The Chargers were on the brink of a playoff appearance last year, as their season ended in heartbreak fashion. Although Los Angeles had talented players on the roster, they improved in positions of need by making big moves in free agency and via trade.
Below, we will break down each position group of the Chargers.
QB: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick, Brandon Peters
Explanation: Led by the electric young QB, Justin Herbert is going into his third year. He has been very successful thus far and is perfectly equipped to elevate this roster to the next level. Chase Daniel is a formidable backup, as a player who has made a career for himself doing so.
RB: Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree III, Leddie Brown, Kevin Marks Jr
Explanation: When healthy, Austin Ekeler is the perfect back for the high-octane play by Justin Herbert. He is excellent in both the run and pass games, as he is coming off a season where he led the league in total TDs. Behind Ekeler is an interesting depth group led by Isaiah Spiller, who they drafted in the fourth round, even though he was projected to go much earlier.
WR: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Jaylen Guyton, Michael Bandy, DeAndre Carter, Joe Reed, Jason Moore Jr, Trevon Bradford, Maurice Ffrench
Explanation: The duo of Keenan Allen and, newly extended, Mike Williams is one of the best in the whole league, when they are both healthy. Allen is a technician route runner and is very reliable, while Mike Williams brings the explosive deep threat skillset to the table. While Palmer and Guyton provide some sufficient depth, the rest of the group needs to have someone step up to keep up with the quality of weapons in the AFC West.
TE: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr, Tre’ McKitty, Hunter Kampmoyer, Erik Krommenhoek, Stone Smartt
Explanation: The Chargers upgraded this position in the offseason by signing Gerald Everett to add to a group of Parham Jr and McKitty. That said, the group has some depth and talent but does not have a player in the group that is a consistent mismatch for opposing defenses.
OL: Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson, Storm Norton, Trey Pipkins III, Jamaree Salyer, Will Clapp, Brenden Jaimes, Foster Sarell, Zack Bailey, Ryan Hunter, Andrew Trainer, Isaac Weaver
Explanation: One of the more impressive groups on the roster, the OL was completely rebuilt from 2020 to 2021, and is only improving going forward. Rashawn Slater is going into year two after his very impressive rookie season, while Feiler played well last season and Linsley is coming off a Pro Bowl selection. There is a bit of unknown with Zion Johnson, but he was a first-round pick and should have success early. Storm Norton struggled a bit down the stretch so he must improve, while the depth along the rest of the OL may be a bit questionable, which is why their grade is not higher.
DL: Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Jerry Tillery, Austin Johnson, Otito Ogbonnia, Christian Covington, Breiden Fehoko, Chris Rumph II, Morgan Fox, Andrew Brown, Joe Gaziano, Emeke Egbule, Jamal Davis II, Forrest Merrill, Ty Shelby,
Explanation: This was a clear group of weaknesses in 2021, especially against the run, so it was the center of improvements this offseason. First, Los Angeles made a trade to pair Khalil Mack with Joey Bosa, forming one of, if not, the best pass rush duo in the whole league. Along the interior, where the real issues lay, the Chargers signed Sebastian Joseph-Day and drafted Otito Ogbonnia. While the group is much improved, there are still questions on the interior between Jerry Tillery and Austin Johnson.
LB: Drue Tranquill, Kenneth Murray Jr, Kyle Van Noy, Nick Niemann, Troy Reeder, Cole Christiansen, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Damon Lloyd, Tyreek Maddox-Williams
Explanation: The LB group is perhaps the weakest group on the Chargers, as the play of this group could be the only thing holding back this talented defense. Kenneth Murray has struggled in his first two seasons and must take the next step in his development, while Drue Tranquill will also need to grow going into his fourth season and first one as a full-time starter. Bringing in Kyle Van Noy should help the group, but its grade is contingent on the youth at the position.
CB: J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr, Bryce Callahan, Michael Davis, Tevaughn Campbell, Ja’Sir Taylor, Kemon Hall, Deane Leonard, Brandon Sebastian
Explanation: Los Angeles added J.C. Jackson in what was one of the biggest FA signings of the offseason. Jackson can transform this defense and allow for the rest of the secondary to have success. Outside of Jackson, Bryce Callahan was also signed and has had success at his past stops, he just has been unable to consistently stay on the field. Asante Samuel Jr will also step into a bigger role this year, as his growth will be crucial to the performance of the relatively thin CB group.
S: Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, JT Woods, Alohi Gilman, Ben DeLuca, Mark Webb Jr, Skyler Thomas, Raheem Layne
Explanation: When Derwin James has been healthy, he has been one of the best defensive weapons in the whole league. Adding defensive difference makers in other positions around him will only improve his play. Nasir Adderley has improved each year throughout his career, so another leap this year will make the safety group one of the best in the league. JT Woods, their third-round pick this season, adds some much-needed depth to the group.