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4 UDFAs with the best chance to make the Chargers roster

With a hole at free safety, AJ Finley seems like a nice bet to push for a roster spot this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 South Carolina at Ole Miss Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chargers love themselves some undrafted free agents. The big names to remember in franchise history that began their careers undrafted are undoubtedly Antonio Gates and Austin Ekeler. In recent years, Michael Davis went from UDFA to starter on defense while role players such as Breiden Fehoko and Amen Ogbongbemiga each found a way to stick around past their rookie seasons.

This year, the Chargers signed 18 undrafted players and while there aren’t a ton with name power, there are still some potential gems amongst the group.

Below are my four players I believe have the best chance of making the team from the jump.

DT Jerrod Clark

The Chargers reportedly liked Clark as a potential pick in the seventh round but felt that quarterback Max Duggan would have been harder to sign as a UDFA. Luckily for them, it all worked out as the Chargers have Clark some additional cash to persuade him to come out to Los Angeles.

The massive 6’4, 334-pound Clark is a former tight end who absolutely blew up into a traditional two-down nose tackle by the end of his college career. The Chargers do need a traditional nose with his mass in the middle, but Clark could stand to lose a bit of weight and/or change his body composition to where he isn’t losing any natural athleticism from being bogged down by bad mass.

The Chargers are set at the top of the depth chart with Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Otito Ogbonnia, and Morgan Fox as interior linemen, but Clark’s only competition past them are David Moa and Christopher Hinton. The Chargers are sure to keep more than four to rotate in, especially when three of them play in their base 3-4 front, so Clark is immediately my front-runner to make the final roster out of this UDFA group.

EDGE Brevin Allen

The Chargers did everything they could in 2022 to reinforce their edge rusher group following the injury to Joey Bosa that kept him out for 12 games. That included moving Kyle Van Noy to the edge full time and signing guys like Derek Tuszka off the street. Veteran Khalil Mack still notched eight sacks while being the focal point of the pass rush, but only one of those came during the final eight games of the season.

Enter Allen, a toolsy, hyper-athletic edge rusher who ate up the competition at the FCS level. Allen was also included on Bruce Feldman’s latest edition of the “Freaks List” where he highlights the freakiest athletes in college football ahead of the upcoming season.

The Chargers got bigger at edge by adding Tuli Tuipulotu in the second round. Allen is a little bit taller but also breaks the 260-pound threshold with long 34.5” arms. He broke out in 2021 with 9.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss en route to being a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award which is given to the Defensive Player of the Year at the FCS level.

He reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds which is an excellent time at his size. After impressing at both the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine Bowl, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does the same with the Chargers in camp.

EDGE Andrew Farmer

Farmer is another very athletic, small-school edge rusher that was uber-productive for his school in 2022.

During this past season alone, Farmer recorded an incredible 25 tackles for loss with six sacks. During the 2021 season — his first at Lane College — Farmer still had a whopping 19 tackles for loss but a career-high 11.5 sacks to go with it. That’s an incredible stretch of production that you don’t see often, regardless of the level of competition.

Like I touched on above, the Chargers are in dire need of help at pass-rusher and Farmer provides another dart throw at the position with a 6’4, 250-pound frame and a 4.70 40 time to boot.

S AJ Finley

I really like Finley’s size and ball production at free safety and I’m sure that’s what the Chargers see, as well. At 6’3 and 205 pounds, he’s built well for the position and it’s not often you can sign an undrafted player who left college with eight interceptions in the SEC and 34 career starts.

At Ole Miss’ pro day, Finley checked the speed box with a 4.47 in the 40 and led all participants with a 10’7 in the broad jump.

The Chargers lost Nasir Adderley to retirement and currently with Alohi Gilman, 2022 third-rounder JT Woods, Raheem Layne, and Mark Webb as their top four safeties behind Derwin James. Woods is the only player among them to fit the free safety role but he still needs a ton of work as a tackler to ever see the field in a substantial role.

Right now, if the Chargers were to keep five safeties on their final roster, I see Finley beating out Webb for the final spot should he impress in camp.