It’s been close to a month now since the NFL Draft. It’s time for a “way-too-early” roster projection for the Los Angeles Chargers, as we look at who will most likely be on the final roster come September. Some things will likely change between now and then since one never knows who might surprise in training camp or the preseason (and additional signings are also possible). But we can still make some fair assumptions about who will more likely be there at the end.
Los Angeles Chargers Roster Projection – Way Too Early Version
Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
We all know who the starter is here. It’s also a pretty fair assumption that Chase Daniel will be the #2 quarterback, as he’s had quite a reliable career as a clipboard holder. He’s one of those guys that if he has to come in relief, he won’t bring you back from a double-digit deficit, but he won’t throw away the game either if you’re up. The only real question mark is Easton Stick, but these days with injuries as prevalent as they are, it can’t hurt to keep a third quarterback around if you have the roster space.
Running Back (5)
Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Gabe Nabers, Larry Rountree III
There are at least three players here who are pretty much shoe-ins. Austin Ekeler, the primary starter, and then Justin Jackson, the primary change-of-pace back. Despite a disappointing rookie year, it can be assumed that Joshua Kelley will be back as well. Unless Brandon Staley decides he doesn’t want a fullback on the roster, Gabe Nabers should be back too, especially since he has no competition. That just leaves Darius Bradwell and the new rookie Larry Rountree III. Bradwell spent almost all of last season on the practice squad and never even got a carry, so he’ll probably stay there while Rountree makes the active roster.
Wide Receiver (6)
Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson, Josh Palmer, K.J. Hill
There’s going to be a little bit of interesting competition here. There are two obvious starters (Allen and Williams) and then quite a few backups to fight over for roster spots. Ultimately, it’s hard to see more than six total receivers making the final cut. For now, out of five obvious backups that will be in the mix (there could be more), Joe Reed looks to be the most likely odd man out. Last year he was only used on special teams and some running plays, and only got one target – even during a game where both Allen and Williams were essentially unavailable and all the other backups were getting catches. Aside from the third-round rookie Josh Palmer, all the others have seen some levels of action and done well.
Tight End (4)
Jared Cook, Donald Parham, Tre McKitty, Stephen Anderson
Jared Cook is the clear-cut starter here, but it could get interesting after that. Stephen Anderson was presumably re-signed because of his blocking ability, while Donald Parham is the project that could be an insane red-zone threat, but the drafting of Tre McKitty makes the waters murky. For now, we’ll assume all four of these make the roster, but there may be a competition to watch here.
Offensive Line (9)
Corey Linsley, Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Bryan Bulaga, Oday Aboushi, Brenden Jaimes, Storm Norton, Trey Pipkins, Scott Quessenberry
The Chargers made some big additions at offensive line this off-season. You have the big four obvious starters (Linsley, Slater, Feiler, and Bulaga) plus Aboushi and the rookie Brenden Jaimes. That leaves room for a few more backups. Unless somebody new impresses in camp, there shouldn’t be any surprises here. Pipkins and Quessenberry are the most likely backups to stick around, and we’ll go with the XFL carryover Storm Norton for the final spot as a rotational piece.
Defensive Linemen (8)
Joey Bosa, Jerry Tillery, Uchenna Nwosu, Christian Covington, Justin Jones, Linval Joseph, Chris Rumph II, Jesse Lemonier
There could be some competition here. Joey Bosa is obviously the main starter, and Jerry Tillery and Uchenna Nwosu aren’t going anywhere, but it could get interesting after that. It’s still not clear who’s going to be the defensive end opposite Bosa now, but the recently-signed Christian Covington is a possibility since he can play both defensive end and defensive tackle. After that, the veterans Jones and Joseph should stick around for depth, and then there’s the fourth-round rookie Rumph. After that, it could be anybody’s game, but based on the fact that Jesse Lemonier was at least able to pressure the quarterbacks a bit in his limited action (three quarterback pressures in two games), we’ll give him the nod for now.
It’s also worth mentioning that with it being a 3-4 defense, Nwosu could get moved back to linebacker for help with pass-rushing (otherwise he’d probably be the clear contender to play opposite Bosa). But he’s still listed as a defensive end, so he remains sorted here for now.
Kenneth Murray, Drue Tranquill, Kyzir White, Kyler Fackrell, Nick Niemann, Emeke Egbule
There are four shoe-ins here – Murray, Tranquill, White, and the newly-signed Fackrell. After that, there could be some competition, but there aren’t a large number of linebackers right now on the roster to begin with. We’ll assume for now that sixth-round pick Nick Niemann makes the roster. Emeke Egbule would also be a frontrunner to remain a backup, but after only 11 tackles in two years, he could get cut loose if Cole Christiansen or Amen Ogbongbemiga impress in training camp. As mentioned earlier, Nwosu could also get moved back to this group.
Chris Harris, Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr, Brandon Facyson, Tevaughn Campbell
The Chargers have two clear starters here with Chris Harris and Michael Davis, and also added Asante Samuel Jr, who has a fair shot at either being a starter or a heavy rotational player, given the lack of competition otherwise. Brandon Facyson was re-signed this off-season but is still only backup-tier. Tevaughn Campbell at least had a pick-six last season, so that may help bring him some goodwill unless he flames out this off-season. The only other clear competitor right now would be Ryan Smith, but he would likely only be there for special teams.
Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, Mark Webb, Alohi Gilman
Don’t be surprised if Jahleel Addae returns or somebody else gets added here later this off-season, because there are not a lot of available safeties right now. Derwin James is the obvious lock-in of the bunch, while Nasir Adderley will likely be the free safety starter by virtue of there being no one else better unless Mark Webb impresses everybody.
Special Teams (3)
Tristian Vizcaino, Ty Long, Cole Mazza
Here’s one bold prediction of sorts: Michael Badgley will get ousted at kicker this off-season by Tristan Vizcaino. Frankly, it wouldn’t be that difficult for him or even the third competitor Alex Kessman to beat him out as long as they can hit reliably from 45+, which is where Badgley struggles heavily from. Beyond that, there shouldn’t be any surprises. Punter Ty Long has a competitor as well in Lachlan Edwards, but he seems to merely be a practice squad guy.
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