Earlier this week, I asked you all to tell me about the position battle(s) you are most excited to watch during this year’s training camp.
Here are our favorite answers!
Safety: Alohi vs. Woods vs. Free-agent vet?
In order of importance/interest (at least to me):
RB2-4: I’m not sure the 2024 RB1 is on the current roster. If he is, getting meaningful playing time in 2023 will help position that player for the 2024 role. It will also be interesting to see how Moore is going to approach the running game
Safety: The battle for who is going to play next to and back up Derwin is an important question the Chargers need to answer if they’re going to have a successful 2023. My vote is for a player that is not currently on the roster. I’m also interested to see if Woods can learn how to tackle
CB Depth: Jackson will almost certainly be limited in pre-season, which will give depth players more visibility.
OL: I know popular opinion is that the OL starters are set. I want to see what Salyer looks like at RG. If the answer is not great, does he move to RT? Will the staff let him compete with Pipkins to start? I’m also interested to see what Sarell looks like after time with Duke. If the answer is not good, where does the team look for their swing tackle? Who is the backup center? I fear the answer is Clapp, which is scary.
Going into last season, I thought the roster had holes at S, TE and RT (I was right on 2 out of 3). This year, the S and TE issues remain, which is frustrating.
My first interest is to see how the d-line is going to shake out. How are they going to shuffle DE-NT-DL with the players on the roster? My guess is that Johnson, SJD, Fox are the group going in, but is Johnson healthy enough to go? Who will be the rotational guys? Could Jerrod Clark be this year’s UDFA hero? Ultimately, will this team actually make even a moderate effort to try to stop the run?
Second, how will the WR group fill out behind MWill and Keenan. Palmer, Guyton, and Johnston will all get runs, but how are they going to be used in 11 personnel? A lot of questions as to what Moore can do with this group. Davis, I’d guess, is going to be almost exclusively the return specialist, but maybe he could prove himself to be more integral to the offense. (I’m refusing to use the term “gadget guy” here.)
Finally, will Zander Horvath have a roll on this team?
Battle for inside LB really? That would be great; however the question is are the Chargers looking for someone that actually can play that position? For the last couple years Murray inexplicably has been Starting/playing. The last raider game 2 yrs ago still haunts me. Go Chargers
QB2 competition actually has some juice to it this year since they resigned Stick and drafted Duggan. Not that I have any faith in either if we needed them to play any meaningful snaps this season, and IMO this position could and should still be upgraded with a veteran post cuts. If they are continuing their “All IN” bs mantra from last year, having these two as backups is risky.
RB2. It’s time for someone to step up. Also, whoever wins that camp battle this season, is fast tracked for RB 1 next season.
If I thought the team wasn’t going to sign a veteran DB before training camp, I’d probably nominate Safety or Slot CB, but I think a veteran will be added to the DB group.
So my answer for now is QB2, which is a remarkable reflection of how decent shape the Chargers roster is in, I think.
One common sentiment amongst Chargers fans that doesn’t really resonate with me at all is some variation of:
If Duggan wins QB2, then keeping Stick around was a waste/or drafting Stick was a waste; or
If Stick wins QB2, then drafting Duggan was a wasted pick.
That’s not how I choose to think about the Quarterback position.
Steve Palazollo from PFF commonly says that if he were an NFL GM he’d have 5-6 QBs competing during every training camp, he’d always carry 3 QBs on the final 53, and he would continue to draft QBs almost every year with Day 3 picks. His analysis is always from an analytical/adding PFF WAR (Wins Above Replacement) standpoint.
QB2 is a high-value position on the roster. Just ask Philly.
Easton Stick not having developed does not make his selection a waste. I have more sympathy for the viewpoint that last off-season was the time to move on from him (because I shared it!). But we’ve all heard from Money (and other Chargers reporters) how Herbert views Stick’s presence in the QB room as important and valuable to him. And the Chargers’ argument would be that they’d seen enough to want to continue to develop him (hoping he would eventually supplant Daniel).
If Duggan flames out, that doesn’t make taking a chance on a Heisman Finalist with Pick 239 a bad decision. The pay-off if he “hits” is so much higher than for most other positions. The process is sound to me.