Young hopeful Jeremy Williams shines with a 93 yard return for a touchdown
The next two days will be a flurry of activity for the staff of the San Diego Chargers. September 4th is decision day, when active rosters must be narrowed down to the final 53.
With the final preseason game in the books, the Chargers organization has a lot to think about with the current crop of 75.
There is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, both developed and developing, and there will most certainly be some hard decisions and some surprises, such as last year when young hopeful, and fan favorite, Charly Martin was cut and left off of the practice squad, only to be picked up by Carolina.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what the roster should look like come Saturday afternoon.
*Note: Slide show has been updated to account for the recent trade for Patrick Crayton, as well as my boneheaded mistake in leaving out the specialists.
(1) Philip Rivers
(2) Billy Volek
(3) Jonathan Crompton
Thoughts: The quarterback position is the most solidified position on the San Diego Chargers' roster.
-Philip Rivers is a Pro Bowl talent, and should be a big factor in how the Chargers fare in the playoffs.
-Billy Volek, despite the ugly side shown in the Chargers' final preseason game, is one of the league's best back up players. Chargers fans should be happy that Volek is still around, and there should be nothing to fear if he must step in for Rivers.
-Jonathan Crompton is Norv Turner's pet project, just like Charlie Whitehurst was. Crompton showed flashes of future potential in his final preseason performance, and should develop well behind Rivers and Volek.
(1) Ryan Mathews
(2) Darren Sproles
(3) Curtis Brinkley
(1) Shawnbrey McNeal
Thoughts: What a terrifying group of running backs. These three should place the San Diego Chargers easily back in the top 15 in rushing offense.
- Ryan Mathews has everyone cheering on AJ Smith for his shrewd dealing during the 2010 NFL Draft. Mathews is the real deal.
- Darren Sproles is still a fantastic weapon. He will be used in the same capacity that he was in 2009, and will certainly remain as effective. However, since he is on the franchise tag right now, and continues to seek a long term contract, Sproles will likely not return to San Diego next year, much to the dismay of Chargers fans.
- Curtis Brinkley stole the show in his final preseason showcase. He has shown that he can carry the load when it is required of him, and he will do well replacing Darren Sproles when Sproles leaves San Diego for better opportunities.
- Shawnbrey McNeal just didn't show enough. He was an average runner and an average return man.
(1) Mike Tolbert
(2) Jacob Hester
(1) Billy Latsko
Thoughts: Are these guys really fullbacks? They sure don't seem like it.
- Now everyone knows why the San Diego Chargers' staff has been so high on Mike Tolbert this off season. Tolbert blocks like a fullback, but runs and catches like a running back. Tolbert will be a major impact player this year.
- I must retract my earlier statements about Jacob Hester. He has certainly earned his future with the San Diego Chargers. He can run, jump, block, and catch. He can also make big plays on special teams.
- Billy Latsko has been a disappointment. He has blocked well at some points, but he was too easily pushed around. He has good hands, but ultimately he did not show enough to earn a spot.
(1) Malcom Floyd
(2) Legedu Naanee
(3) Patrick Crayton
(4) Craig 'Buster' Davis
(5) Seyi Ajirotutu
(1) Josh Reed
(2) Richard Goodman - Practice Squad
(3) Jeremy Williams - Practice Squad
Thoughts: Who says the San Diego Chargers need Vincent Jackson to survive?
- Malcom Floyd is playing very well. Expect him to be used just as often as Antonio Gates
- Legedu Naanee has been one of the most impressive players this off season. He will be a deadly weapon as an under-the-radar type player this year.
- Provided he stays healthy, Buster Davis should contribute significantly to this offense. He has shown flashes of the talent he promised when he was drafted in 2007.
- Seyi Ajirotutu could be the next Vincent Jackson. He has great hands, runs decent routes, and has excellent body control. He could end up fighting for the number three spot with Buster Davis.
- With the recent trade for Patrick Crayton, the Chargers suddenly find themselves loaded on receivers. Unfortunately, it seems like, rather than carry six deep on WRs, Jeremy Williams may not make the cut. This hurts me, because I really like Williams, but this seems like the most likely scenario.
(1) Antonio Gates
(2) Randy McMichael
(3) Kris Wilson
(1) Richie Brockel
(2) Dedrick Epps - Practice Squad
Thoughts: Philip Rivers will have some solid options over the middle.
- No explanation necessary for Antonio Gates. He is a future Hall of Famer. End of story.
- Randy McMichael was a great pickup. He blocks well, catches well, and is enough of a playmaker to make a difference, and perhaps allow the Chargers to use a two tight end set more often.
- Dedrick Epps showed some talent in the final preseason game. However, with the emergence of Randy McMichael as an offensive weapon, the Chargers need a blocking TE, and Epps isn't quite ready for that. I would expect him to clear waivers and spend some time on the practice squad before eventually being elevated to the active roster.
