With the coaches and players (well… most of them) getting ready to officially start training camp this week it just seems right to get in a roster prediction ahead of time. The majority of the roster seems to be pretty set, with only maybe the final five or six spots really being open for the unexpected. That makes the majority of this fairly straightforward, baring any major surprise or injury of course. Those last spots are what makes this interesting… what positions will they carry an extra player? Will the team continue their impressive streak of undrafted players making the roster? Will there be any surprise cuts?
As always, this is not too early at all and will be definitely be 100% accurate. Let’s hear down below where you feel differently and why. Most importantly, football is here.
Quarterbacks (3) – Philip Rivers, Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick
Not really a huge surprise here with the top two. I’m of the belief that the Chargers now have one of the top backup QBs in the league and am excited to see him in camp. I know there’s some hope out there that instead of keeping three on the roster they would do their best to get Stick on the practice squad. That would be my desired outcome here, but I just don’t think it’s in the cards at this time. The Cardale Jones experiment appears to have an ending in sight.
Running Backs (4) – Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Derek Watt
Of course, this is projecting that the current contract situation with Gordon works out so that he is active and on the roster by the time the season starts. Jackson showed to be well worth the seventh-round selection the team took him with in the 2018 NFL Draft and looks to have a secure spot on this roster. The hard cut here is Detrez Newsome, someone who I fully expect to be the back they keep should Gordon not be around the team for one reason or another.
Wide Receivers (6) – Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Geremy Davis, Artavis Scott, Dylan Cantrell
The team felt good enough about the receivers on this roster to let a home-grown talent like Tyrell Williams walk in the offseason. Without a draft pick or free agent signing this offseason these names should be pretty well-known if you’re reading a roster prediction in July. When you consider the injury history of the group as a whole, I feel carrying six is a must. Tom Telesco said last year that if Scott hadn’t been injured that he had secured a spot on the 53 and I expect that to be the case again this season. Dylan Cantrell’s position could be the one that’s in question as the team could decide to go with only five guys or if one of the other guys stand out. With the traits Cantrell showed in the pre-draft process last season as well as the tape from his college career I’d expect him to be a player the fans are buzzing about throughout camp, assuming he stays healthy this year.
Tight Ends (3) – Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Daniel Helm
There isn’t any question about the top two here. Henry has the potential to be one of the top five guys at his position in the league and Green has a pretty defined role (and a sizeable paycheck). Here’s the undrafted guy making the roster for this season, keeping the streak alive. Sean Culkin is going on his third year with the team and likely has the inside track for this roster spot, but Helm is someone I think will challenge and, as I have here, beating him out for this spot.
Offensive Line (9) – Russell Okung, Dan Feeney, Mike Pouncey, Michael Schofield, Sam Tevi, Trey Pipkins, Scott Quessenberry, Forrest Lamp, Trent Scott
It will be interesting to see which group of five are the starters going into the season, but with Quessenberry’s versatility and Scott showing some ability in limited snaps last season they are my picks to round out the bunch. With a major unknown here being Russell Okung’s injury, as well as the likely restructuring of the current guard situation, it could leave a path to the roster for guys like Cole Toner and Spencer Drango. Additionally, you have the unknowns in the three UDFA’s the team brought in after the draft (Christ Brown, Tanner Volson and Blake Camper). I’m betting on the team going with the guys they know and the potential of their third-round selection in Pipkins over the others I mentioned, but there’s a lot to be ironed out in terms of the reserves heading in to the 2019 season.
Defensive Line (9) – Melvin Ingram, Jerry Tillery, Brandon Mebane, Joey Bosa, Anthony Lanier, Cortez Broughton, Justin Jones, Damion Square, Isaac Rochell
The starting unit from last season returns minus Corey Liuget. In his place, the team will be looking for major contributions from both Justin Jones and Jerry Tillery (third round selection in 2018 and first round selection this year, respectively). Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are cornerstones of this team so the only thing to figure out when it comes to Defensive Ends are the rotational guys. Isaac Rochell saw three starts in 2018 and ended the season with five sacks and one interception. Look for him to continue receiving a lot of time as the primary rotation piece at end. Anthony Lanier was with the team last year, spending time on the 53 man roster though not getting any playing time. He likely is going to see competition from Pat Afriyie who spent 2018 on the practice squad. The reserve Defensive Tackle spots could be very interesting to watch this year with T.Y. McGill, Cortez Broughton, Damion Square and Reggie Howard all vying for two spots. With Square being re-signed and his familiarity with the team I think he has an inside track to one of the spots. McGill was with the team in 2018, but after watching the tape of Cortez Broughton I can’t imagine keeping him off of this roster. He flashes potential to be an impact player on this defense sooner rather than later.
