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Predicting the Chargers’ final 53-man roster ahead of training camp

Let’s take a look once more into my crystal ball.

Los Angeles Chargers Mandatory Minicamp Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Training Camp. Is. Here.

Today, the ball gets rolling all the way into the regular season and I think that means it’s a good time to do another roster prediction.

I believe there’s only minor changes in this one compared to my last prediction, but you just never know how things will shake out with a new coaching staff. As we saw in Anthony Lynn’s first year at the helm, sometimes the players — usually veterans— that you think are safe really aren’t in the end.

At any rate, let’s dive into this prediction, shall we?

Quarterbacks (3): Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick

I’ve seen some predict the team will finally move on Stick this summer but I don’t think that’s the case just year. Stick is a modern-day quarterback and has plenty of off-field traits that make him valuable in the QB room.

Running Backs (4): Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Larry Rountree, Gabe Nabers (FB)

I can’t see the Chargers keeping five running backs in an offense that will likely run plenty of 11 personnel (3 WRs). Ekeler will see time all around the formation so whomever backs him up will likely see additional snaps out of the backfield. I believe Rountree gets the nod over Kelley in the end while the new staff takes one more chance on Justin Jackson.

Nabers is the only fullback on the team so as long as they value that position in the new offense, he’s a lock.

Wide Receivers (5): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson, Josh Palmer

My gut says they keep more than five receivers, but I can’t bring myself to decide on a sixth and this number helps me fit the rest of my predicitons into the 53. Neither K.J. Hill (drops) nor Joe Reed (zero snaps at WR) showed much as rookies to instill confidence in either to snag a roster spot this year.

Tight Ends (4): Jared Cook, Donald Parham, Tre’ McKitty, Stephen Anderson

As a former tight end, I have bias in the importance of this position. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team keep three, but I believe all four create a much more cohesive room with all the necessary skill sets needed for a successful NFL team.

Anderson may be the odd man out, but then the room would be lacking quite a bit of run-blocking ability. This quartet is much more impressive than a potential trio, in my opinion.

Offensive Linemen (9): Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Oday Aboushi, Bryan Bulaga, Trey Pipkins, Brenden Jaimes, Storm Norton, Scott Quessenberry

The Chargers could keep 10 players on the offensive line but I think they can keep nine while maximizing versatility in their backups. Quessenberry can play all three interior positions, Jaimes can play tackle and guard, and both Pipkins and Norton can play either tackle spot.

Defensive Linemen (6): Linval Joseph, Jerry Tillery, Justin Jones, Christian Covington, Breiden Fehoko, Cortez Broughton

Since the team’s base 3-4 front utilizes three interior players instead of two, I think the staff will choose to keep an extra body here for rotational purposes. The final two spots are up for grabs, but I give the edge to Broughton and Fehoko since both saw legitimate game snaps in 2020.

Edge Rushers (5): Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, Kyler Fackrell, Chris Rumph, Jessie Lemonier

I think this group will perform better in 2021 than they initially look on paper. We know what Bosa nad Nwosu can do. Fackrell has shown the ability to make an impact and Rumph is the team’s latest fourth-round pick. Lemonier gets the final spot over Emeke Egbule who is transitioning full-time to the edge for the first time in 2021.

Linebackers (5): Kenneth Murray Jr., Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga

Your top trio of Murray, Tranquill, and White are cemented and the addition of 2021 sixth-round pick Nick Niemann will create a very athletic core of this group. As of this moment, I believe Ogbongbemiga will be the only 2021 UDFA to make the squad with his potential on special teams.

Cornerbacks (5): Chris Harris Jr., Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr., Ryan Smith, Brandon Facyson

In the Chargers’ new defense, the Nickel spot won’t be played solely by Harris or another slot corner. Derwin James will see time in the role, as well, meaning that the team won’t need to keep many bodies here. Smith will be a special teams mainstay and is expected to see time on defense, as well. Both Campbell and Facyson are in contract years and I believe the Bolts go with the younger Facyson for the future.

Safeties (4): Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, Mark Webb

A very shallow position for the Chargers that will only become more drastically so if James finds himself sidelined once more. Gilman and Webb will be the backups but neither hold a candle to the skillset of James. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team add another body here sometime during the season if the group’s depth underwhelms.

Special Teams (3): Tristan Vizcaino, Ty Long, Ryan Langan

The entirety of the special teams unit needed drastic changes and that goes all the way to the actual specialists. With three kickers in camp, expect the competition to be hot. I think Vizcaino wins the job while Langan beats out Cole Mazza, who is also in the final year of his contract. Long should perform better behind a blocking unit that doesn’t occasionally mimic a turnstile.