Early Projections for San Diego Chargers' Final 53-Man Roster
San Diego's stable of players reached the 90-man limit on May 10, but only the best 53 will be on the roster for the season opener on September 8.
With OTAs scheduled to begin on May 27, the Chargers have nearly four months to decide which players make the cut. For head coach Mike McCoy, the pressure will be on to put together another playoff-caliber team in 2014. On top of a difficult schedule, San Diego has to deal with a stacked division in the AFC West, which produced three playoff contenders in 2013.
Here goes the first of many predictions for the final 53-man roster.
Philip Rivers, 11th season
Led the league in completion percentage (69.5) and was voted the AP Comeback Player of the Year in 2013. Rivers passed for 4,478 yards and was just two touchdowns shy of tying his career high of 34 in 2008.
Kellen Clemens, 9th season
Brad Sorensen, 2nd season
Seventh-round draft choice who gave then-backup Charlie Whitehurst a real run for his money in the preseason. Could challenge Clemens for No. 2 spot.
Ryan Mathews, 5th season
Rushed for a career-high 1,255 yards, including six games with 100-plus yards. Mathews also set a career high with 285 carries, but the heavy workload took a toll on his body, as he failed to finish a full 16-game season for the fourth consecutive year.
Danny Woodhead, 7th season
More than 600 yards receiving and another 429 yards rushing as team's change-of-pace back. Woodhead finished second on team with 76 receptions and six TDs in 2013.
Donald Brown, 6th season
Free-agent pickup from Indianapolis who started just five games in 2013 but led team with six rushing touchdowns and 537 rushing yards. Brown will make up third member of San Diego's three-headed monster in the backfield.
Marion Grice, Rookie
Racked up 39 touchdowns and 3,045 all-purpose yards in 24 games played at Arizona State. Crowded backfield will limit his touches on offense, but Grice can have an immediate impact in return game.
David Johnson, 6th season
Spent time at tight end and fullback in four seasons with Pittsburgh. Missed all of 2012 with a knee injury and played just five games in 2013 because of an injured wrist. Johnson could fill team's need for a fullback.
Keenan Allen, 2nd season
Finished second in voting for AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and set team record for most receiving yards by a rookie with 1,046. Allen's breakout season will draw added attention from defenses in 2014.
Malcom Floyd, 9th season
Suffered season-ending neck injury from vicious hit in Week 2 against Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to the hit, Floyd was coming off of two straight seasons with more than 800 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
Eddie Royal, 7th season
Appeared in 15 games last season, which was a major improvement from the previous year when he was limited to just 10 because of injuries. Royal opened 2013 with three TDs on Monday Night Football, but his production was hot and cold the rest of the year.
Vincent Brown, 4th season
Somewhat disappointing performance after missing all of 2012 with an injury. Brown caught 41 passes and had just one TD despite making 12 starts.
Tevin Reese, Rookie
Twenty-one of his 24 career touchdowns at Baylor were of 40 yards or more. Reese is a former track runner with a recorded time of 4.31 in the 40-yard dash and could be the speedster the team is looking for.
Seyi Ajirotutu, 5th season
Was the hero in Week 12 with his game-winning touchdown catch as time expired. Ajirotutu is also a key contributor on special teams.
Antonio Gates, 12th season
Led the team in receptions with 77 and totaled 872 yards. Gates continues to build a tremendous career and could surpass the 10,000-yard mark with another 807 in 2014.
Ladarius Green, 3rd season
Really got going in the second half of the season, even scoring a touchdown in the team's postseason win over Cincinnati. Green paired with Gates gives the Chargers two vertical threats in the passing game.
John Phillips, 6th season
Was placed on injured reserve last December due to a knee injury, making just six starts. Phillips figures to return as San Diego's blocking tight end.
D.J. Fluker, 2nd season
After being selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Fluker stepped in at right tackle and started all 15 of the games he played in, even making an appearance at left tackle.
King Dunlap, 7th season
Played in just 11 games last season, which was a career low for the injury-prone tackle. Dunlap hasn't established himself as a long-term solution at left tackle, but he was an improvement from Mike Harris and Jared Gaither in 2012.
Nick Hardwick, 11th season
Managed to start all 16 games for a fourth straight year and has long been the anchor of San Diego's line.
Chad Rinehart, 7th season
Only 10 starts in 2013, yet he was granted a new two-year contract in the offseason. Rinehart is a decent starter at left guard, but he continues to struggle with injuries.
Jeromey Clary, 8th season
Made 15 starts at right guard, but his job may be in jeopardy with the arrival of Chris Watt.
Rich Ohrnberger, 6th season
Played in 13 games with one start last season, including an appearance in the postseason for the injured Hardwick.
Johnnie Troutman, 2nd season
Nine starts at left and right guard in 14 games played. Troutman was efficient in relief of Rinehart but struggled in the divisional round against Denver when he was asked to start in place of Clary.
Chris Watt, Rookie
Two-year starter at left guard for the Fighting Irish. If Watt can move to the right side, he'll be able to push Clary for a starting job.
