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The Most Important Chargers Camp Battle – A Battle of Late Round Selections

Ja'Sir Taylor and Tarheeb Still will be participating in the Chargers most important training camp battle this season.

Every year there is a training camp battle that has major implications for a team’s future and current success. Just last year we thought Ja’Sir Taylor and Asante Samuel Jr were fighting over the same spot, but that ended up being a wash. Things can change, and we know after the hiring of this new regime, things will. Taylor’s name can’t get away from camp battles, as he is in the most important one this season.

The Camp Battle: The Importance

Ja’Sir Taylor’s current starting role is at slot corner, which is arguably the most difficult position defense. Taylor was drafted to be a depth cornerback with special teams ability, and in that role, he would be great. However, he was trusted to be a starter on defense last season, and his play was quite lackluster. It was apparent that Taylor was not suited to be a starting slot cornerback in the league yet, or at least in Brandon Staley’s scheme.

Lackluster play from a player with low expectations is a recipe for competition to brew, and the Chargers wanted just that. Drafting Tarheeb Still in the fifth round and bringing in other sources of competition will be the main source of talent for the slot position. Furthermore, under the new defensive scheme of Jesse Minter, the Chargers’ defense will maximize their talent much more, which will make this battle even more interesting. Look for Derwin James to play plenty of the slot position, and whoever the Chargers’ safety three is to fill in at the other safety spot. All of this to say, who is going to win this camp battle? Taylor? Still? Nobody?

The Case for Ja’Sir Taylor

Let’s start with the aforementioned Ja’Sir Taylor. The 25-year-old 2022 sixth-round selection is going into his third year and is looking to take that “next step” in his game. Last season, he was touted for his run defense capabilities, however, it was only in contrast to Asante Samuel Jr. Samuel Jr is notorious for his terrible run defense, and that was the main reason for Coach Staley to choose the Wake Forest product over the former second-round selection in Samuel Jr. However, Taylor only had a 47.3 run defense grade, even though that was his calling card.

As a coverage defender, Taylor’s 58.0 PFF grade doesn’t instill confidence either. However, this new regime will covet what Taylor has as a corner and that’s speed, experience, and traits. The former sixth-rounder was drafted to be a special teams player who can be developed, and to be fair to Taylor, starting nearly his entire second season, is much more ahead of schedule than I’m sure the previous regime had in mind. It boils down to, speed, experience, and traits for Taylor to win this job.

The Case for Tarheeb Still

The Chargers’ newest face at the slot corner position is fifth-round selection, Tarheeb Still. Expecting a fifth-round rookie to start right away on arguably the most important and difficult spot on the defense is pretty absurd. However, it very well may be exactly what they are expecting, as the Chargers slot position is that talent-dry. Coming out of Maryland, Still gives very similar traits to Taylor, but is three years younger, drafted by this regime, and is already garnering hype in OTAs.

The former Terp brings solid size, speed, and run defense to the bolts, which was exactly what Taylor was supposed to do a few years ago. The major difference between Still and Taylor is that Still will be receiving the “Harbaugh effect” at the age of 22, while Taylor gets it later in his career at 25. The Chargers 2024 fifth-round selection could develop much quicker and show his skills as soon as week one. This camp battle will be exciting to see who sets themselves apart, as both have similar skill sets and draft capital used on them.

Outside Camp Battle Winners & Conclusion

If neither of these players wins the camp battle, this would come as a complete shock to Charger fans. The only other options this team would have is UDFA out of Notre Dame Thomas Harper and Robert Kennedy, a UDFA out of NC State. Both have similar intriguing skills, being good run-defenders with a lot of position versatility and special teams ability. The slot position may also lie in the hands of Derwin James, who is expected to play plenty of snaps at the position. This would give both Harper and Kennedy a stronger shot of winning a spot on the team, as they have Safety experience that both Still and Taylor do not.

Overall, this training camp battle is a “pick your poison” type of battle. Except both players are nearly the same poison. They are good run defenders with good speed and traits to develop. Do you want the player who is younger with more potential at this current time? Or the player with more experience and has shown to have an okay floor as a starter at the NFL level? Only time will tell which poison Jim Harbaugh and company decide to drink.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


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