The Chargers roster is loaded with potential breakout stars
It’s no secret that this year’s Chargers roster is stacked with young talent. Many of those young talents were a big reason the team was able to get as far as they did. The inexperience and lack of depth with some of the younger guys behind the starters started to show up against the patriots. This year however there are a handful of young talents bursting with potential. Some drafted fairly high some not drafted at all. There are several reasons why some of these players have yet to shine. Some may have suffered injuries that set them back, some a lack of playing time, and some well just simply seem to blossom after one full year of adjusting and being acclimated to the big league. None the less I have a few picks for break out candidates. Two of them I’m very high on and the others are simply a matter of seeing how the pre-season plays out in order to determine what their role may or may not be.
Top pick for offense:
My top pick for breakout candidate is one who has been held by back by both injury and a case of playing it too cautious afterwards. One man we have all been waiting to see more of for two seasons now, Forrest Lamp. Lamp was considered the best offensive tackle in the draft two years ago and was a highly anticipated addition until he tore his ACL in his rookie training camp. Last year upon his return the team played it cautious with Lamp and by the time the season had picked up momentum coach Lynn had opted to go with the core group on the line that started the season. Coach Lynn stated that he didn’t want to disrupt the chemistry of the blocking core. I for one think that is a fairly short sighted and lazy opinion as even at its best the right side of the line never seemed too dependable. While the team seems set on him being a guard even though he was a great talent at tackle it seems to make little difference because the team is in need of another guard and tackle. At both practices I have attended thus far Lamp has looked like the best offensive lineman on the team. The biggest running lanes were direct results of Lamps blocking. Given a healthy slate and a starting job Lamp will become a main stay along the line regardless of position.
Top pick for defense:
Second year man from N.C. State Justin Jones looks to be a force to be reckoned with in his second year. Jones was selected in the third round 84th overall and seems to be poised for a bigger role in his second year. While his numbers aren’t very impressive from his rookie year, his playing time was also inconsistent. His rookie grade according to pro football focus was a mere 51.9 and was much better on pass rush in comparison to run defense. Ultimately the team needs run stuffers up front more than anything, so I would like to see how he progresses in that area particularly. It was reported that Jones lost 20 pounds in the offseason with a changed diet and workout routine. Even with the pounds being shed, Jones actually looks bigger and looks much more solid and muscular. Theoretically the fact that he is lighter should help his mobility and possibly even his cardio since he doesn’t have to carry around as much weight. Teamates have been raving about Jones so far this pre-season saying how impressed they were by his play and work ethic so far. Center Mike Pouncey even said he thought Jones weighed more because he looks so much more muscular and some have even been comparing him as a baby Aaron Donald. We can only hope he is half as good.
My first honorable mention is third year undrafted corner Michael Davis. Davis has the prototypical desired size for the corner position in Gus Bradley’s system. Davis played really well down the stretch of last season and tallied a total of 768 total snaps on the season. He graded out in total defensive grade at 71.2 overall. That number dosnt tell you how valuable he was in key games at the end of the season. Having that many total snaps not only helps to speed up the development of a player but typically a player’s third season is supposed to be his “blossom” year. Historically speaking anyway! All of that plus you have to factor in the fact that his biggest competition, Trevor Williams, has a lingering injury for the second season in a row and i would be willing to bet a bag that Williams is ready to explode on the national scene.
Artavis Scott at the wide receiver position was my pick last year. This year I was going to go with Dylan Cantrell but right in front of my own eyes he got hurt making a great down field back shoulder snag. So with Cantrell being hampered by injury im going to once again go with Artavis Scott. He seemed like the no brainer for the final roster and break out rotational star in the wide receiver core last year before a severe ankle injury stole his season away. Scott not only will make for a great slot receiver he can also return kicks which will help to preserve Desmond King long term. Scott is almost a shorter version of Keenan Allen in that he is a great route runner who lacks great straight away speed but gifted with great agility and great route running.
My third honorable mention would be running back Justin Jackson. The door has been left open for opportunity for Jackson in the wake of the Melvin Gordon situation. I believe Jackson has what it takes to be an early down and shortage running back in the NFL. This would also allow Austin Ekeler to remain in his current role, thus controlling uprooting and disrupting players in their current roles. Last year in his rookie season Jackson only tallied 50 carries for a total of 206 yards with 2 touchdowns averaging 4.1 yards a carry. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield. He ended last year with 15 catches and 135 yards. So far in the pre-season Jackson seems to have improved over the offseason and that includes his receiving skills. None the less Charger fans have yet to see the best of Jackson.
With all the young potential breakout candidate’s along with all players returning from injury the sky is the limit for this team. There are a few other potential candidate’s and that only points to how well rounded this roster truly is. It’s time to change the culture of this team and the window of opportunity will last as long as this roster is young and healthy.