say here. He didn’t shoot himself in the foot, well maybe he winged his pinky toe with the fumble, but he definitely didn't look bad enough to cut, and rookie Anthony Manzo-Lewis didn’t have enough snaps to make the Chargers think twice about it.
Tight End - 3 - Virgil Green, Sean Culkin, Antonio Gates
Green and Culkin established themselves this preseason, but it is a giant chasm behind them. Tom Telesco said during the broadcast last night that he doesn’t think they are set at TE for week 1. There is only one real answer for someone who can come in and contribute on that short notice and it’s Antonio Gates. I expect he will be a Charger again before Tuesday.
Offensive line - 9 - Russell Okung, Dan Feeney, Mike Pouncey, Michael Schofield, Joseph Barksdale, Forrest Lamp, Sam Tevi, Spencer Pulley, Scott Quessenberry
The starting offensive line looked great while they were out there this preseason. With the team bring Lamp along slowly I think Schofield remains the starting RG for a week or 2 into the season. Both Pulley and Quessenberry can play all the interior positions, which is helpful. Quessenberry didn’t look particularly good this offseason, but Cole Toner had an awful final game last night so Quessenberry being a 5th round pick probably has a slight edge there. Sam Tevi didn’t look great either, in fact he looked pretty bad. However, he’s the next best tackle the team has and has starting experience with the team. The team probably also feels that both Lamp and Schofield can play tackle if needed as well. This is the best this group has looked in years and it’s pretty exciting.
Wide Receiver - 6 - Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Geremy Davis, Dylan Cantrell (JJ Jones)
The first 3 names there have been locks from the get go. Travis Benjamin has looked good enough this offseason, especially in practice, to not warrant cutting. Geremy Davis has been in a fierce competition with Artavis Scott all offseason for the WR5 spot and unfortunately he’s going to win by default after Scott got injured last night in the final preseason game. We don’t know what the injury is yet, but it looked really bad and he’s probably headed for the IR. That’s not to say Davis didn’t earn the spot, he definitely looked very good this preseason. So now for that 6th spot. I think the Chargers probably roll with 6 WRs and I think here’s what they hope they can pull off. Dylan Cantrell is WR6 until Monday, they have to do this because being a rookie they have to have him on the roster for the start of the season, THEN they can IR him. After they IR him, I think if JJ Jones wasn’t claimed by anyone, they bring him back as a return specialist. He looked fantastic returning both kicks and punts this preseason. RB Detrez Newsome also had a great return last night so the team might feel between Benjamin, King, Ekeler, and Newsome they are fine, but I feel like thats unnecessary risk and Jones is worth a spot on the roster.
Offense total - 24
Defensive Line - 9 - Joey Bosa, Brandon Mebane, Darius Philon, Melvin Ingram, Damion Square, Steven Richardson, Chris Landrum, Issac Rochelle, Justin Jones,
Liuget doesn’t count against the roster until his suspension is up so he’s a freebie. The starting line is ok, but as most of us here at BFTB have been saying, I think the team needs to release Mebane and sign Johnathan Hankins. Mebane has not looked very good this preseason and the starting defense did not look very good against the run as a result. Steven Richardson definitely earned a spot and has looked like probably the best interior defensive lineman on the roster and definitely the best against the run. Rochelle has slimmed down and looks good. Landrum blew up last night with a pretty dominant performance against the 49ers backups so he stays. We haven’t seen Justin Jones play in a game yet, but he was a 3rd round pick by the team a few months ago, so he’s not going anywhere.
Linebackers - 7 - Denzel Perryman, Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White, Kyle Emanuel, Jatavis Brown, D’Juan Hines, Hayes Pullard
Perryman is the only player who was a lock and actually played like they deserved it. Jatavis Brown and an AWFUL preseason but I think he probably stays with hopes he can bounce back. Kyle Emanuel was up and down this preseason, but they moved him around a lot to multiple LB positions and he handled that well. The draft picks Nwosu (2nd) and White (4th) both looked outstanding this preseason and figure to be heavily in the rotation. Hayes Pullard isn’t my favorite, but he’s played very well this preseason. Shockingly well actually and he’s not going anywhere. This is the first place where I’m picking a guy that I dont think the team will actually keep, but they should. I think D’Juan Hines, snap for snap, outplayed Nick Dzubnar this preseason both on defense and on special teams. Hines also has much higher upside athletically. He earned a spot in my opinion.
Corners - 6 - Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King, Michael Davis, Craig Mager, Brandon Facyson
The first 4 names here are pretty obvious. CB5/6 is SHOULD be a hard choice for the team. Mager was drafted here but has looked like his normal meh self all preseason. UDFA Brandon Facyson looked good overall and I think he is definitely going to warrant some discussion there. As long as the team doesn’t carry 3 QBs or 2 Kickers, I feel like this is a very good use of that roster spot. I feel like Jeff Richards warrants a stash on the practice squad, as does UDFA Tony Brown. Both Richards and Brown are very good on ST and against the run, but could use some more time and reps in pass pro to improve there.
Safety - 4 - Derwin James, Jahleel Addae, Adrian Phillips, Rayshawn Jenkins
The team still has some tinkering and figuring out to do as far as the rotation and where these guys will play, but overall this is a decent group. With the pass rush and Corners this team has, it will make up for some of the fact that there isn’t really a true FS in this group. But this is definitely the best safety group this team has had in a long time.
Defense overall - 26
Special Teams - 3 - K Caleb Sturgis, P Drew Kaser, LS Mike Windt
Windt will be here for probably 9-10 more years at LS. Drew Kaser outplayed Shane Tripucka. That leaves kicker. We had a legitimate kicking competition, although I wish the 2nd/3rd team offense would have performed well enough to get them more than 6 total FG tries this preseason. Sturgis finished 2 for 3, while Roberto Aguayo finished 3 for 3. However, the team threw decent money at Sturgis and will likely feel more comfortable looking back at Sturgis’ career performance. Especially compared to Aguayo’s. But this one was close enough, and Aguayo played well enough that I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if he’s the choice.
And there you have it. There’s my last stab at a 53. I’ll probably wind up being wrong by a handful of names, especially considering we don’t know who will be dropped from other teams that the Chargers will want to pick up. I bet the roster changes by 3-5 people between the cut deadline on Saturday and kickoff next Sunday.
Who do you have making it?