Better or Worse: Evaluating Chargers offense ahead of NFL draft

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Gavino Borquez
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Chargers lost a few of their starters from last season, but added some in correspondence via free agency.

But how do they compare now to after the 2020 regular season?

Let’s break it down by position, starting with the offense.

Quarterback

Offseason moves: Signed Chase Daniel as an unrestricted free agent from the Lions. Lost Tyrod Taylor as a UFA from the Texans.

Summary: The Chargers are locked in with their quarterback of the future, Justin Herbert. After losing Taylor to Houston, they turned their attention to Daniel, who’s familiar with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s system. Daniel isn’t as enticing as a player as Taylor, but he has been considered an ideal veteran mentor for young quarterbacks, which is what he will be, a preceptor to Herbert. Easton Stick, meanwhile, has gotten the short end of the stick, as he has limited experience after not having a preseason last year due to COVID-19. He will battle it out this year for a spot, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he is on the outside looking in, relegated to practice squad role or being released.

Verdict: Slightly better

Running Back

Offseason moves: Lost Kalen Ballage as an unrestricted free agent to the Steelers.

Summary: Ballage was serviceable when he was on the field last season, but despite the loss, the group remains in good shape. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are a solid one-two punch when they’re healthy and Joshua Kelley just needs to find his mojo. Ekeler will remain a do-it-all back. Jackson can be a threat in both the running and passing game as long as he can stay on the field. Kelley was a bright spot in training camp last year, but he dealt with fumbles and just couldn’t find a groove. I expect him to bounce back. The team might look to draft one late or bring in an undrafted free agent for competition.

Verdict: Same

Wide Receiver

Offseason moves: N/A

Summary: This group remains the same. The Chargers did the right thing by paying Keenan Allen last offseason after proving himself as a top-10 wideout yet again. Mike Williams is entering the final year of his contract. The team chose not to let him play on the fifth-year option because he’s thought highly of, both as a person and a player. Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson are ascending deep threats. Guyton is the No. 3 but after experiencing spurts of drops, Johnson could emerge in that role. After quiet seasons from Joe Reed and K.J. Hill, their contributions remain to be seen. Hill is the fifth wideout and Reed is hoping to establish himself as the kick returner and gadget piece offensively. Los Angeles could address the position in the draft, bringing in an explosive element.

Verdict: Same

Tight End

Offseason moves: Signed Jared Cook as an unrestricted free agent from Saints. Lost Hunter Henry as a UFA to the Patriots. Re-signed Stephen Anderson.

Summary: It wasn’t long before Henry was gone, being picked up by head coach Bill Belichick. In correspondence, the Chargers got Cook, who’s another guy familiar with Lombardi’s offense. Cook’s best playing days are behind him, but he stills offers a reliable option for the time being. While he’s more of a liability as a run blocker, he will offer some upside as a pass-catching option. Even before the signing of Cook, Parham likely wasn’t seen as someone capable of manning the full-time starting role. While he’s an intriguing receiving option and a mismatch in the red zone, his blocking still leaves a lot to be desired. That’s why the team re-signed Anderson, who’s the most superior blocker out of the bunch. Los Angeles could use one of their two third-round picks to take a guy like Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble, Miami’s Brevin Jordan, Duke’s Noah Gray or Georgia’s Tre McKitty.

Verdict: Slightly worse

Offensive line

Offseason moves: Signed Corey Linsley from Packers, Matt Feiler from Steelers and Oday Aboushi from Lions. Lost Dan Feeney to Jets, Sam Tevi to Colts, Cole Toner to Texans.

Summary: The Chargers knew their offensive line ranked near the bottom in both the pass and run-blocking departments and a good amount of their success lies in the hands of Herbert, which is why they made the point to build it from the ground up. Linsley was the most expensive signing, but he was the most vital as he is one of the best centers in the league. They have two new starting guards in Feiler and Aboushi. Bryan Bulaga is back to man the right tackle position. All that’s left is filling the left tackle void. Trey Pipkins is penciled in as the starter. Pipkins, the team’s third-round pick of 2019, has shown flashes but he’s still quite a bit away from being relied on in that role. Los Angeles also has Storm Norton on the roster, but he I believe he is nothing more than a swing option. In my opinion, it’s going to come down to Christian Darrisaw, Rashawn Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker and potentially Teven Jenkins with their first-round pick.

Verdict: Much better