Bolt Beat Monday Mailbag: Should Chargers sign Derrick Johnson?

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 20: Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 20: Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson /

Whether you’re here for the first time or have been here from the start, welcome to the weekly Bolt Beat Monday Mailbag!

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Looking forward to more of your great questions and topics. Enjoy the mailbag!

Question 1: Watching how Adrian Phillips was able to develop, do you think Rayshawn Jenkins will blossom to become the safety we drafted him to be (Kam Chancellor-style safety) or will he just be a special teams player? -Calvin

In 2017, Rayshawn Jenkins played just 7.25 percent of all defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. Here are Adrian Phillips‘ snap counts and statistics over his four year career:

  • 2014: 4.39%, one combined tackle
  • 2015: 20.56%, 19 combined tackles, one pass defended, one interception
  • 2016: 50.75%, 38 combined tackles, three passes defended, one interception
  • 2017: 49.43%, 63 combined tackles, five passes defended, two interceptions

Although slow to see playing time on the field, Jenkins would finish his first season with 13 combined tackles and one pass defended.

There are currently two main obstacles blocking Jenkins from seeing more playing time: Special teams penalties and lack of opportunity due to the current roster. For a guy who rarely saw the field his rookie season, he sure had his name called a lot. Jenkins has five penalties to his name so far, with three of them being absolutely unforgivable errors (two unnecessary roughness penalties and one roughing the kicker penalty).

The other issue is that he has no available spot to fill in front of him on the roster, for now. Jahleel Addae is going to start, along with (I’m projecting for now) Tre Boston, Phillips and Desmond King in various roles. Barring injury, there’s no reason for Jenkins to see a large uptick in playing time.

Unless, of course, he was drafted to take Phillips’ spot. When drafting Jenkins in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Tom Telesco commented that Gus Bradley likes “bigger guys” out of the safety position. Here’s how the two match up, along with the player you mentioned earlier, Kam Chancellor, who also played under Bradley:

  • Adrian Phillips: 5’11”, 210 lbs
  • Rayshawn Jenkins: 6’1″, 220 lbs
  • Kam Chancellor: 6’3″, 225 lbs

Size doesn’t necessarily matter (tell that to the 5’10”, 201-pound Desmond King), but Jenkins is closer to the Chancellor mold than Phillips is. Although likely, it will be interesting to follow whether or not Phillips is re-signed. I expect Jenkins to develop and earn more playing time in Year 2, but to what extent remains to be seen. Ask me again when free agency plays out!

Question 2: Any interest in Derrick Johnson? He could fit in, and his leadership is tops. -Doug

Actually, I’m all in.

According to recent reports, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to not offer their franchise cornerstone of 13 years a contract extension, and the inside linebacker is set to hit free agency.

At 35 years old, Johnson doesn’t have a full career ahead of him, but he can be a valuable role player and, as you alluded to, a leader on defense. Signing a veteran past his prime does have precedent with the Chargers, most recently Jarret Johnson (31 when signed) and Dwight Freeney (33). He’s still got some juice, too:


— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) January 6, 2018

For the season, Johnson had 71 combined tackles, playing 76.75% of defensive snaps and earning a 77.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. That’s better than current Charger linebackers Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, Kyle Emmanuel and Hayes Pullard.

Signing him to a short contract would not eliminate the possibility of drafting a linebacker in the first round, either. In fact, a first-year rookie would benefit greatly learning from an NFL star, with so much wisdom to give. It would give the Chargers an immediate plug in the middle of the defense, while also giving their rookie some time to learn before taking on full starting responsibilities.

Question 3: Who is the strongest Charger? – Malik

Which NFL player has the strongest arm in the league?@JungleBoi_Swagg claims it's @Chargers DE @melviningram who can "throw the ball 100 yards."

— GMFB (@gmfb) January 26, 2018

Unconfirmed by my eyes, but that’s got to count for something!

Here are some of the stronger Chargers’ NFL Combine bench press numbers (lifting 225 lbs):

  • Melvin Ingram: 28 reps
  • Forrest Lamp: 32 reps
  • Russell Okung: 38 reps

No one would ever consider Philip Rivers a physical specimen, but he should get some consideration considering his career. 192 games started and never missing a game due to injury is incredible. He’s either extremely lucky or he’s stronger than most of us realize, both mentally and physically.

That being said, Peryman is easily the most “jacked” Charger on the roster. If he isn’t pound-for-pound the strongest Charger, I’m not sure who is:

In case you haven't seen @Chargers 2nd round pick Denzel Perryman is jacked! #muscles #doyouworkout @D_Perryman52

— Allie Wagner (@alliewagnertv) May 15, 2015

Dark-horse candidate? Mr. Anthony Lynn. I’ll never get over this picture:


— KP (@KP_Show) October 23, 2017

Thanks for reading, and thank you to Calvin, Doug and Malik for your questions. If you’d like to get on the mailbag, just send yours in via Twitter, email or through the comments section (all listed at top of article). Go Bolts!