As we inch closer and closer to the beginning of training camp, we continue our series looking at each positional unit of the San Diego Chargers, dissecting how things will look heading into camp. Of course, camp is there for players to move up the depth chart, so this may not be how things turn out.
Operating in a 3-4 defensive scheme, it is imperative that the outside linebackers of the Chargers get frequent pressure on the quarterback. Though Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu are quite capable of doing just that, the team would like to see them both get to the opposing passer with higher regularity this year. The signing of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who should be able to eat up double teams and the drafting of pass-rush specialist Joey Bosa should help the defense get much more pressure in 2016.
Let’s take a look at how things shake out among the Chargers outside linebackers heading into camp.
Oct 4, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (54) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) during the first half at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Locks to Make Final Roster
Melvin Ingram: Can Melvin Ingram be mentioned in the same breath as some of the top pass-rushers in the NFL? He certainly has the physical tools to do so, but 2015 was the first of his four professional seasons in which he reached double figures in sacks.
Now, the goal will be for him to hit that number again. There should be plenty of motivation on his end, as this is a “contract year” for him and he’s set to become a free agent following the season.
With players like Bosa and Mebane on the same defensive unit, I would expect Ingram to have a massive season.
Jeremiah Attaochu: After netting just two sacks as a rookie, Attaochu registered six sacks last season. The hope now is that he’ll hit double-digit category this year. Another exciting linebacker off the edge, Attaochu had 55 tackles and two forced fumbles last year.
He’s slowly becoming that disruptive force off the edge, but the Chargers are going to expect him to really ramp it up in 2016.
Oct 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Tourek Williams (58) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Tourek Williams: Entering his fourth season after being a fourth-round draft pick out of Florida International, Tourek Williams has had a quiet three years in the league. He needs to make some noise in camp and preseason games this year if he wants to hang around.
Williams has 31 tackles and one sack in his career, while seeing limited snaps on defense. The team may still see him as a suitable replacement for Ingram or Attaochu should one of them miss time. He has experience in the system, and that, more than anything else, will likely keep him around.
Kyle Emanuel: A rookie last year after being drafted in the fifth round out of North Dakota State, Kyle Emanuel flashed some greatness in limited action. That included a sack and an interception to go along with his 25 tackles. Both of those big plays came in the season opener against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.
Emanuel has a future with this team, and will almost certainly be part of the final 53.
Oct 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Manasseh Garner (82) runs after a pass reception against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Tyler Marcordes (35) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Georgia Tech won 56-28. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Won’t Make Final Roster
Shaq Petteway: Shaq Petteway is an interesting player that could line up at other positions. In fact, the Philadelphia Eagles worked him out as a fullback during the pre-draft process. Petteway’s success or failure this summer will likely rely on how well he plays special teams, but either way, he’s probably best suited to start his career on the practice squad.
Tyler Marcordes: Tyler Marcordes is four inches taller and a bit heavier than Petteway, and he’s just a rough, hard-nosed player. He played in just 32 games in college at Georgia Tech, totaling 67 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
After going undrafted, he was brought in by the Chargers, but faces long odds in making the roster.
Chris Landrum: Another undrafted rookie who will likely come with less fanfare than just about anyone on the team, Chris Landrum actually played defensive end for Jacksonville State over the course of the last three seasons following a transfer from Auburn.
Despite playing at the smaller school, Landrum always kept his focus and leaves as the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 16 and tackles for loss with 39.5. He’ll be considered a heavy underdog to make the team in San Diego, but don’t be surprised if he makes some big plays this summer and lands a spot on the practice squad.
FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER PREDICTIONS
With everything we’ve discussed here, I see the Chargers keeping just four (and maybe only three) outside linebackers on the active roster. Of course, a player could step up in camp to change all of that, but as things stand right now, that’s how I see it. So, which players will make the final team?