“The best 53 players” has been the goal for Mike McCoy and company since the start of training camp. There are a handful camp battles and returning starters, then there are the obvious guys who will make the team despite not being a starter for specific needs, guys such as John Phllips, Clipboard Charlie and Jairus Wynn. What about those names that not many people have heard? There could be a couple of not so household names that can contribute in big ways if given the opportunity. Let’s take a look at a few intriguing prospects that could show flashes of potential and barely make the cut.
Bront Bird – This time last year, Bird had a strong pre-season and did some athletic things for us, ranked as one of the best (7th) inside linebackers in coverage. Does anyone else remember that sweet pick he made off Ben Roethlisberger on the December 9th game? When he isn’t playing football, which he wasn’t for a majority of 2012, he was busy working at the company he’s started building wastewater treatment plants. An opportunity presented itself when Jonas Mouton sustained an ACL tear, opening up the door, not that Mouton was contributing to the team much more than Bront was.
Jahleel Addae – There is already fierce competition for the strong safety position opposite of Eric Weddle. Marcus Gilchrist, Brandon Taylor and Darrell Stuckey are all trying to prove themselves to be the starter. Least we forget Addae who could possibly make the roster as a reserve or a special teams player. There’s plenty of potential in this kids tank, he was a two-time Central Michigan defensive player of the year. Addae had an excellent spring, but has yet to make headlines during training camp. We’ll see what he can potentially do come Thursday in the pre-season opener.
Dan DePalma – There’s no doubt the Chargers have a very deep group of wide receivers, but one more couldn’t hurt. During spring OTAs, DePalma was catching everything thrown his way, in route catching the attention of the coaching staff. Unfortunately for DePalma, Eddie Royal has been making the most of his opportunity during training camp as well. Essentially, four spots are taken with you should know by now, the fifth to Robert Meachem since it would be foolish to cut him when guaranteed money is involved. Only a very, very strong pre-season and beating out Royal and Richard Goodman will secure DePalma a spot by opening day.
Stephen Schilling – Not much is known about Schilling aside from being drafted in the 6th round in 2011. Schilling has never made it through final cuts, but many experts are projecting him to finally make the team upon opening day. Just like most other players, perhaps he finally caught the inspiration bug. In recent times Schilling has tried out from tackle to guard and for the first time in his life, center. Versatility is a huge plus and can go a long way to making the team. Schilling is doing the right thing by grasping every opportunity he gets thrown in his direction.
Michael Hill – Still not a lot of buzz during camp about Hill, but pre-season should give up a decent indication of what Hill is capable of. Hill will essentially be targeting Ronnie Brown’s job, so Hill will have to prove he can catch out of the backfield as well as rush. If Hill can do all the things that Brown can do, it could free up some cap space as well as have a youthful, reliable third option when if Ryan Matthews goes down. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post Hill averaged 7.0 yards per carry in addition to 16 touchdowns during his final year at Missouri Western. Impressive numbers, but these stats don’t mean anything unless it can translate at the next level.
Does anyone of these guys sound like a bona fide back-up or the next undrafted starter (aside from Schilling)? It’s not just the first 22 to make the team, we need everyone that makes the final cut to contribute right away.