Final Chargers 53-Man Roster Prediction
The time has finally come. The Chargers have wrapped up training camp, as well as their three preseason games. Now, their attention will be on finishing the final touches on the depth charts as they prepare for week one. As such, this will be the time when I give my final Chargers 53-man roster prediction. I was 50/53 last year, with my key misses being Tyron Johnson and Joshua Kelley. (I thought they would keep Johnson and cut Kelley.) That being said, let’s dive into the 2022 edition.
I was really hoping the Chargers would free up a roster spot for a more valuable asset by only carrying two quarterbacks this year, and then Tom Telesco went into the booth during the Chargers’ second preseason game and took a sledgehammer to that dream. They’re going to keep three on the active roster again, which I think is a mistake. Daniel will be the primary backup again after outperforming Stick in the preseason.
Running Back (4)
The Chargers kept four running backs last year, and I don’t think they have a choice to do otherwise again this year due to Spiller’s recent ankle injury that has his early season status in doubt. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do end up cutting Rountree in search of a different option from the waiver wire but regardless of the player, they’ll head into the season with four on the roster until Spiller gets healthy.
It’s not often that a team ends up drafting a fullback in today’s NFL but that’s what the Chargers did back in April. The second that happened, it basically meant that Gabe Nabers was on the chopping block. Horvath obviously wasn’t going to be handed the position, but it’s been clear for a few weeks that he has won the battle. Nabers has basically been working with the tight ends for the last few weeks.
Tight End (3)
The roots of the Sean Payton offense that the Chargers employ under Joe Lombardi love tight ends so I wouldn’t be all that surprised if they kept a fourth on the roster just like last year – Sage Surratt has flashed some fun potential as a receiver. However, Everett is a significantly better blocker than Jared Cook and McKitty is further along in his development and health than he was at this time last year, so there’s really no need to keep a fourth.
Wide Receiver (5)
I really wish the Chargers would be able to find a way to keep Michael Bandy on this roster. He’s been a total rock for both backup quarterbacks from day one and has the production that should have earned him a spot on the team. Unfortunately, this is the sacrifice you make when you keep three quarterbacks and four running backs. The Chargers will get more out of Carter on offense than they did with K.J. Hill or Andre Roberts last year as the fifth option, which unfortunately only further hurts Bandy’s case.
Offensive Tackle (3)
We knew heading into training camp which three tackles would make the roster, it was just a matter of who would start opposite of Slater. Earlier this week, Pipkins was essentially announced as the winner of the right tackle battle when he was taking all the first-team reps in practices, and Norton was seen taking the reps as the second-team left tackle (this carried over into the Saints game as well). Up until that point, the two had been splitting the snaps at right tackle 50-50. Now that Norton is getting some work in at left tackle, it’s clear they are preparing him for the swing tackle role.
Offensive Guard (4)
No surprises here in terms of the players that will make the roster. The only real unknown was whether Salyer or Jaimes would ultimately win the swing guard battle, and it was clear almost from the jump it was going to be Salyer. The former Georgia Bulldog was one of my favorite guard prospects in the 2022 draft and he’s been everything I could have hoped for and then some so far. Chargers fans should be very comfortable with him in this role.
There was a mildly interesting late push by Ryan Hunter for the backup center spot but Clapp has been steady all throughout training camp and reportedly had some great practices against the Cowboys to seal the deal for that battle. I’m not super confident that Clapp will prove to be an upgrade over Scott Quessenberry overall but it’s clear they wanted a bigger and stronger body behind Linsley and Clapp certainly fits that bill.
Interior Defensive Line (6)
The Chargers only kept five on the initial 53-man roster last year but I think they will rectify that mistake and keep six this year, in part because Ogbonnia is probably not ready to play meaningful snaps right away. They will need Fehoko and his run defense to fill in the gaps. Of any interior defensive lineman with at least 50 run defense snaps last season, Fehoko finished FIRST in the league in run stop percentage at 16.1%. Fehoko nearly matched Christian Covington from a total run stop standpoint in TWO HUNDRED fewer snaps. Keeping Covington over Fehoko would be a MASSIVE mistake and I am hopeful that the Chargers staff is smart enough to realize that.
Edge Defender (3)
Davis has shown some real power at the point of attack, particularly as a run defender and I think that floor holds some when considering final roster spots. He’s not the most refined pass rusher though and I think that hurts his chances of making the final roster. So does Van Noy’s flexibility. I would not rule out them adding another edge rusher from the waiver wire after the first round of cuts happens around the league on Tuesday.
Van Noy’s versatility is the biggest remaining wildcard when it comes to predicting the final roster construction. He could play enough on the edge where he changes the calculus for this linebacker group. It sounds like their plan for him changed throughout training camp though and now they want him serving as their MIKE linebacker and leader in that room first, and rush the passer second. I think we could see them keep Amen Ogbongbemiga over Niemann, but the latter was their best special teams player last season and the team did invest a draft pick in him.
This group has arguably had the most productive camp of any of the groups on the roster. Each player seems to have had some shining moments throughout the summer. Taylor has really come on strong over the last few weeks and has been able to keep Kemon Hall at bay with ease. Chargers fans should be excited about him. Leonard vs Tevaughn Campbell was the other interesting battle heading into camp, but Campbell got hurt early on in the summer which ultimately led to him getting cut a few weeks ago. With Jackson’s early season status up in the air, they don’t really have a choice but to keep Leonard.
After drafting Woods and Webb in back-to-back years, I figured that Gilman would end up on the chopping block but Woods has really struggled with some inconsistent tackling and Webb has not managed to be healthy for more than a week this summer. They’ll need Gilman to stabilize the depth behind James and Adderley. The coaching staff remains very high on Webb’s potential so I believe they will talk themselves into keeping him, and then potentially put him on the PUP/IR list and let him get healthy for a few weeks.
The Chargers will have a lot of veteran specialists this year that have been there and done that. I know that it hasn’t been very pretty in the preseason games, but I am actually excited about the Chargers’ special teams’ operation once they get the actual core players settled.
And that’s officially a wrap on the offseason and preseason! We are officially on Raiders countdown! Let me know what picks on here you would change in the comments or on social media!
Final Chargers 53-Man Roster Prediction. Top Shots: Bolts Closeout Preseason in New Orleans – Ty Nowell