News regarding certain players not making the team could start hitting the timelines sooner than we expect, so here’s me throwing out my final roster prediction prior to any of that dropping out of nowhere.
Brandon Staley and his staff have a few tough decisions to make regarding the makeup of their initial 53, but I think things will settle into a more “expected” group closer to the team’s season opener against the Raiders.
For now, this is what I have the team doing ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
Quarterbacks (3): Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
Nothing new to see here. The team is keeping three quarterbacks which will burden the rest of the roster. Stick played well enough to warrant the backup quarterback job over Daniel yet the team still loves him enough to keep him around. This, along with the running backs below, add up to extra spots being wasted on players who will never see the field. It boggles the mind but that’s just how they Staley and his staff want to do things.
Running Backs (5): Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Larry Rountree, Zander Horvath
It was a huge bummer that we didn’t get to see more of Spiller during the preseason. His injury opened the door for Kelley to solidify himself as the RB2 out of camp and that likely won’t change anytime soon. Reports have come out regarding the Chargers keeping Rountree on the final roster which means the team is expected to keep four running backs and a fullback, which I predict will be the rookie Horvath. Four running backs is not a good way to build this roster but the team seems hellbent on keeping their recent draft picks together.
Wide Receivers (5): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter
Michael Bandy deserves a spot on this roster. I think we can all agree on that. The unfortunate part, however, is that keeping six receivers is not a good way to go about building this team. Other positions need help and that should ultimately push Bandy to the practice squad. However, after his preseason performance, he’s likely to land with another team where he has a better shot to stick than spend anymore time on the PS.
Tight Ends (4): Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Tre’ McKitty, Hunter Kampmoyer
We’ve had to wait extra long to finally see Everett take the field in a Chargers uniform. That time will finally come in week one after he was held out of the entire preseason. Parham was also held out due to being dinged up which meant we got to see a lot of Kampmoyer and some of the undrafted guys like Krommenhoek. I have Kampmoyer earning a spot as a fourth tight end to give this group some extra help while Parham continues to rehab leading up to the Raiders game.
Offensive Line (9)
Offensive Tackles (3): Rashawn Slater, Trey Pipkins, Storm Norton
Can’t believe the steep decline this group goes on as you go from reading Slater to Pipkins to Norton. The team must address this position — starter or depth — this next offseason. Even as a swing tackle, Norton is not who you want. I’d much rather Salyer get this role, which actually might be the case this year in heavy, extra-lineman packages.
Offensive Guards (4): Matt Feiler, Zion Johnson, Jamaree Salyer, Brenden Jaimes
Feiler and Johnson are and awesome guard duo. I’m so stoked to see Zion play during the regular season. It’s the same hype we all had a year ago with Slater. Salyer looked good during the preseason and his versatility is huge for the team. Jaimes is still progressing as a guard at this level but he’s still young and moldable enough to keep around as the team’s last body here.
Centers (2): Corey Linsley, Will Clapp
Linsley is the best of the best and Clapp is the only other center still on the roster. These two will be your pivots to begin the regular season.
Defensive Line (5): Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Jerry Tillery, Breiden Fehoko, Otito Ogbonnia
This group could easily keep a sixth body, but I think the extra help is needed elsewhere. The new top trio is excellent. Tillery will be kept as a rotational, pass-rush situation-only player while Fehoko has certainly earned a spot this year. Losing veteran Christian Covington might seem a bit sketch but he hasn’t been nearly as solid as you’d want from a player with his experience. Fehoko is the better run-stopper which means he gets the nod in the end.
Edge Rushers (4): Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chris Rumph II, Carlo Kemp
The Chargers have the best pass rushing duo in the NFL. I truly believe that. But what will come after Bosa and Mack has been one of the bigger worries for me as this training camp has gone on. Luckily, Rumph’s play from this preseason really helped shoot up some confidence in this group. The second-year player added some much-needed weight and still looks as slippery and evasive as he did when he came out of Duke a year ago. Our last guy, Kemp, is more of a projection. I love his size at the position. He also played pretty well these past two weeks. If he can put it together, Kemp could be a really nice find here.
Inside Linebackers (5): Kyle Van Noy, Drue Tranquill, Troy Reeder, Kenneth Murray
This group will be “fine” with their top three, but I bet many will sour on them fast if Murray sees the field early while showing little progress from a year ago. Van Noy’s leadership and Reeder’s experience playing winning football should inspire a good amount of cautious optimism here. The potential for a Kyzir White-esque breakout year for Tranquill is also up in the air so there’s certainly enough to keep this group from being in the basement of the roster if you’re willing to have some hope.
Cornerbacks (6): J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis, Bryce Callahan, Ja’Sir Taylor, Deane Leonard
With Campbell having already been waived with an injury designation, this picture with this group became much clearer. The top four here have always been clear-cut, so it mainly came down to the who the fifth and sixth bodies would be. Sixth-round rookie Taylor has impressed enough to be one of them. Leonard, on the other hand, will be in a fight with veteran Kemon Hall. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hall ended up being the guy, but I predict the staff will want to invest more time in one of their own picks if given the chance.
Safeties (4): Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, JT Woods
Despite some early hype stemming from early training camp practices, 2021 draft pick Mark Webb simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy long enough to put anything on tape. His skill set was already pretty limited for a safety and I don’t see how he continues to stick around after being a no-show during this year’s preseason.
Without Webb, this group looks to be a serviceable group behind James. With Woods’ obvious shortcomings as a tackler, expect Gilman to be the main safety off the bench in whenever they want to move James up into the box in certain heavy nickel/dime packages.
Special Teams (3)
Kicker: Dustin Hopkins
Punter: JK Scott
Long Snapper: Josh Harris
These are your guys holding down the third phase of the game. It’s improved from a year ago and that’s all Chargers fans can ask for. Now we all must hope the coverage units are up to par, as well.