Los Angeles Chargers Poised for Breakout? 2 Players Atop Analytics Firm’s Watchlist

Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson and Trevor Sikkema discussed their top breakout candidates on Thursday’s episode of the PFF NFL Show. The Los Angeles Chargers had two players on Sikkema’s list of five players; Quentin Johnston and Daiyan Henley. Let’s take a look at his reasoning for why those players will take a step forward for the Chargers in 2024.

Los Angeles Chargers Breakout Candidates:

Daiyan Henley

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers
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“I have Daiyan Henley, who I think he going to have a chance to start at one of the linebacker spots for the Los Angeles Chargers. I like it specifically because Jim Harbaugh while he was at Michigan he had Junior Colson as the traditional middle linebacker. [A] bigger guy who could fit the run. But then whether it was Michael Bennett or a couple of other players who have played that linebacker spot next to Junior Colson, they were always lighter faster players like they were sometimes these like safety linebacker hybrids.”

“That’s what Henley feels like. He is that faster more athletic linebacker. You saw him be able to do that at Washington State and I think that if anybody has a really good plan for how to use an undersized more speed-oriented linebacker it’s Harbaugh because he had an exact position for that on the Michigan Wolverines defense. I think that Henley is in for a breakout year this year as a starting linebacker for them.”

Quentin Johnston

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers
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“I think that he is a talented player. Even when you watched him at TCU, it felt like his game was incomplete. It felt like it was all flashes and there was not enough consistency. There was not enough dominance in one area to really hang your hat on.”

“Maybe that ultimately becomes the story of why he might not work at the NFL level. He was sort of just this guy who could do a lot of different things for you, he had unique athletic ability for being taller. But he didn’t really dominate the way he needed to [as a] tall receiver. He wasn’t quite as fast as you needed him to be. He wasn’t as strong as he needed to be at the catch point..”

“..all of those things have showed up at one point especially in his TCU tape. Can we put that all together? Can he surprise everybody at this point and have a massive breakout season this year?”

Important Positions for the 2024 Chargers

Both linebacker and wide receiver are key positions the Chargers need to find long-term answers at. They have invested in both heavily in the new Harbaugh regime.

At linebacker, they brought in bandaid free agents, Denzel Perryman and Troy Dye, as well as drafting the aforementioned, Junior Colson from Michigan.

The wide receiver situation is a bit more desperate after parting ways with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Sikkema’s assessment of Johnston is apt, but it is also true for all the Chargers wide receivers. Not one of the lot is the complete package #1 pass catcher. Johnston’s development should be a focus in the run-up to 2024’s season. The Chargers have brought in three WRs via the draft and three more undrafted free agents, signed DJ Chark, to add to second-year players Johnston and Derius Davis and vet Josh Palmer and Simi Fehoko

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers-OTA
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