When you think about the San Diego Chargers, star names like Antonio Gates, Ladainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman and Philip Rivers come to mind.
But a team is made up of more then just star players, many key role players go under the radar and the casual fan might never notice them, but they are vital to a team.
All but one of these players are very versatile and contribute in many different and unique ways.
With that in mind, I will go through the five most under appreciated players on the Chargers squad in order of value to the team, with five being the least important to one being the most important.
Round Drafted (Year, College): Undrafted (2006, Syracuse)
Gregory was a college corner converted into a safety. You wouldn't think he was a football player if you saw him on the street, but he is a key player on the Chargers team. After the draft, he earned a spot on the practice squad as an UDFA.
Gregory quickly ascended to the active roster, only two weeks into the 2006 season, and became a key contributer on special teams. Although he is listed as a CB/SAF he mostly plays the strong safety position.
Although he lacks the size to ever develop into a full time starter, he is key in passing situations and as the third safety.
Last year he backed up Clinton Hart during the beginning of the year but began to supplant him in passing situations as the year went on.
He makes up for his lack of athleticism with plenty of film study and is a heady player. Last year in week 14 against Oakland, starting in place of an injured Hart, he recorded 7 tackles and made a third down stop when tackling Zach Miller short of the first down.
He said the play was attributed to film study, and it obviously was as you can see when watching the play, Gregory immediately knew what was happening and made the stop.
He's not flashy, but he gets the job done and isn't afraid of contact.
Position: Defensive End/ Tackle
Round Drafted (Year, College): Round 7 (2004, Nebraska)
Ryon Bingham is a rotation player on the Chargers defensive line whose play usually goes unnoticed. Last year Bingham spelled Igor Olshansky at right-end and gave Jamal Williams a breather from time at the defensive tackle position.
With Binghams versatility it allows the bolts to activate less d-lineman because he can back up two positions at once.
Bingham is a tough, try hard guy. He doesn't cause much of a pass rush but is stout against the run, and always gives 110 percent, and although he is not a starter, he sees plenty of playing time.
Favored by management because of his hard work ethic and ability to steadily improve every season, Bingham finally has a chance to start at RE.
His competition will be rookie Vaughn Martin and veteran Jacques Cesaire, because of the departure of Igor (the teams former starting RE).
It's possible the Chargers could start him on first and second downs (running downs) and then move him inside on third downs (passing downs) while having Cesaire occupy the right-end spot.
Position: Wide Receiver
Round Drafted (Year, College): Undrafted (2004, Wyoming)
Floyd joined the team as a UDFA after the 2004 draft. Floyd is the only player in this slideshow that is a one trick pony; as in, he cant play special teams really only does one thing, but his recieveing skills are quite underrated.
Malcom quickly became a favorite target of Philip Rivers right out of college because with Drew Brees on the team at the same time as Rivers, it forced Rivers to play with the second team during practice, also where Floyd played.
Floyd has excellent hands and always seems to make a spectacular catch. He has long arms, big hands with a lanky frame which allows him to use his athleticism and go up for the ball beating most corners.
He is tough, as evident by his punctured lung he received in the Chiefs game which unfortunately slowed him for the rest of the season.
It is believed he was injured in the first quarter but he did play the entire game.
He is a fine receiver with a great work ethic which he showed by beating out first rounder Buster Davis for the number three receiver role during the season.
Round Drafted (Year, College): Round 7 (2007, Florida)
Coming out of college a year early, Siler was expected to be a mid round pick but but dropped all the way to Chargers in the seventh round. Brandon trained before the draft with Ray Lewis, which appears to have paid off in the long run.
Siler quickly earned a spot on the Chargers roster due to his excellent play on special teams and his hard hitting. He plays with a lot of passion and intensity.
Recently he has become the Chargers main goal-line linebacker. Due to his downhill attacking, strength and power he has made many stops on the one yard line which would have resulted in touchdowns if he wasn't in the game.
Position: Tight End/ H-back
Round Drafted (Year, College): Round 4, (2001, Arizona)
Manumaleuna was originally drafted by the St. Louis Rams but was traded to the Chargers for a forth round pick during the 2006 NFL draft.
The big man is much more valuable then he gets credit for, but when your a tight end who plays on the same team as Antonio Gates that can happen.
Brandon is practically another line-man when blocking for the run game or protecting in the pass game.
He often lines up as fullback during power running situations and blocks much better the Hester, the teams starting fullback. But don't let his blocking ability fool you, he has naturally soft hands, he brings in just about anything thrown to him and has the strength to gain yards after contact.
There was a play at the end of the season against the Broncos where Manumaleuna made a catch a couple yards short of the first down.
Manumaleuna was instantly hit by a defensive back, who you could tell used with all his power, but Brandon barely moved.
He then proceeded to run a couple more yards up field and get the first down. Manumaleuna is the perfect complement for Antonio Gates because they bring such different elements to the game.
Hope you enjoyed.
Please let me know how you feel about the article, your feedback and comments are greatly appreciated.
(Note: I left out Mike Scifres intentionally, not because he isn't important, quite the contrary, I just believe after his playoff performance against the Colts people finally relized how valuable, and talented, he really is; therefore he really isn't under appreciated.)