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Chargers’ best and worst PFF grades vs. the Saints

Deane Leonard and Zack Bailey continue to shine in the preseason.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers came up short in their preseason matchup against the Saints, but the game provided plenty of teachable moments Brandon Staley and his staff can point to this week in training camp. Let’s take a look at who stood out and who struggled, according to PFF.



  • Zack Bailey - 77.0
  • Will Clapp - 74.5
  • Zion Johnson - 72.5
  • Jamaree Salyer - 71.1
  • Quentin Johnston - 70.9

Zack Bailey continued to impress, finding work and pick up stunts in pass pro, as well as excelling in the run game. During the first live watch, it’s hard to imagine four lineman ending up on the “good” side of this PFF list, but most of the pressure came from the tackles and Brenden Jaimes’ poor display as the second team center.

The biggest positive here is Quentin Johnston catching all three of his targets after only securing half last week.


We’re leaving Michael Ezeike off this list, as his two snaps are hardly enough to justify including him in this analysis.

  • Donald Parham - 40.4
  • Elijah Dotson - 45.6
  • Tre’ McKitty - 45.7
  • John Hightower - 48.8
  • Milton Wright - 50.6

Yikes! After a breakout performance last week, Dotson finds himself on the wrong list after the Saints game. After averaging 15.3 yards per carry, he fell back to earth with a 3.5 average. He also stymied the offense with two drops in key moments.

What’s more concerning than a UDFA having a rough game is the team’s number two and three tight end scoring amongst practice squad hopefuls. Donald Parham dropped his only pass, and McKitty failed to get a target despite running 11 routes. Coupled with less-than-stellar run blocking, these tight ends need to have a solid final preseason game to wash this one away.



  • Deane Leonard - 81.7
  • JT Woods - 76.6
  • Daiyan Henley - 75.5
  • Ja’Sir Taylor - 72.3
  • Blake Lynch - 68.7

The defense as a whole took a step back from last week’s performance, but there were standout moments from players that will have key roles for the Chargers this season.

Deane Leonard may not open the season as a main defensive contributor, but he’s stacking an impressive preseason on top of the raves he earned in camp last year. In team drills, Leonard was turning heads in 2022’s camp with his sticky coverage, especially in man. He faltered a bit in his preseason games, sometimes failing to locate or look for a deep pass, but he slid back into a special teams role during the regular season where he performed admirably. Now, he’s taken another step forward by progressing as a top defensive player in these first two preseason games of 2023. He’s collectively been on the field for 41 pass plays thus far in the preseason, and has only given up two receptions for 15 yards on five targets. Perhaps just as impressive is the fact that he has yet to miss a tackle, securing three tackles and an assist.

JT Woods also deserves acknowledgement for his play. Not only did he notch a pass break up and only allow two catches on five targets (though one was a 38 yard explosive where he took a bad angle on a screen pass), but he’s making his run reads extremely fast for a young player with few NFL reps to his name. If he can bring just a little more physicality to his game when tackling, he’ll be a major problem for offenses.


  • Michael Jacquet - 44.8
  • Raheem Layne - 50.8
  • Carlo Kemp - 51.8
  • Matt Hankins - 54.7
  • Scott Matlock - 56.7

Carlo Kemp is an interesting add on this list, as he followed up his impressive performance last week with a two hurry, one sack performance. PFF knocked him pretty heavily in his run defense, assigned a score of 49.2, but it’s hard to call the player that led the team in pressures one of the worst performers.

Raheem Layne is another player looking to earn a depth role on the active roster, so it’s disappointing to see him so low on this list. He only allowed one catch on three targets for 15 yards, and didn’t miss any of his four tackle attempts, so it’s not quite as dire as the score may suggest.