We are getting closer to training camp, and it’s time for an early projection of the final 53-man roster for the Los Angeles Chargers, as we look at who will most likely be on the final roster by September. With it still being early, some things will likely change between now and then, since there is always the possibility for players surprising in training camp or preseason – or flaming out. Nevertheless, here are the reasonable assumptions at who has the best chance of making the roster.
2022 Los Angeles Chargers Roster Projection 1.0
Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
The Chargers have stuck with having a trio of quarterbacks on the active roster lately, and there is little reason to think that the lineup will change from last year. Chase Daniel remains the clipboard holder to Herbert, while Easton Stick remains a further emergency option. Undrafted rookie Brandon Peters will be vying for a spot, but he will have to impress to steal Stick or Daniel’s spot.
Running Back (5)
Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Joshua Kelley, Leddie Brown, Gabe Nabers
We can probably expect the Chargers to keep five halfbacks on the roster, but this is not exactly a strong group overall. Only Ekeler and the fourth-round rookie Spiller can be considered locks to make the roster. After that, it’s a bit of a crapshoot as to who will stand out in training camp. Right now, we will assume Kelley keeps his roster spot another year, as we have seen higher upside from him (though admittedly that’s not saying much) than Rountree, who showed basically nothing promising in his rookie year. After that, look for one of the undrafted free agents to steal a spot, with the safer bet being Leddie Brown. There is also a fullback duel between Nabers and Zander Horvath. For now, we will assume that the incumbent player keeps the spot (due in part to his established special teams ability), but that could easily change.
Wide Receiver (5)
Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter
This lineup should not be changing much from last year. Lately, the Chargers have been keeping five receivers on the roster, even when there’s been enough competition to justify six. This time there is not much of that competition. Allen, Williams, and Palmer are all locks at this point, while Guyton is a borderline lock. The newcomer DeAndre Carter should round out the bunch as the new return man, but he is capable of being a solid backup WR3 or WR4 as well should the team face injuries. If a sixth receiver were kept, it would probably be Joe Reed, but in all likelihood, he is destined for the practice squad again.
Tight End (3)
Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Tre McKitty
Gerald Everett is the new starter at tight end. Donald Parham appears to be recovering nicely from his ugly injury late last season. That mostly just leaves Tre McKitty, who doesn’t seem to have much of a path for a lot of playing time right now except as a blocker. Stephen Anderson departed this off-season and the only other tight end that is likely to make a play for a roster spot is Hunter Kampmoyer, but he will likely end up on the practice squad again.
Offensive Line (9)
Despite the competition for the right tackle spot going on, there is not likely to be any surprises here regarding who makes the roster, barring a breakout from an undrafted free agent. Linsley, Slater, Feiler, and Johnson remain the four other starters. Pipkins and Norton are currently the main competitors for the right tackle spot, and though Norton may not be a fan favorite right now, his roster spot is still likely secure regardless. Then there is the rookie Salyer. That leaves Will Clapp, who should be the new backup center, and last year’s fifth-rounder Brenden Jaimes for extra depth.
Defensive Linemen (6)
Austin Johnson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Jerry Tillery, Otito Ogbonnia, Christian Covington, Morgan Fox
Johnson and Joseph-Day are the main locks with regards to starters. After that, there’s more competition – both for the third starting spot on the defensive line and for roster spots. Tillery is likely to keep his job as the Chargers hope in the final year of his rookie deal that he does not end up a bust. Then there is fifth-round rookie Ogbonnia; who, barring a bad training camp/preseason, should make the final roster. Covington ought to be sticking around as a rotational piece as well. Fox was brought in as a depth piece in May as well, and given his familiarity with Staley, he probably has an inside track to a roster spot.
There are also a few players (Breiden Fehoko, Joe Gaziano, Forrest Merrill) that have shown promise but have usually started the season on the practice squad. If any of them has a strong showing this off-season, Fox or even Covington might be in the most precarious spot.
Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Kenneth Murray, Drue Tranquill, Kyle Van Noy, Chris Rumph, Nick Niemann, Troy Reeder
Bosa and Mack are the obvious starters at edge rusher, while Murray and Tranquill will likely be the starters in the middle. Kyle Van Noy and Rumph should be the backups on the outside. Niemann should keep his spot in his second year, while Reeder – another case of a previous Staley player – will take a spot as well, leaving Amen Ogbongbemiga likely to be on the outside looking in – though he should make the practice squad.
J.C. Jackson, Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr, Bryce Callahan, Tevaughn Campbell, Ja’Sir Taylor
This cornerback lineup is more stacked than in previous years, with four obvious locks to make the roster and have a role of some kind on the team (some bigger than others). That should leave room for two additional cornerbacks for depth. Tevaughn Campbell is quite inconsistent but has done just enough that he could stick around purely for depth purposes. The Chargers drafted two cornerbacks late in the Draft, and for now, we will assume that the higher-drafted Taylor (sixth round) makes the roster, while the seventh-rounder Deane Leonard goes to the practice squad. However, if both rookies do well in training camp, Campbell may find his roster spot in jeopardy.
Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, Mark Webb, J.T. Woods, Alohi Gilman
This particular position is pretty clear-cut. We have the starters James and Adderley, as well as the second-year Webb and the rookie Woods. Gilman has not done much in two years so far, but given that his only competition for backup strong safety is Ben DeLuca and an undrafted free agent, he should have little trouble holding on to his roster spot.
Special Teams (3)
Dustin Hopkins, J.K. Scott, Josh Harris
The Chargers made a couple of changes at special teams this year by bringing in a new punter (Scott) and a new long snapper (Harris, who went All-Pro last year). The only competition at all at any position is undrafted free agent kicker James McCourt, but Dustin Hopkins should have little trouble holding onto his job.
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