San Diego Chargers Undrafted Free Agents: Tracking the Latest Signings
The San Diego Chargers confirmed their undrafted free-agent signings, which includes a running back, two nose tackles, two receivers, two tight ends, two offensive tackles, five defensive backs, three linebackers, two defensive ends and a punter.
From this you can tell where the Chargers feel they could use depth and the probability that one makes the roster. Defensive back and nose tackle are heavy on signings, and the Chargers also got one of the most coveted undrafted free-agent running backs. The punter is just a camp leg to keep Mike Scifres fresh.
Every year one or two undrafted players make the Chargers' roster, which is about average around the NFL. Last season, offensive tackle Michael Harris made the team. Several players in this undrafted crop have a chance to make the roster in San Diego.
RB Michael Hill
The Chargers hosted Michael Hill for a visit leading up to the draft, and that visit may have gone a long way into securing his services. According to packerreport.com, Hill received 14 offers and chose to sign with the Chargers.
Hill was the Division II rushing leader last season with 2186 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also had 21 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns through the air and was the Harlon Hill Trophy runner-up.
Danny Woodhead won the Harlon Hill Trophy twice, and Bernard Scott won it once and was also a runner up to Woodhead, so there's some history of the top running back in Division II football making it in the NFL. Joique Bell has is playing for his fourth team in the NFL, but he also won the award, which is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Hill is a 5'10", 210-pound running back with a 40-yard dash time of 4.60 seconds, but he's talent enough to push for a roster spot behind Ryan Mathews and Woodhead. Running backs frequently come out of nowhere to become solid NFL starters, so don't be surprised if Hill gets that opportunity eventually.
NT Kwame Geathers
Kwame Geathers is just the next in a long line of Geathers to play in the NFL.
His father was drafted in the third round in the 1981 NFL Draft, but an injury ended his career. His uncle, James "Jumpy" Geathers, played in the NFL for 13 years, and his two brothers currently play in the NFL. Robert Jr. has spent the last nine years with the Cincinnati Bengals, and his other brother Clifton currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Geathers is a massive man, just like his brothers, father and uncle—342 pounds and 6'5" with 35.25" arms. The Chargers coincidentally let Aubrayo Franklin and Antonio Garay go this offseason and are leaning on Cam Thomas to be the starter at nose tackle.
The big guys up front get tired, and you usually need more than one to properly execute the 3-4 defense. It's fortunate that the Chargers were able to sign Geathers to fill a need. Geathers has a chance to make the roster and isn't purely space eater either.
A guy like Geathers can open things up for Donald Butler and new inside linebacker Manti Te'o, which is vital for San Diego's defense. Geathers will have some competition, but he's going to have a very good chance to make the team in 2013.
NT Byron Jerideau
South Carolina sent Devin Taylor to the NFL this season and will have mega prospect Jadeveon Clowney coming out next year, but between the two was nose tackle Byron Jerideau. At 6'0" and 334 pounds, Jerideau has the size to play the nose tackle position in the NFL, and the only question is if he possesses the athleticism.
Jerideau may have been overshadowed, but he landed with a team that needs a backup nose tackle pretty badly. One of Jerideau or Geathers are probably going to make the roster as the team is currently constructed. It's possible that both rookies could make the final squad because of how tired the big guys get up front.
Jerideau will have to prove that he's athletic enough to handle NFL blockers, but he'll be in a competition with Geathers to be productive and keep their weight in the proper range. Good nose tackles are hard to find, but the Chargers may have found a pair of quality rotational nose tackles after the draft.
WR Luke Tasker
The Chargers are going heavy on the bloodlines with their undrafted free agents as Luke Tasker is the son of Steve Tasker, who played in the NFL for 14 years, was a great on special teams and is now a broadcaster for CBS.
Tasker went to Cornell and doesn't have the best measurables or college production, so it's unclear if the Chargers will get much out of this pickup. Luke is bigger than his father at 5'11" and 190 pounds and will probably need to be great on special teams, like his father, to make the squad.
With so many players and so much money tied up in the wide receiver position in San Diego, Tasker's best bet is probably to make the practice squad. Tasker is an interesting signing because of who he is, but not so interesting for his skills or ability to force his way onto the roster.
OT Nick Becton
The Chargers needed to address the left tackle position and failed to do so during the draft, but Nick Becton is a good consolation price. Becton has good size at 6'5" and 323 pounds with a leaner build than many linemen his size.
The knock on Becton per his NFL.com profile is that he started just one year at left tackle. Most of Becton's weaknesses are correctable flaws and he has a chance to make the roster as a reserve tackle in 2013.
At this point there is only one quality left tackle available and the Chiefs aren't going to trade Branden Albert to a division rival. The Chargers are going to have to go with King Dunlap on the left side while they search for a long-term replacement. Becton could be that long-term replacement once he gets stronger and refines his game.
OT Randy Richards
The Chargers are adding offensive tackles in the hope that they can find one gem that slips through the cracks. Randy Richards is 6'4" and 310 pounds with an athletic build and long arms.
Richards has a mean streak and dominated FCS competition, but the leap in competition is going to be significant. Richards also has a tendency to bend at the waist and not at the knees and those types weaknesses will be exposed in the NFL.
Since Richards is light on his feet and aggressive, he could transition to guard if he can't learn to bend his knees and sit in his stance in pass protection and play with a lower pad level in the run game. With good coaching, Richards has a chance to make the roster in San Diego.
DB Jahleel Addae
A lot of people know that Eric Fisher—the No. 1 draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft—played college football for Central Michigan. What you may not know is that safety Jahleel Addae was a pretty good prospect as well.
