The Chargers are still riding their streak of having a rookie undrafted free agent make the roster for well over 20+ seasons. This year, that streak will look to continue with several possibilities in linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga and defensive tackle Forrest Merrill.
With a new coaching staff in place, fans and analysts alike have to throw out all the tendencies we learned about the previous staff. Beforehand, we were able to guesstimate how many would be kept at specific positions because that’s what happened the year before...and also the year before that.
It’s a fresh start for the team and that could mean everything we’ve come to learn through the years is now officially moot.
But that’s part of the fun, right?
Ahead of today’s deadline, here’s my final 53-man roster prediction for the Chargers.
Let’s get into it.
QB (3): Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
Everyone should feel uber confident that this is how the quarterback position will play out for the Chargers. During the team’s preseason finale in Seattle, Tom Telesco said the team would “more than likely” keep all three quarterbacks and that he likes both Daniel and Stick.
Keeping a third quarterback takes away valuable roster space from another player who may actually end up seeing the field this season so I’m not the biggest fan of this outcome. If Herbert was one more year into his career, Daniel wouldn’t be nearly as important but you can’t fault the team for wanting that veteran presence, especially with familiarity in the new system.
#Chargers GM Tom Telesco on the QB battle, “More than likely we are keeping all three. You got to have these guys. We like them both. We will figure out the roster, but we would like to keep three quarterbacks.”— Fernando Ramirez (@RealFRamirez) August 29, 2021
RB (4): Austin Ekeler, Larry Rountree, Joshua Kelley, Gabe Nabers
Jackson is likely out this year in favor of two younger running backs who have managed to stay away from injuries thus far in their young careers. We all know how talented JJ is when available, it’s just unfortunate those moments have been somewhat rare up to this point. That leaves both Rountree and Kelley to be the team’s second and third running backs. I’d like to see the team add a cheap veteran to this room but I wouldn’t be surprised them roll with what they have.
WR (6): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, Tyron Johnson, Jalen Guyton, K.J. Hill
I feel like the top five guys in this position are pretty set and the final spot (or two) are the only ones to deliberate over. In the end, I think Hill gets the nod over Joe Reed due to his contributions as a punt returner. Reed was drafted to be the team’s kick returner but he has yet to actually pin the job down and wasn’t receiving the first looks during the preseason. His current value is on kick coverages and I don’t think that’s enough to keep more than six wideouts to begin the year.
TE (3): Jared Cook, Donald Parham, Tre’ McKitty
I want the team to keep Stephen Anderson along with the three names above but keeping that third quarterback really stresses them for space. Anderson showed a small glimpse of that YAC ability I enjoy seeing so much during the preseason which only makes it harder to see him not make the cut. If the Chargers decide to cut a player at any other position, I expect Anderson snag one of the remaining open spots.
As for the the three making it, Cook and Parham will be your main pass-catchers while McKitty will see time in two-tight end sets as an additional run-blocker early on.
OL (9): Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Oday Aboushi, Bryan Bulaga, Scott Quessenberry, Brenden Jaimes, Storm Norton, Trey Pipkins
Nine seems to be the sweet spot for many predictions of the offensive line. If many could have their way, Pipkins would not be included in this but that’s unfortunately not how this is likely going to work. Pipkins is a must to keep as the depth is so bad at the position he’s still the only other option outside of Norton. The Chargers could very well add someone who was cut from another club, but as for the final roster cut, Pipkins will make it.
Jaimes showed some awesome play alongside Slater in their exhibition against the Rams. I like him to battle for the right guard spot all season with Aboushi. Quessenberry can play all three interior positions so he’ll be incredibly valuable to this team.
DL (7): Linval Joseph, Jerry Tillery, Justin Jones, Christian Covington, Cortez Broughton, Breiden Fehoko, Joe Gaziano
With now three starting interior linemen on the defensive front as opposed to two in the the team’s old 4-3 front, the team will likely keep an extra body or two here. Brandon Staley said he likes Fehoko as the team’s main backup at nose to Joseph while Covington and Broughton going to backup both three-techniques. I like this group to hopefully take a step forward. Lastly, I think Gaziano is a Staley type of player and his Northwestern connection to his right-hand man, Cody Cejda, will play a role in him sticking around.
Edge (4): Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, Kyler Fackrell, Chris Rumph II
With Emeke Egbule being reportedly being released, I have the Chargers keeping just four edge rushers. This is a pretty thin group, especially with Rumph already having dealt with a foot injury this preseason. Alas, it gives the team two starters and two backups for either side. That should be good enough for now.
LB (5): Kenneth Murray Jr., Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga
One of the shallowest groups on the roster throughout the preseason, the Chargers don’t need a ton of bodies here when only two linebackers on the field at any given time. Their top trio is athletic and looked really energized this preseason. Niemann was everywhere this month and could turn into a special teams dynamo. Ogbongbemiga is the team’s best hope of continuing their streak of UDFAs making the opening roster despite the AC joint injury he sustained recently.
CB (5): Chris Harris Jr., Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr., Ryan Smith, Brandon Facyson
The top three here are set in stone. Samuel played well this preseason and even snagged his first interception against the 49ers. Veteran free-agent signing Ryan Smith was injured all year but he was added this offseason to aid the team’s special teams coverage. Despite not seeing any time this month, he’s likely kept. Despite Tevaughn Campbell showing more during their exhibition games, Facyson seems to be loved by the staff just a bit more and also had his fair share of plays made during practice.
S (4): Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, Mark Webb
All but one safety on the preseason roster will make the final 53. UDFA Ben DeLuca is the last one out here. Chriss Harris Jr. has talked about playing some safety this year which means the team can be more fluid with fewer defensive backs on the team. That also opens up space elsewhere. This position group scares the heck out of me should anything happen to James.
Special Teams (3): Tristan Vizcaino, Ty Long, Matt Overton
It was a close competition, but I’d say Vizcaino wins the starting kicker job over Michael Badgley after narrowly outperforming him in training camp. I wish I felt better about Vizcaino taking over, but I don’t. Long makes the team as the incumbent and Overton is the guy after Cole Mazza was waived/injured on Monday.