July is here and soon enough, training camp will open. The Los Angeles Chargers will have several key roster decisions to make as the team looks for depth to pad a loaded team. Fullback Derek Watt could easily be on the proverbial roster bubble.
Part of the famous Watt family, Derek is entering year three with the Chargers. He is far less famous than brothers J.J. and T.J., however. That probably has something to do with the fact that he plays fullback.
But it also may have much more to do with the fact that he’s just not as talented as his siblings.
A sixth-round pick in 2016, Watt was chosen largely due to the fact that he was the lead blocker in college for Melvin Gordon, a role he could transition into at the professional level.
After a poor rookie season, Gordon saw his numbers go up big time in 2016 and then again in 2017 in terms of yardage and rushing touchdowns. Watt got some credit for that, but does he really deserve it?
Gordon has yet to average over four yards per carry in each of his first three seasons in the league, so perhaps using Watt as a lead blocker isn’t that important.
The Chargers went out and signed Virgil Green through free agency. Green is among the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, showing the Chargers are going to be committed to the run. However, it’s possible the team may have a different way of going about it.
Will a fullback even be on the roster? That’s a legitimate question.
Few teams in the league carry a fullback anymore. It’s a position that has become obsolete. If a team does carry a fullback, that team uses that player in the passing game. Watt has just six career catches.
He does know how to create yardage once he makes the catch, though. He has averaged nearly 20 yards per reception on those six grabs.
But even if the Chargers do keep a fullback, Watt will have competition. Undrafted rookie Anthony Manzo-Lewis is one of the team’s best sleeper players heading into camp.
Either way, there’s no doubt that Watt is on the roster bubble and is in no way guaranteed a spot on the final 53-man roster this summer.
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Watt is going to get all he wants from Manzo-Lewis, a player the Chargers could opt to keep on the practice squad as a future replacement for Watt even if the veteran wins the job in camp.
The Chargers will look at the option of not keeping a fullback at all, particularly because they’ll want to have as many options at tight ends in the passing game due to the loss of Hunter Henry.
Once all is said and done, the Chargers will keep a fullback and that player will be Watt, but don’t put that in stone, because it’s far from a lock.