Addae is 5'11" and weighs 200 pounds, but he's not the fastest guy. It seems that speed is the one thing NFL teams will gamble on in the draft if the player doesn't come out of one of the big football conferences.
Addae has a chance to be a steal for the Chargers as he was playmaker with good instincts for Central Michigan over the past three years. Addae was a three-year starters and racked up over 300 tackles in his career with eight interceptions and 21 passes defensed.
Richard Santamaria has a breakdown of his college production showing the kind of plays Addae made as a Chippewa.
DB Greg Brown
Greg Brown was a solid starter at cornerback for Kansas for the past two seasons, but his 4.62-second 40-yard dash time likely kept him off of most team's radars. However, there is much more to speed in the NFL than running in a straight line and Brown could also transition to safety.
Brown's scouting report per draftinsider.net:
Positive: Nice-sized cornerback with a developing game. Aggressive, mixes it up with opponents, and displays a good feel for coverage. Stays with opponents out of breaks, tracks the pass in the air, and gets vertical to defend the throw. Gets positioning on opponents and effectively reads the quarterbacks eyes then makes his move to the throw. Quick up the field to defend the run or screen passes.
Negative: Bites on receiver's moves and gets beat deep. Must improve the consistency of his backpedal.
It's easy to see why the Chargers took a chance on this guy if this scouting report is accurate. Brown could make the roster on special teams and eventually work his way into a more prominent role if he continues to develop and improve his technique.
DB Marcus Cromartie
Marcus Cromartie has a good combination of size and speed at 6'0" and 195 pounds with a 40-yard dash at his pro day in the 4.4-second range. He is not related to Antonio or Dominique, but he does boast a similar build.
The Chargers need secondary help after losing both of their starters last year and only adding one cornerback through the draft or free agency. The other cornerbacks on the roster have talent, but are unproven. For that reason, Cromartie is going to have a chance to make the team.
DB Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson had a productive career at Purdue and was invited to the combine. At 5-foot-9 scouts were probably looking for more speed than the 4.65-second 40-yard dash he posted along with otherwise average workout numbers.
Johnson's speed didn't get him an extra look for some teams as it would have if he was a burner. Instead Johnson went undrafted and could prove to be a fortunate find for the Chargers.
NFL.com's scouting reports on Johnson:
This ultra-confident and competitive corner is flying under the radar a bit playing for a mediocre Purdue squad without the history of providing NFL talent. Johnson, a high school baseball and football star, has played well over the past few years, and find a niche in a dime cornerback role.
Johnson's best fit is as a dime cornerback if he develops and potentially as a nickel against smaller receivers. In the pass-heavy NFL, you need a deep secondary capable of covering offenses with diverse personnel.
DB Kenny Okoro
The Chargers have done a good job bringing in cornerbacks with a diverse set of skills to compete with Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright at cornerback. Kenny Okoro has been a very productive cover guy at Wake Forest the last couple of years.
Okoro is 6'0", 190 pounds and has a chisel physique. More importantly, he's a guy that will have a chance on the NFL if he can clean up his technique.
Rob Rang of CBS had a brief, but positive analysis of Okoro:
Okoro has good size and length for the position, doing a nice job with his body positioning and awareness to make plays on the ball. He needs to clean up his footwork and stay balanced in his drops, but his defensive smarts and anticipation will earn him a shot at the next level.
Anticipation and instincts are vastly underrated traits for a defensive back. One of the reasons Ed Reed is still playing in the NFL is because he has amazing anticipation and instincts and not because he's still the most physically gifted guys.
According to Dane Brugler of CBS, Okoro had 38 passes defensed and eight interceptions in his college career. Okoro is going to have a chance in the NFL and the Chargers are giving him his first crack.
LB Frank Beltre
Frank Beltre was a defensive end for Towson University that will try to convert to outside linebacker. Beltre's college profile listed him at 6'2" and 225 pounds which is a lot closer to the size of an NFL safety than it is a defensive end.
Despite bulking up to 240 pounds, Beltre still timed well at the Super Regional Combine in Dallas. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Beltre ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 second and the three-cone drill in 6.99 seconds.
Undrafted free agents don't carry much risk, which is why Beltre is getting a chance even though he is from a small school and the odds are stacked against him.
LB Daniel Molls
Dan Molls is the definition of a football player, but he lacked the athletic traits to be a draft pick. Molls is the type of guy you want to bring to training camp and who makes every player around him better with his passion for the game.
Molls 6'0" and 238 pounds and was hyper productive in college because of his motor. Molls led the nation in tackles with 166 last year, so you know he craves contact.
Every football coach is going to love Molls and it will be interesting to see if he can force his way onto the roster on special teams while backing up Donald Butler and Manti Te'o at inside linebacker.
LB Devan Walker
The Chargers know they need depth at outside linebacker and Devan Walker out of Southeast Louisiana is another solid prospect that could end up making the roster in San Diego if he beats out some of the other undrafted guys. It would be surprising if one undrafted player didn't make the roster at the position at this point.
Walker is 6'2" and 236 pounds and he thrives as a pass-rusher having converted from defensive end to linebacker his senior year. The Chargers clearly think FCS players are worth the gamble if they test well athletically.
DE Jamarkus McFarland
Jamarkus McFarland out of Oklahoma is 6'2" and around 300 pounds (weight listings vary) and projects to defensive end for the Chargers. Much like many of the prospects the Chargers have signed, McFarland's biggest issues are all related to his technique.
McFarland is a quick big man that is a hard worker and just needs to figure out how to use his hands, coordinate his feet and play with proper pad level.
NFL.com gave McFarland a draftable grade and all the weaknesses on his scouting report are correctable with good coaching and time. McFarland was a top recruit coming out of high school.