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Chargers 53-man roster prediction: Deane Leonard, Breiden Fehoko see stock rise early in training camp

Let’s take another look into that crystal ball...

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get too far into training camp, I had to drop another 53-man roster prediction. Through one week of sessions, we’ve learn a lot about how the coaching staff feels and we’ve been through enough practices to pinpoint some players who have certainly seen their stock rise, or fall, heading into the month of August.

Let’s go ahead and jump into it.

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

Nothing new here. This will be your quarterback room to begin the regular season unless something catastrophic happens.

Running Backs (4): Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Josh Kelley, Zander Horvath

This early in training camp I’m giving the edge to Josh Kelley over Larry Rountree based on what we’ve seen from him — or lack thereof — through the first two practices. According to our very own Garrett Sisti in attendance, Rountree looked to be grouped in with the undrafted backs who were failing to receive touches through entire periods.

Wide Receivers (5): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter

Like the quarterbacks, this group feels pretty finished already. I don’t see the team feeling the need to keep six or more on the active roster as other positions may need more bodies and more time initially if the coaching staff can’t pin the group down by the start of the season.

DeAndre Carter being able to hold down return duties while rounding out the group is huge. He’s been good early on in training camp during red zone drills. The floor of this group is the highest it’s been in some time.

Tight End (3): Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Tre’ McKitty

Thhe tight end group is once again one of the shallowest positions on the roster. This group lost Stephen Anderson over the offseason and swapped an aging Jared Cook for the athletic Everett. The team’s new TE1 gives the group some more versatility in the short to intermediate parts of the field as opposed to mainly being a downfield threat like Cook was a year ago. His ability to add YAC will also be greatly appreciated as Parham was the only one who has really portrayed much in that area over the past two seasons.

Offensive Line (9): Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson, Trey Pipkins, Storm Norton, Jamaree Salyer, Brenden Jaimes, Will Clapp

Nine has always seemed to be the right number here. The team doesn’t need one backup per spot and when you have versatile lineman in the reserves, it allows you to keep even less if need be. Clapp will be the team’s main backup at center while Jaimes/Salyer will be the reserves at guard. Pipkins and Norton both offer left and right side versatility at tackle.

Defensive Interior (6): Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Jerry Tillery, Christian Covington, Breiden Fehoko

With three interior positions in their base defense, I expect the Chargers to keep enough backups for all three spots. This is a group that the coaching staff will want to rotate a good amount in order to keep legs fresh. Fehoko has constantly flashed in camp while Tillery’s name scarcely gets used. Christian Covington offers versatility at tackle and nose. If they were to keep a seventh player for whatever reason, my pick would be Joe Gaziano who has also flashed some this early in camp.

Edge Rushers (4): Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chris Rumph II, Emeke Egbule

With Kenneth Murray on the PUP list, Kyle Van Noy is spending the majority of his time with the inside linebackers so thats where he’ll be for this prediction. Egbule has been tagged as one of the team’s backup edge rushers working alongside Chris Rumph II with the twos. This could change in the coming weeks but for now, Egbule gets the nod.

Middle Linebackers (5): Kyle Van Noy, Drue Tranquill, Kenneth Murray, Troy Reeder, Nick Niemann

I like five bodies here at inside linebacker. The loss of Kyzir White will likely be felt early in the season but there’s enough here to create a serviceable. Murray MUST take a step forward in year three or the “bust” label will start to come out in full force. It may be my Iowa bias but I like Niemann to ultimately make the team over Amen Ogbongbemiga due to his elite athleticism and potential on special teams.

Cornerbacks (6): J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., Bryce Callahan, Michael Davis, Deane Leonard, Tevaughn Campbell

The top four in this group are all but set so it’ll be the final two spots that have the most intrigue. Campbell should earn himself a spot with his veteran experience so it’ll come down to either of the two rookies to win it. So far, Leonard has received the most reps with the ones while impressing with those opportunities. There hasn’t been much buzz around Taylor but I wouldn’t count him out just yet. Staley spent a good chunk of time coaching him up in warm ups prior to Tuesday’s practice so I’d expect a nice bounce back from him in the coming days.

Safeties (5): Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, JT Woods, Alohi Gilman, Mark Webb

The safety group is another that’s looking to be hitting its’ stride after years of being mediocre outside of James. Adderley is expected to take another step in year two within this defense while Woods’ versatile and elite physical should create a very rangy top-three on the back end. Gilman has always filled in admirably in spots and Webb has apparently recovered quite well from a nagging injury during his rookie season. Lots of hype here so far in camp.

Special Teams (3): PK Dustin Hopkins, P JK Scott, LS Josh Harris

No surprises here. Hopkins was great in 2021 and Scott has been rock solid thus far in training camp. Harris was an All-Pro a year ago so I don’t expect any competition for his job.