Mike Harris, 3rd season
Made nine starts as an undrafted rookie in 2012. He struggled at times but had some positive moments as well. Missed most of 2013 with an ankle injury.
Corey Liuget, 4th season
Slight drop-off in numbers from 2012 season, but still a major contributor on defense. Liuget tallied 5.5 sacks and 42 tackles in 2013.
Kendall Reyes, 3rd season
Went from being a four-game starter in 2012 to a 16-game starter in 2013. Reyes has 10.5 sacks in just two seasons with the Chargers and makes up one half of the team's punishing duo with Liuget.
Sean Lissemore, 5th season
Was traded to San Diego last September from Dallas, where he started six games in three seasons. With Cam Thomas gone, Lissemore will step in as the team's starter.
Ryan Carrethers, Rookie
His 93 tackles in 2013 ranked third most among the nation's defensive linemen. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, Carrethers racked up 16 tackles all by himself.
Lawrence Guy, 4th season
Didn't see a lot of action on defense, but his long arms helped bat down three passes in 10 games played.
Kwame Geathers, 2nd season
Limited to just seven games in his rookie season. Geathers has the body to hold down the nose tackle spot, but Carrethers will be the favorite to lock down the job.
Dwight Freeney, 13th season
Torn quad in Week 4 cut his season short in San Diego. 2014 return will be highly anticipated as Freeney looks for his first sack in the regular season as a Charger.
Donald Butler, 5th season
Awarded with a big new contract in the offseason, but health has been a concern the past two seasons. Butler has missed seven games since 2012, but he continues to have an impact in every facet on defense (sacks, interceptions, tackles and pass deflections).
Jarret Johnson, 12th season
Career-low 11 games played in 2013, a rare occurrence for the usually durable veteran. Primarily known as a run-stopper, Johnson displayed some pass-rushing ability with three sacks.
Manti Te'o, 2nd season
Missed three games with a foot injury but progressed down the stretch. Te'o registered 61 tackles, including a seven-tackle outing in San Diego's thrilling win over Kansas City in Week 17.
Melvin Ingram, 3rd season
Promising rookie season set him up for success in year two but that was delayed by a torn ACL in OTAs. Ingram returned from the injury to play in four games during the regular season along with the postseason.
Jeremiah Attaochu, Rookie
Was one of the ACC's most disruptive pass-rushers during his time at Georgia Tech. Attaochu was so important that the team elected to trade away a fourth-round draft pick just to move up for his services.
Kavell Conner, 5th season
Once a featured starter of the Colts defense before he was replaced in 2013. Conner plays the run well and can step in at a moment's notice for either Butler or Te'o.
Reggie Walker, 6th season
Inserted into a starting role after injuries to Freeney and Ingram early in 2013. Walker had career highs in tackles (36) and sacks (three) in his first season with the Chargers.
Thomas Keiser, 4th season
Played just 12 games in two seasons with the Panthers, but he earned that total in just one with the Chargers. Keiser surprised with 4.5 sacks and came up with the game-sealing interception in San Diego's epic win over the Broncos on Thursday Night Football.
Jason Verrett, Rookie
Led the nation with 38 pass break-ups the past two seasons and was the co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. Verrett is only 5'9", but he'll challenge for a starting role inside and out.
Shareece Wright, 4th season
Had a career year with 54 tackles and nine pass deflections in 13 starts. Wright handled the team's No. 1 corner spot when Derek Cox was benched and matured in the process.
Richard Marshall, 9th season
Relieved Cox of his starting spot last season and made 71 tackles and six pass deflections. A good re-signing by the team given his experience.
Brandon Ghee, 5th season
Only 23 games played in three seasons with the Bengals due to durability issues. Signed in the offseason with the hope that he plays more like the Wake Forest standout who was drafted in the third round in 2010.
Steve Williams, 2nd season
A pectoral injury wiped out his rookie season with the team, a year in which he could have seen plenty of playing time. Williams hasn't played a snap in the NFL, but the Chargers will be looking to give every player a shot if it means fixing one of the league's worst passing defenses.
Eric Weddle, 8th season
Had one of his better seasons with 115 tackles, nine pass deflections, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Earl Thomas, Jairus Byrd, Eric Berry and Dashon Goldson may have passed him in pay, but Weddle continues to play at a high level for the Chargers.
Marcus Gilchrist, 4th season
Career year at safety after playing corner the previous two seasons. Gilchrist made 77 tackles and got his hands on two picks.
Darrell Stuckey, 5th season
Earned a well-deserved new contract in the offseason thanks to his strengths on special teams. One of the better gunners in the league.
Jahleel Addae, 2nd season
Played in all 16 games, even making two starts as an undrafted rookie. Stood out on special teams and in nickel packages.
Mike Scifres, 12th season
Scifres had the fourth-lowest number of punts last season with 56, but he made every one count with a net average of 43.2 yards.
Nick Novak, 7th season
Made good on his new contract by finishing fourth in the league with 34 made field goals.
Mike Windt, 5th season
Windt received a new four-year deal in the offseason and received high praise from Scifres, who said Windt was becoming "one of the best snappers in the game," according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego.