Though we are still a couple months away from training camp, where the real position battles will begin, I have started a new weekly series looking into each positional unit for the San Diego Chargers.
Rosters around the league are sitting right around 90 players right now and by the time the season starts, nearly half of those 90 will be looking for jobs elsewhere.
Here, we will delve into the San Diego Chargers roster position-by-position, laying the groundwork for what’s to come later this summer. We will talk about the players at each position and determine which ones will make the final 53-man roster. Once training camp starts, it may be necessary to revisit some of the positions and look back at the original predictions.
We started the series by looking at the running back position. In case you missed it, you can access it here. This time, we’ll jump to the other side of the ball and look at the safety spot.
After losing long-time defensive captain Eric Weddle to free agency, the safety position has to be one of concern for fans in San Diego, even if the team signed Dwight Lowery this offseason.
The team will need to find a player who can not only help lead the defense from the back end, but also be a ballhawk the way that Weddle was. For these reasons, this will be an important position to closely evaluate as we get closer to the season.
It also figures to be a competitive positional battle once training camp opens, as there isn’t much that’s guaranteed.
Nov 22, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive back Dwight Lowery (33) dives to intercept a pass in the end zone against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Locks to Make Final Roster
Jahleel Addae: Jahleel Addae will be entering his fourth season with the team and he will need to be one of the key members of this defense starting this season. Without Weddle to support him, expectations will be higher.
Addae has increased his number in tackles in each of his first three seasons and he is good at playing up to add run support. He is still looking for his first career interception and will need to start making more plays in the passing game.
Dwight Lowery: The Chargers will be the fifth team that Dwight Lowery has played for in what will be his ninth season in the league. With 100 career games played under his belt, he will be one of the veterans of this defensive unit.
Lowery is the guy who has been tabbed to replace Weddle, at least for now. Lowery has 16 career interceptions, including a career-high four with the Indianapolis Colts last season. Is that a sign that he is getting better with age and experience? The Chargers sure hope so.
However, expect the leash on Lowery to be short. The team has some young options capable of cracking the starting lineup and taking his job.
Dec 5, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Cougars safety Adrian McDonald (16) reacts after a play during the first half against the Temple Owls in the Mid-American Conference football championship game at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Adrian McDonald: Though Adrian McDonald went undrafted, he registered 17 interceptions and seven sacks during his time with the University of Houston. His six interceptions in 2013 ranked third in the nation.
McDonald will need to show he can make accurate, timely tackles from his position, particularly in the middle of the field. However, his exceptional ball skills give him a solid chance of making the final roster.
Darrell Stuckey: Darrell Stuckey will be entering his seventh season in the league, all with the Chargers. Even with Weddle out of the picture, he doesn’t figure to be anything more than extra depth on the roster and a member of the special teams unit.
The Chargers will likely keep at least four safeties, but Stuckey is no lock to be one of them.
Nov 29, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Edmonton Eskimos linebacker Dexter McCoil (45) tackles Ottawa Redblacks running back William Powell (29) during the second quarter of the Grey Cup at Investors Group Field. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Dexter McCoil: Dexter McCoil had a solid college career at the University of Tulsa, but after going undrafted, his NFL career didn’t last long.
The Oakland Raiders brought him in, but gave up on him quickly. He then went to the Arena League, where he played briefly for the LA Kiss.
Most recently, he played in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos, and that is where McCoil finally flashed what he can do on the field. In two years in Canada, McCoil was named the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2014 before helping the Eskimos capture the Grey Cup last season.
This convinced general manager that McCoil deserves another shot in the NFL. He had 18 interceptions during his college career and nine picks in two seasons in the CFL. He is also a tough tackler and could become that thumper the team needs in the secondary, particularly because he also played linebacker in Canada.
Former CFLer Dexter McCoil worked at safety today. Can play linebacker. Mike McCoy: "We'll move him around, but he's been impressive."
— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) May 13, 2016
Do not be surprised to see McCoil make the squad over a guy like Stuckey.
Won’t Make Final Roster
Dec 24, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) carries the ball against San Diego Chargers cornerback Adrian Phillips (31) during the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Diego Chargers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Adrian Phillips: Adrian Phillips has played in parts of 12 games during the first two years of his NFL career, totaling 20 tackles. He also had his first career interception in the season finale last year against the Denver Broncos, picking off a pass thrown by Brock Osweiler and returning it 39 yards.
However, there has to be an odd man out in this group. Though Phillips appears to be a player with plenty of room to develop, the additions of McDonald and McCoil may be enough to push him out.