LT: (1) Brandyn Dombrowski, (2) Nic Richmond
LG: (1) Kris Dielman, (2) Tyronne Green
C: (1) Nick Hardwick, (2) Scott Mruczkowski
RG: (1) Louis Vasquez, (2) Cameron Stephenson
RT: (1) Jeromey Clary, (2) Brady Bond
(1) Ryan Otterson
(2) Corey Clark
(3) Jeff Hansen - Practice Squad
Thoughts: The offensive line is an interesting situation for the San Diego Chargers. The starters will do well, but the depth isn't as solid as one would hope.
- I fully expect Marcus McNeill to be back on the field within the first few weeks of the regular season. If that becomes reality, expect Brandyn Dombrowski to be moved to right tackle, and expect Ryan Otterson to be cut to compensate.
- Jeromey Clary is the only truly worrisome part of the offensive line. While his play has been decent, he has had a habit of committing penalties, which could really hurt the Chargers.
- While Kris Dielman certainly does have a few years left in him, it never hurts to think about the future. Jeff Hansen could eventually be a suitable backup, or even a starter.
DE: (1) Luis Castillo, (2) Jacques Cesaire, (3) Travis Johnson, (4) Vaughn Martin
DT: (1) Cam Thomas, (2) Ogemdi Nwagbuo, (3) Vaughn Martin
(1) Alphonso Boone, (2) Derrick Jones - Practice Squad, (3) Antonio Garay
Thoughts: This group should vastly improve the Chargers' poor 2009 run defense.
- Luis Castillo is the only defensive lineman safe in his job.
- This depth chart is hard to predict, but cutting Alphonso Boone seems logical. With Jacques Cesaire playing well enough to start at least 50% of a game, rotational depth becomes less about holding the line down and more about bringing up young talent.
- Cam Thomas has played very well this off season, drawing double teams and powering lineman back into the offensive backfield. Expect him to see the field a lot.
- I'm still not sold on Vaughn Martin being a defensive end. At 6'4" and 330 lbs, he is sure built like a defensive tackle. Should he continue to develop well, he could be a versatile weapon on the line.
- I chose Derrick Jones over Alphonso Boone ultimately for his performance in the San Diego Chargers' final preseason game. Jones is big, fast, and does a great job moving inside and outside of offensive linemen to get into the backfield. However, I could see Jones being chosen for practice squad duty for another year while Alphonso Boone runs out his contract.
OLB: (1) Shawne Merriman, (2) Shaun Phillips, (3) Jyles Tucker, (4) Larry English, (5) Antwan Applewhite
ILB: (1) Stephen Cooper, (2) Kevin Burnett, (3) Brandon Siler, (4) James Holt
(1) Brandon Lang - Practice Squad
(2) Mike Nixon
(3) Kion Wilson - Practice Squad
Thoughts: Bottom line is, this group doesn't need Shawne Merriman to be successful.
- I'm a big fan of Jyles Tucker. He's fast, he has some good moves, and he plays well in coverage. He is a great weapon.
- The battle between Kevin Burnett and Brandon Siler will be interesting. Siler is more of a run stopper, whereas Burnett is more of a coverage player. Ultimately I expect Kevin Burnett to prevail, though.
- Antwan Applewhite has some talent. He has good play recognition, he is fast, and has shown himself capable in special teams in addition to his regular spot on defense.
- The fourth ILB spot is tough to call. With Donald Butler done for the season, the job is up for grabs. I decided on James Holt because, in addition to being special teams whiz, he has proven himself capable as both an inside and an outside linebacker.
(1) Quentin Jammer
(2) Antoine Cason
(3) Donald Strickland
(4) Fred Bennett
(5) Dante Hughes
(1) Traye Simmons, (2) Nathan Vasher
Thoughts: This is probably the hardest position to call.
- Antoine Cason is not playing well. His most glaring problem is that he is too soft. Don't be surprised if he loses his spot to Donald Strickland or Fred Bennett later in the season.
- I'm really high on Donald Strickland right now. The guy seems to be everywhere on defense. Expect him to be a great nickel corner, as well as a continual source of pressure on Cason.
- I also really like Fred Bennett. He came in, played tight coverage, and scored an interception on his first play. Great acquisition.
- I wouldn't be surprised if Nathan Vasher lost his job. Vasher doesn't seem to be in the same form as he used to, and offenses have tended to exploit that.
FS: (1) Eric Weddle, (2) Darrell Stuckey
SS: (1) Steve Gregory, (2) Paul Oliver
(1) Quinton Teal, (2) C.J. Spillman - Practice Squad
Thoughts: Oddly enough, it seems like the Chargers have both safety positions figured out.
- Steve Gregory has earned his starting spot this off season. Expect him to contribute early and often.
- Quinton Teal was brought on as somewhat of an afterthought if suitable depth at safety couldn't be found. Don't expect him to stay.
- Paul Oliver can be a great weapon. He has put some great pressure on quarterbacks this off season, and he has played very well against the run. He will certainly get some playing time this year.
K: (1) Nate Kaeding
P: (1) Mike Scifres
LS: (1) David Binn
Thoughts: These guys are givens. All very solid players, all locks to make the team.
Expect a lot of surprises on Saturday. While I have done my best to estimate the moves of the Chargers' organization, no one can truly understand what goes on the the minds of guys like AJ Smith.
Questions? Comments? Feel like I left someone out? Feel free to comment.