Philip Rivers is a veteran who hasn't showed signs of slowing down despite being well into his 30's. Tyrod Taylor might be the safest backup QB in the league. Rookie Easton Stick won a National Championship at NDSU and ran a pro style offense.
If Melvin Gordon plays for the Bolts this season he is a legitimate dual threat who is highly productive. Austin Ekeler is a decent backup who had good production while Gordon was injured but he is more of a pass catcher/ third down back. Justin Jackson showed some ability and had crazy production in college but he isn't an RB1 candidate. If Gordon doesn't play this grade drops significantly.
Protection & Blocking
The Chargers O-line got exposed in the playoffs, particularly the right side. They only spent one draft pick on their O-line and that was developmental prospect Trey Pipkins (T) from D-2 Sioux Falls. Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney, & Michael Schofield will compete at guard, while Pipkins will compete with Sam Tevi who was frankly awful last year at RT. Left tackle Russell Okung and center Mike Pouncey are good players.
Keenan Allen was just named the 38th best player in the NFL Top 100 countdown. Mike Williams has had injury issues but is a beast when healthy. Artavis Scott and Travis Benjamin are playmakers in the slot. UDFA WR Jason Moore is a 6'3 TD machine from a D-2 school who could fill the Tyrell Williams role. TE Hunter Henry is a great receiving threat.
Big Play Ability
Red Zone Success
Skills Analysis Notes
Their WRs are mostly big guys but they have some wheels. Travis Benjamin is a burner. At RB, Gordon is a home run threat and Ekeler is a small, quick cutter. The offense will be plenty productive with Rivers at the helm and this group of playmakers. Again, Melvin Gordon's contract situation could cost the team if he decides not to play this year. They should still be able to create big plays regardless with their offense. The offensive consistency will depend on how their O-line plays and if they can keep Rivers upright. The Chargers are built to win in the red zone with their skill position players. Gordon is a TD machine, Mike Williams can win any jump ball, Keenan Allen is always open, and Hunter Henry is a threat as a pass catcher and blocker.
One of the league's best pass rush duo in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Brandon Mebane and 2019 1st rounder Jerry Tillery should man the DT spots well. They have good depth at DT as well. There isn't much depth at DE.
Thomas Davis, Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White, and Drue Tranquill, and Emeke Egbule make up a diverse group of LBs. Pro-bowler Adrian Philips is a hybrid guy. All are worthy of time in certain spots but the rookies Tranquill and Egbule might be the odd men out and end up being special teamers. This group is really good.
Casey Hayward, Desmond King, Derwin James, Rayshawn Jenkins, and 2nd rounder Nasir Adderley are a formidable secondary with a lot of range and ball skills. The #2 corner is an iffy spot, they started Trevor Williams and Michael Davis when Williams got hurt. Adrian Philips is a hybrid player who rotates at safety and LB. Desmond King was exclusively a slot corner in 2018.
Passing Game Defense
Stopping the Run
Controlling Field Position
Stopping The Big Play
Skills Analysis Notes
They have a highly skilled secondary and an elite duo of pass rushers so they should be good at limiting pass offense. Their DTs should be good run stuffers and their LBs are strong tacklers with diverse abilities, but Bosa and Ingram are more pass rushers than run stoppers. Their offense should put together a lot of yards and good drives and this defense is going to be really good at getting off the field. With the stacked safety position, depth at LB, and quality starters on the line, there shouldn't be much room for big plays against this defense. The #2 corner spot might be an are of concern for big plays and if teams run at the DEs they could get some 1-on-1 opportunities for their RBs.
Special Teams and Coaching
Overall Unit Analysis
Michael Badgley only missed one FG in 2018 and it was from 50+. Only one missed extra point. The Chargers were dead last in Net punting last year. There should be a training camp battle there. Desmond King was a fantastic returner last year. They were pretty good at kickoff coverage and they had to be because they allowed 61 kicks to be returned, 19 more than the next highest team. Their punt coverage average is skewed by a 91 yard return TD but that also can't happen.
Overall Coaching / School Analysis
One of the top overall coaching staffs in the league lead by HC Anthony Lynn, OC Ken Whisenhunt (a former HC), and DC Gus Bradley. They have brought the Chargers to a place where they are considered one of the favorites to win a Super Bowl in 2019. They have a clear plan and it is easy to see the direction they want the team to go. They won a playoff game last year but now they have to build on it.
Overall Team Grade
I really like the way the Chargers have built their roster by using a young core on defense sprinkled with vets, and then having vets lead the most valuable positions on offense. That being said, they have two gaping holes that are spots for concern. The right side of the O-line was awful in the playoffs, and the second cornerback spot has 2 unproven and inconsistent options. They didn't immediately address these holes in the draft or free agency so we'll see how that pans out. Still, this roster is littered with talent.
Last season, did the team meet your expectations?
Outperformed my Expectations
If Melvin Gordon plays, I think the Chargers have a legitimate shot this year at going to a Super Bowl, but I think they need to win their own division to do it and lock up homefield and a bye week, despite the fact that they were road warriors last year. Their coaching staff and their athletes can compete with anyone in the league. The Chiefs might be their biggest obstacle at to getting the Super Bowl because their offensive firepower gets a slight edge on the Chargers D, but not by much. Also, the Patriots, who blew them out last year, are going to be back again as usual. I think it will be a similar season as last year, but not as much of a surprise now.