Here it is. The first edition of the Chargers’ 53-man roster. There’s plenty of time for things to change as teams pick up players off of waivers over the next day or so, but this is where the team stands as I’m typing this.
I’ll make notes as we go about who I was right and wrong about compared to my most-recent predictions, as well.
Quarterbacks (3): Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert, Easton Stick
I expected them to keep all three and that’s exactly what happend. Taylor is your starter while Herbert waits for his inevitable turn to take the reins. Stick continues to be a great locker room presence and a tool-sy developmental player at the position.
Running Backs (3): Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley
I thought there could have been a chance for this team to keep an extra running back due to Jackson’s injury history, but they’re standing pat with their top three guys at the position. Expect all three to play every week with Jackson and Kelley jockeying for snaps as the year goes on.
Wide Receivers (6): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, Jason Moore
Say hello to the new $80 million-dollar man in Keenan Allen. He leads a group of young pass-catchers into a season where many of them will have to step up faster than expected.
One of the team’s biggest surprise cuts of the weekend was Darius Jennings, who was going to potentially double as the team’s punt returner. However, it seems that Desmond King has retained that role while rookie K.J. Hill has shown enough promise to be the backup plan there should King struggle with drops once again. With Jennings gone, Moore becomes the team’s sixth wide receiver after recording a pair of catches last season. At 6’3 and 210+ pounds, he offers the team a physical presence with upside as a red zone threat. He caught 39 touchdowns during his career at Division II Findlay University (Ohio).
Tight Ends (4): Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Donald Parham, Stephen Anderson
Keeping four tight ends was a bit of a surprise. I expected them to keep three with Parham being that final guy but it looks like the staff has been impressed by both players that they decided it wasn’t worth risking either getting vultured off of waivers.
Anthony Lynn has said that he has been impressed at the blocking ability of both Parham and Anderson. That’s great news to hear from two players who were widely known as just receiving threats.
With a chance the team makes a move for a safety post-final cuts, this is a position to watch for a necessary transaction to add another defender.
Offensive Linemen (10): Sam Tevi, Dan Feeney, Mike Pouncey, Trai Turner, Bryan Bulaga, Trey Pipkins III, Forrest Lamp, Scott Quessenberry, Storm Norton, Tyree St. Louis
I almost nailed this position but I actually had the team keeping Ryan Groy over Tyree St. Louis. The starting five is as expected. Some may be surprised to see Trent Scott get cut in favor of former XFL tackle Storm Norton, but if you’ve been paying attention to words of the coaches, you’d know he’s been having a heck of a camp. Remember, he was graded by Pro Football Focus as the best offensive linemen in the XFL through the five games the league managed to complete.
This is another position to watch for cuts in case the team decides to pounce on a free agent safety. Normally, this team wouldn’t keep five tackles, so Norton and St. Louis aren’t out of the woods just yet.
Defensive Tackle (5): Linval Joseph, Justin Jones, Jerry Tillery, Cortez Broughton, Damion Square
This was a fairly easy position to predict, along with the defensive ends. Besides Joseph, we’ve known that Jones is the starter at 3-technique and Tillery has been rotating in there with the 1s, as well. Square has been a key piece of the rotation for years now and Broughton has upside who played mainly with the 2s in training camp.
Defensive Ends(4): Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Uchenna Nwosu, Isaac Rochell
The Chargers aren’t super deep here, but they don’t need to be. This position has two depth players sitting with the defensive tackles in Square and Tillery.
The starters and a backup for both the LEO and base end positions is all you need here.
Linebackers (6): Kenneth Murray Jr., Drue Tranquill, Denzel Perryman, Nick Vigil, Kyzir White, Emeke Egbule
This is one of the deepest and most-talented group that the Chargers have had at linebacker in quite some time. They’ve got a starter and a primary backup for the MIKE, WILL, and SAM/OTTO positions while most of the group can play more than one position. If they’re bitten buy the injury bug this year, they have the bodies to not skip a beat.
I was really hoping they would keep Malik Jefferson on the 53, but that wasn’t in the cards. I expect him to land on the practice squad since he’s been a favorite of the staff since he came out in the 2018 draft.
Cornerbacks (6): Casey Hayward Jr., Chris Harris Jr., Desmond King, Michael Davis, Brandon Facyson, Tevaughn Campbell
I had a feeling they were going to keep an extra cornerback with Derwin James being placed on IR but I didn’t expect it to be Campbell. He spent the end of the season on the active roster so it’s not all that surprising in the end. I would have preferred Quenton Meeks, but Campbell offers CFL experience and showed success at that level.
Hayward and Harris are your likely starters in base with Michael Davis rotating in opposite Hayward while in sub-packages. Expect King to play both slot corner and safety this season as the team uses a group effort to fill the void left by James.
Safeties (3): Rayshawn Jenkins, Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman
The Chargers chose to keep only three safeties but my money is on the team signing a veteran within the next 36 hours. Former Charger Jaylen Watkins got waived by the Texans so there’s a potential reunion right there.
Rayshawn and Nasir will be the team’s starters on the back end. They both have the versatility to play near the line of scrimmage and as a single-high safety which will help mitigate the lack of true depth at the position.
There’s even a chance for Gilman to see some time, but I expect his impact to stay mainly on special teams.
Special Teams (3): Michael Badgley, Ty Long, Cole Mazza
No surprises here. The team decided against any competition at any of the special teams spot this offseason.