A little over an hour after the waiver deadline, the Chargers officially announced the first 15 players that will be signed to the practice squad.
There are a few surprises, and it should be noted that they are one short of the maximum of 16 players that can be placed on the PS at any time. My guess is there’s a move that will be made in the near future that could involve a new player being signed to the active roster which will drop someone down to the practice squad.
With that being said, the 15 players signed to the practice squad are below, along with some of my thoughts on each.
we've signed 15 to our practice squad. pic.twitter.com/dBPTrCh1px— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 6, 2020
LB Asmar Bilal
I had a feeling Bilal was going to be kept as he fits the mold of what the Chargers like at their WILL linebacker position. He’s athletic at 6’2 and 230 pounds and offers the Chargers immediate help on special teams. He only started 10 games in his career, but played in a total 51 games. He’ll naturally have familiarity with the team as a number of his former teammates reside on the Chargers’ defense, including Drue Tranquill and Jerry Tillery.
RB Darius Bradwell
Bradwell arrived at training camp at tad overweight - almost 20 pounds to be exact - but he did his best to get back down to his playing weight of 235 before being cut on Saturday. Two weeks ago on Hard Knocks, Bradwell said he was down to 242, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s finally back at his goal weight by now. Fun fact: Bradwell actually started his career at Tulane as a quarterback.
CB John Brannon
Brannon played his college ball at Western Carolina where he was teammates with former Chargers running back Detrez Newsome. The lengthy cornerback played 38 games for WCU and finished his senior year as an All-Southern Conference member after picking off a trio of passes with eight pass breakups.
LB Cole Christiansen
Christiansen was a two-time captain for West Point and a two-time All-Independent honoree. He totaled 275 tackles across four seasons to go along with 20.5 tackles-for-loss. He’ll likely be groomed for a special teams role as a predominantly two-down style linebacker.
WR Jeff Cotton
Cotton only played a pair of seasons for the Idaho Vandals, but he made them count. In that span, he finished with 137 catches for 1,797 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s another big-bodied wideout like former UDFA Jason Moore, standing at 6’2 206 pounds.
DT Breiden Fehoko
Everyone’s favorite star from this season of Hard Knocks isn’t going anywhere. Fehoko didn’t just impress the coaching staff with his traditional Haka dance, but he showed promising steps in his technique throughout camp, forcing the coaches to keep him around a but longer. He was a former high-class high school recruit who started his college career playing as a freshman for Texas Tech before making the decision to transfer to LSU where he was a member of this year’s National Championship team. Also, he’s immediately one of the strongest guys on the team.
OG Nate Gilliam
Gilliam was one of the first Chargers to reportedly be considered for the practice squad. He started 28 games for Wake Forest and was named a Third-Team All-ACC selection as a senior. At 6’4 and 310 pounds, he showed a good amount of power at the point of attack when I dove into his film, so I’m not surprised to see the Bolts take a chance on him.
OG/C Ryan Groy
Groy’s first season with the Chargers was 2019 where he appeared in seven games. He has the versatility to play all three interior positions and was called upon to help provide last year when both Mike Pouncey and Forrest Lamp went down with season-ending injuries. He was also a one-time starter for the Bills while Coach Lynn was still in Buffalo back in 2016.
WR Tyron Johnson
A former five-star recruit, Johnson began his college career with the LSU Tigers before transferring to a more wide-open offense at Oklahoma State. He spent last season on the practice squads of Houston, Carolina, and Buffalo before ending up with the Chargers. Coach Lynn and Tyrod Taylor have each spoken highly of “T-Billy” at points this offseason, so don’t be surprised to see him get called up due to injuries at the position.
DE Jessie Lemonier
The second I saw that they signed Lemonier as a UDFA, I knew he was going to be kept at some point as a developmental LEO. He’s 6’2 and roughly 240-245 pounds, which is the prototypical size for the position. He was a sack artist for the Liberty Flames, finishing with 20.5 sacks in two seasons and earning Defensive MVP honors in the team’s bowl game against Georgia Southern.
CB Quenton Meeks
A former standout for the Stanford Cardinal, Meeks went undrafted in 2018 but ended up signing with the Jaguars where he started a single game and played in seven more. He spent most of last season on the Chargers’ practice squad and I could see the same thing happening this season. He’s also the son of former Chargers defensive backs coach Ron Meeks.
FB Gabe Nabers
After the Chargers cut fellow UDFA fullback Bobby Holly, I thought Nabers was 100% going to make the final 53. However, he’s here now on the practice squad but I don’t see that lasting long. I can’t see how the team goes into their Week 1 matchup with the Bengals without an actual fullback on the roster. Either way, I’d still say Nabers has “won” the fullback competition with his equally impressive blend of blocking and pass-catching ability.
DT TJ Smith
At Arkansas this past season, Smith wasn’t even the best defensive tackle on the team, but he was a two-year starter who played in 40 total games. He’s more of a traditional nose tackle than the most of the other tackles on this roster, who liken closer to penetrating 3-techniques.
C Cole Toner
A former fifth-round pick of the Cardinals, Toner has hung around the Chargers over the last couple years as emergency depth along the offensive line that can play all three interior positions in a pinch.
CB Donte Vaughn
Vaughn’s placement on the practice squad tells me the coaching staff believes he’s got a chance to develop after being a non-starter during his final year at Notre Dame. He’s 6’2 3⁄4 and over 210 pounds, which checks the box for the height and weight that Gus Bradley loves to have at the position.