2. Defensive end Chris McCain
Everyone was waiting for 2014 second-round pick Jeremiah Attaochu to have his breakout year. Instead, someone else took Attaochu’s place.
The emergence of Chris McCain, a 2014 undrafted free agent who bounced from team to team before finding a home in Los Angeles, pushed Attaochu to the bench. After standing out in the preseason, McCain went on to play in a career-high 15 games and finished with 20 combined tackles and five sacks, third-most on the team. He also forced one fumble. McCain put up those numbers playing the fewest amount of defensive snaps among the team’s defensive linemen (minimum five games played), too. He did, however, slow down after a hot start, as he failed to record a sack in the final eight games of the season.
McCain is only 26 years old. He’s strictly a situational pass rusher, but he’s good at what he does and provides valuable depth at the LEO position. If Attaochu, who is an unrestricted free agent, isn’t brought back, then retaining McCain is a must, especially since former undrafted free agents Chris Landrum and Whitney Richardson are the only players on the current roster fit to play that position.
Since McCain entered the league as an UDFA, the Chargers will receive no compensation unless they place a first- or second-round tender on him. The Chargers should place a second-round tender on him, which will cost them around $3 million in cap space. That figure may seem a bit rich for a player who rarely saw the field in 2017, but McCain is young and has a ton of upside. Expect a big jump in playing time in 2018.