Alright, everyone. Thanks a ton to everyone who submitted questions for the mailbag. There were a zillion questions about the kickers so I tried not to beat that dead horse by answering all of them.
I answered one below, but it’s safe to say that all three kickers failed their first test on Sunday. This Saturday’s first preseason game will hopefully include one of them creating some distance from the others.
Let’s dive right in.
“Way too early draft question. What position groups are projected to be the strongest in the 2022 NFL draft? Do you feel as though our current DL can over achieve this year or is it time to finally draft a true DT stud? As always your work is appreciated Michael.” - (IBlueIDream from BFTB)
You’re correct that it’s awfully early for a draft question but I personally always love looking ahead at next year’s class. Unfortunately, I haven’t done enough research at this point to really get a good sense of the 2022 group so this is all based on little knowledge.
If I had to give the nod to a position group, I actually think the cornerbacks will be one of, if not the best, in the draft. It’s headlined by LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., Florida’s Kaair Elam, and Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner. All big-time playmakers in their own right.
I believe both Justin Jones and Jerry Tillery are young enough that they still have the chance to turn their careers around, but they’re nearing the end of that window. To me, if a player doesn’t flash something within the first three seasons, their chance of becoming an impact player in the NFL greatly diminishes. Yes, there are late bloomers in this league, but the chances aren’t necessarily in their favor at the moment.
“Do the Chargers have a kicking coach? Seems like it might be worth it to have an old pro who can mentor a kicker, rather than bring in leg after leg who looks bad - but might become a pro bowler under different circumstances.” - (LJonesBigHandsKelcherDean from BFTB)
As far as the team has made known, the only special teams coaches are coordinator Derius Swinton II and Mayur Chaudhari. To be a special teams coach in the NFL, you have to knowledgable in all facets of that area. With that in mind, Swinton and Chaudhari both should be able to work with the kickers and help them get through whatever it is that’s keeping them from reaching their potential.
They have yet to play a single preseason game, but if neither of the three can stand out this month, it may be time to shell out for a veteran either on the market or elsewhere.
“Which AFC West defense looks to match up best against the Bolts this year? I think the Broncos probably have the best D, but I think they’re beatable with Ekeler screens and TE matchups.” - (FlatBux from BFTB)
I’d say the Broncos have one of the better defense’s in the division with the likes of Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Justin Simmons. However, the Broncos are running the same defense the Chargers are facing in practice every day under Brandon Staley. If you recall, Staley is a member of the Fangio coaching tree. This leads me to believe they’ll have a leg up on the Broncos defense compared to other opponents.
I also think the Chiefs defense is still plenty talented with names like Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu. You also can’t forget about rising corner L’Jarius Sneed and athletic linebacker Willie gay Jr.
“If playing up to potential and healthy all season, whose play would have the most impact and effect on the defense as a whole from the inside out; Tillery, Tranquill, or Adderley? Why?” - (IMissStephenCooper from BFTB)
Great question. If I had to pick one, I think I’d go with Drue Tranquill.
Tillery will be flanked by an edge player and Linval Joseph at nose. He’ll be able to mask some of his shortcomings in that manner. The Chargers secondary was successful with Derwin James working alongside Jahleel Addae in 2018 so Nasir Adderley doesn’t have to be a world-beater back there.
With Tranquill, it’s just him and Kenneth Murray/Kyzir White out there in the middle, Their ability to disrupt plays at the line of scrimmage, on top of covering tight ends and running backs out of the backfield, will play a huge role in crucial situations such as third/fourth downs and on the goal line.
“Outside of the first two picks, which rookie do you think will have the largest impact on the 2021 season? I don’t think McKitty or Palmer see much of the field in 2021 (which is why I was not thrilled with the picks). I think Webb and Niemann will kick @$$ at ST and potentially see snaps on D.” - (kevdiego from BFTB)
I don’t think people realize how good Josh Palmer has been looking in training camp. Whether it’s working through the ladder and other agility drills, or making plays on the field, Palmer looks like an established NFL season right this minute. In fact, I’d give him the nod over Mike Williams as a more well-rounded receiver. Alas, that 50/50 ball prowess from Williams is just too important (plus that $15 million salary) for him to ever lose snaps to a rookie.
Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton will both see the field as the team’s deep threats, but do not write off Palmer to see an increasing workload as the season goes on.
The safety and linebacker positions are both shallow enough that Mark Webb and Nick Niemann should see the field, at least in a small way, as rookies. One injury to either group is all that’s stopping one of them from seeing notable snaps.
“What’s the assessment on Fieler and Aboushi? I haven’t heard much on these two besides being the starting guards.” - (DiomedesMiura from BFTB)
Matt Feiler has been rock steady in camp thus far. His name hasn’t been brought up all that much but that can also be a good thing. No mistakes is always a plus. I unfortunately can’t say the same about Oday Aboushi. During Sunday’s scrimmage inside SoFi Stadium, Aboushi had his fair share of mistakes.
On this play below, Aboushi is late to pick up the blitzing linebacker but gets lucky that Austin Ekeler is behind him to pick up the block. He then looks for work and whiffs on Justin Jones. You could say the second part didn’t matter in the end, but I’d have liked to see him at least make contact.
#Chargers new and improved OL providing Justin Herbert with a clean pocket (!) against a LB blitz to deliver a strike to Keenan Allen.— Dan W. (@ChargersHomer) August 9, 2021
Also, was Derwin imitating an INT at the end? Lol pic.twitter.com/jFjh9s4pTg
On this second play, Aboushi gets blown into Herbert’s lap by 2019 seventh-round pick, Cortez Broughton. It’s a good sign for Broughton. Not so much for Aboushi. It’s early, but what we’ve seen so far doesn’t instill a ton of confidence.