Los Angeles Chargers: These 4 Rookies Can Steal A Starting Role At Training Camp

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The churn at the top of the Los Angeles Chargers organization over the last few years has created a team with opportunities at many starting roles across the team’s depth chart. Each season a fresh crop of draftees attempt to make their mark on their new team. For the Chargers, they must turn several of these players into starting-caliber talent. The Chargers already have two rookies who are shoe-ins as starters, Joe Alt, tackle, and Ladd McConkey, wide receiver.

Let’s take a look at the rookies who can seal their role before the season even starts at Chargers training camp.

Los Angeles Chargers Rookie’s on the Rise

Kimani Vidal, RB

The Chargers brought in Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins in free agency to build out a barren running back room. They were originally Ravens teammates, put together to create a ‘thunder’ and ‘lightning’ ground threat. That never came to full realization as Dobbins struggled to stay healthy.

Between Dobbin’s availability questions and Edward’s limitations, there is room in the Chargers’ backfield for another player to get on the field. Vidal is a running back in the mold of other Harbaugh running backs, particularly Frank Gore and Blake Corum. Vidal is a sawed-off back with a muscular frame and a total workhorse. He has combined for over 500 carries and nearly 2800 yards in 28 games over the last two seasons.

At Chargers training camp, he’ll need to prove himself as a plus blocker, but he will also need to prove he has more elusiveness and burst than Edwards to get to the top of the depth chart.

Junior Colson, LB

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp
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Some already have Colson penciled in as a starter because of his favored nation’s status as a former Wolverine. But he has plenty of competition to deal with.

Daiyan Henley didn’t see much playing time as a rookie last season. But when he did, he acquitted himself nicely. In just 53 snaps played he racked up 16 tackles including four STOPs. He allowed just 20 yards on seven targets while in coverage.

The Los Angeles Chargers also brought in veteran linebacker Troy Dye. He has never earned a starting role since being drafted in 2020, but in-game experience is gold in this league. Compared to Colson he’s Midas.

Both players are more experienced in the NFL, but Colson has already run the defense, and reports out of spring camps said he was helping more veteran players understand and adapt to the Jesse Minter defense. Colson missed time due to a foot injury early in OTAs.

Justin Eboigbe, DT

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The interior of the Chargers defensive line is a patchwork of veteran cast-offs and young hopefuls. Poona Ford and Morgan Fox will take the lion’s share of snaps. Third-year Otito Ogbonnia and second-year, Scott Matlock is the next most experienced defensive lineman. They played in almost 20 percent of snaps last year.

This means there is plenty of opportunity for Justin Eboigbe to work his way into a starting role. Eboigbe got the best possible preparation for the NFL as a starting defensive tackle for Alabama, but he will still need to impress at Chargers training camp. He doesn’t need to set the world on fire as a pass rusher at Chargers training camp but will need to show he can be aggressive in the run game and a consistent people mover.

Although, Eboigbe did show off his pass-rushing chops last season, racking up seven sacks. Harbaugh got an up-close look at the 6-5 292-pounder in the 2023 Rose Bowl. If he can emerge as a complementary pass rusher to the Chargers’ devastating edge pass rush, he will be invaluable to the team.

Tarheeb Still, CB

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The Los Angeles Chargers starting three cornerbacks look pretty set in stone, but Tarheeb Still has already been making waves in spring camp.

“Tarheeb has, probably in the last three or four practices, made a really, really good jump that you sort of expect a guy to make after being able to digest five or six practices,” defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said. “Really happy with the jump he’s made.

“He made a bunch of really nice plays out there the last couple days,” Minter added.

Chargers veteran Derwin James is also taking note of Still’s ability on defense. 

“Tarheeb been making a lot of plays in the slot,” James said.

Although coaches are reticent to criticize players in the offseason, they are also under no pressure to give undue praise. Always take note when more than one coach or player singles a guy out. If Still has a good Chargers training camp, he will unseat Ja’Sir Taylor in the slot or Kristian Fulton on the outside.