Who is the Los Angeles Chargers’ best-kept secret? Bleacher Report gives us their answer, and I make my own case for two different players.
From well-known studs like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates to a superstar in the making in Joey Bosa, the Chargers are oozing with talent.
But who’s a talented player that isn’t really on anyone’s radar?
Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport created a slideshow of the best-kept secret on every NFL roster. He chose cornerback Casey Hayward for the Chargers. Here’s what Davenport had to say:
“Hayward was the free-agent steal of 2016 for the Bolts. After signing a relatively modest deal with the Chargers, Hayward proceeded to lead the NFL in interceptions (seven) while finishing the year among the top 10 at his position per Pro Football Focus. Hayward’s performance in 2017 netted the 27-year-old a spot at No. 64 on the “NFL Top 100” this year, which can only serve to increase his profile with fans around the country.”
Davenport says that Hayward’s days as the team’s best-kept secret is coming to an end, but I believe they already did–and that’s why I disagree with Hayward being listed. He ascended into the No. 1 corner role when Jason Verrett went down with injury, and to say he flourished would be an understatement.
Four of the 10 highest-graded CBs played in the AFC West in 2016Chris Harris Jr (#1)Aqib Talib (#2)Casey Hayward (#6)Marcus Peters (#10)
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 7, 2017
I like the idea, especially since it was Hayward’s first year as a Charger, but how can a player who finished the season with the most interceptions be the best-kept secret?
If I were to pick one player on offense and one player on defense it’d be wide receiver Tyrell Williams and linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Williams did finish the year with 1,000-plus receiving yards (1,059 to be exact), which was the first time since 2013 that a Chargers player had over 1,000 receiving yards, but the Chargers have such a deep wide receiver corps that Williams has sort of become an afterthought (especially to outsiders).
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) dives for a ball out of his reach during the second quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
With Keenan Allen returning from injury, along with Mike Williams, the Chargers’ 2017 first-round pick, Travis Benjamin, the team’s big 2016 free-agent acquisition, and Dontrelle Inman, a more reliable receiver who set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns last year, T. Williams isn’t a player who’s going to be gameplanned for. But that doesn’t mean the former undrafted free agent won’t be a dangerous threat going forward.
As for Perryman, he’s a hard-hitting thumper who doesn’t get much recognition because of his supporting cast on defense. The former second-round pick took over for Manti Te’o his rookie year (2015) and wound up with the highest run-stop percentage (18.3 percent) among all inside linebackers that year, as noted by Pro Football Focus.
Last year, Perryman finished with the third-most combined tackles (72) on the team, along with two sacks and a clutch interception against Matt Ryan and the Falcons that kept the Chargers alive in a game they’d ultimately win in overtime. While he’s a tone-setter, Perryman did miss four games due to injury.
2016 fifth-rounder Jatavis Brown, a versatile playmaker who finished first on the team in total tackles, third in pass deflections (six), third in sacks (3.5) and third in forced fumbles (two), was my second choice behind Perryman. Brown’s ability to find the football is incredibly impressive.
If it were up to you, who would be your choices?