Linebackers (7) – Denzel Perryman, Thomas Davis, Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White, Drue Tranquil, Emeke Egbule, Jatavis Brown
In what should come as a surprise to nobody, the team addressed the linebacker position in a major way after the absolute decimation of the unit in the 2018 season. Through free agency and spending draft capital, a ton of experience as well as potential versatility was added which we all are hoping pays off pretty quickly. Thomas Davis, now 36, will be entering his 15th season and his first as a member of a team not named the Carolina Panthers. Denzel Perryman has proven to be an effective player when healthy, the problem is that last part has been few and far between. The rookie additions to the unit, Drue Tranquil and Emeke Egbule, look to be solid candidates to fill out some holes in this unit. With their addition, the team should be able to move on from Nick Dzubnar who, while solid on special teams, has been an absolute liability on defense to the point that they can’t put him on the field. To have someone taking a roster spot at LB that cannot contribute on defense just isn’t good business. Egbule’s main competition will come from guys like Kyle Wilson and Tre’Von Johnson who both spent time on the roster and practice squad in 2018.
Cornerbacks (5) – Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King, Michael Davis, Brandon Facyson
Casey Hayward, even with 2018 being a step backward from his incredible 2017 season, is one of the better corners in the league and is an unquestioned starter. We all hope to see a bounce back year for Trevor Williams after a disappointing 2018 campaign. The CB was one of the better players at his position in 2017 so we all know the talent is there… needless to say his spot should be pretty secure. Michael Davis played well with as much as he played in 2018 and looks to be very good depth on the outside. Desmond King is already one of the better slot corners in the league and looks to only be getting better. Brandon Facyson spent all of 2018 on the roster after being signed as a UDFA. The promising second year player will be fending off the likes of Arrion Springs, Rodney Randle, Bradford Lemmons and Kemon Hall. Jeff Richards has been with the team the last two seasons and could also be the reason Facyson isn’t on the squad, but I don’t see that happening. The 28 year old journeyman may be on his way out baring a big showing this preseason.
Safeties (4) – Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, Rayshawn Jenkins, Nasir Adderley
Derwin James is a god, so there’s that. Adrian Phillips has been a literal jack of all trades for wherever the team needed to put him. He re-signed with the team on a one year deal and figures to be a role player in one way or another in 2019. Rayshawn Jenkins showed some growth in his second year and will need to continue progressing if he wants to keep his spot beyond 2019. Nasir Adderley is someone who none of us expected to be available when the Chargers were on the clock in the second round. Even if he isn’t the starting guy at FS come preseason, he will be at some point soon. He shows an ability to make plays that you just don’t see everyday and figures to be a perfect pairing with Derwin going forward. Jaylen Watkins was likely going to play a significant role heading in to 2018 until he suffered a season ending injury. Since then the team and position appear to have moved on without him and he could be the odd man out here. Undrafted rookies Adarius Pickett and Roderic Teamer are facing an uphill battle in one of the deepest DB units in the league.
Specialists (3) – Michael Badgley, Tyler Newsome, Mike Windt
Michael Badgley was nothing short of incredible to close out the season in 2018. If you think that is being too generous when speaking about a kicker you must be new around here. Mike Windt is the solid veteran and there’s no reason to assume he won’t be around. The battle here is between Ty Long and Tyler Newsome for the punting duties going forward. Both are new to the team, but it would be hard to be any worse than Donnie Jones was in 2018. In case the other UDFA I have making the team doesn’t make it, Newsome could be that guy to keep the streak alive.