The Chargers have a preseason game tomorrow and will likely force this writer to crumple up all his notes and burn his laptop. But hey, here is my best shot for now.
Shall we change it up a bit? How about start with the defense:
Defensive Tackle: Linval Joseph, Jerry Tillery, Justin Jones, Christian Covington, Cortez Broughton (5)
The scrimmage and reports from camp have changed my mind on IDL5. It is very possible they keep a sixth and very deserving IDL like Breiden Fehoko to assist in their run defense depth behind Joseph. Here is the thing: This run defense is ridiculously good, and much better than I would have given them credit for. The linebackers, a healthy Derwin James, and a Nasir Adderley willing to come downhill and tackle really boosts what I thought would be an iffy run defense. Today I am going to take the more explosive pass rusher in Cortez Broughton, who has been crushing it lately.
Linebacker: Kenneth Murray, Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga (5)
No player has reversed their stock more than Ogbongbemiga, who rotated in with the first-team unit when Murray went down. Take this however you want: He had the first crack at ILB while Niemann had the second half largely to himself.
With CB Ryan Smith injured and on the sideline the team could use more help on special teams. Ogbongbemiga and Niemann are both worth developing and adding to that unit.
EDGE: Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, Kyler Fackrell, Chris Rumph, Emeke Egbule (5)
No real surprises here. Rumph and Egbule both have been making plays and boost the depth and special teams units. I really like this group.
Corner: Michael Davis, Chris Harris Jr., Asante Samuel Jr., Ryan Smith, Brandon Facyson, Tevaughn Campbell (6)
This comes down to CB6. Corner has been a hot battle all throughout training camp with each depth player making a splash. I am currently going to give this one to Campbell due to experience, but I would be just as happy with one of the others.
Safety: It’s the same four. Sorry DeLuca (4)
Quarterback: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel (2)
Tell me Easton Stick is more valuable than Broughton or Ogbongbemiga. I just do not buy he has any chance to make the roster over any of the defensive depth players on the roster.
Running back/Fullback: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Gabe Nabers (4)
I have seen a few roster predictions where the team cuts Nabers…which is odd. He is needed for his role as a fullback and as a core special teams player first and foremost, but the plan for him is slightly more advanced than that. I have seen him lined up outside at practice and even in the slot at the scrimmage. Stephen Anderson and Tre’ McKitty could play some fullback but they are unlikely to do it on a full-time basis like Nabers.
Sorry to Larry Rountree. He is with Darius Bradwell fighting for RB4. I just do not value keeping a fourth running back over Ogbongbemiga or Broughton.
I saw Jackson cut on some roster predictions too, which was…odd. I get the injury-prone argument, but it is a weak one unless he sustains a significant injury this preseason. Jackson was by far and away RB2 in terms of reps behind Ekeler and is moved all over the offense as a receiving back. Focus on what the reps are telling you…
Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, Tyron Johnson, Jalen Guyton, Austin Proehl (6)
First off: Jason Moore absolutely deserves a spot on a roster based on his training camp performances, particularly as of late. He is likely a better receiving option than Proehl. But, Proehl has a few things going for him:
- Moore is more like Johnson or Williams (size). There is no Proehl-type guy projected to make the roster.
- Proehl is going to be their gadget player, something the other five guys are not. Joe Reed is not making the roster…unfortunately.
- Proehl is their starting punt returner and an insurance policy for Adderley at kick returner. Moore is not taking reps at return spots (that I am aware of).
Tight End: Jared Cook, Donald Parham, Tre’ McKitty, Stephen Anderson (4)
No changes for me here. Each were involved with the first-team unit at the scrimmage. Bigger bodies are also a Mike Williams injury insurance policy. The Saints love their tight end packages and each of the four tight ends provides something a little different for Joe Lombardi.
Offensive Line: Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Oday Aboushi, Bryan Bulaga, Storm Norton, Trey Pipkins, Brenden Jaimes, Scott Quessenberry (9)
Norton was the relief right tackle for Bulaga at the Fan Fest scrimmage and worked with the first team, which indicates they like him. But would they cut Pipkins? Unlikely, so he stays. The debate comes down to keeping St. Louis or not. I do believe Jaimes and Quessenberry are both better guard options (Quessenberry is technically the backup center). St. Louis has position flexibility and experience going for him, but he just was not good last year.
Special Teams: Tristan Vizcaino, Cole Mazza, Ty Long (3)
Vizcaino has kicked slightly better than the other two which gives him an edge as is. He also is the player/leg worth developing, as he is the one you want to attempt the desperation 65-yard field goal to win the game.