For the third consecutive offseason, you will be able to learn about the undrafted free agent class of the Los Angeles Chargers right here. This year’s spotlight series kicks off with Duke tight end Daniel Helm.
Helm began his college career at Tennessee before transferring to the school with arguably the best basketball program in the nation. Because of his raw athletic ability, there was an outside chance that he would be drafted.
But will that athletic ability translate to the professional level?
Helm caught 69 passes in his career at Duke, which consisted of 34 games. He found the end zone six times and had a total of 767 yards receiving. If you were to break down his stats by game, he caught two passes for 22.5 yards per game. That’s not very productive.
He does display the ability to block and could get better in that department learning from a guy like Virgil Green. But he’ll have to learn quickly. He will only be guaranteed a few months with the team.
As a receiver, he shows good hands and a solid catch radius, but can he gain separation from NFL defenders? When watching him play, he certainly can be an effective player once in a while, but nothing he does jumps off the screen.
However, he might have landed in the right place for an up-and-coming tight end. Green and Hunter Henry are the only players pretty much guaranteed a spot on the roster. Beyond that, the team has Sean Culkin, Austin Roberts, Vince Mayle and fellow undrafted free agent Matt Sokol.
There’s certainly room for Helm to make an impact.
The team brought in undrafted free agents at the tight end spot last season in Cole Hunt and Ben Johnson. If either of them had made an impact, the Chargers might have waved a final goodbye to Antonio Gates. The team is likely looking for a young player to step up again this year with Gates being the fall-back option.
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Chance to make the team (scale of 1-10): 6
Helm has a solid chance to make the final 53-man roster because of the competition around him. Aside from Henry and Green, it will be a wide-open competition and Helm may be a better pass catcher than all of those guys.
He will get the chance to display that later this year.
Last season, the Chargers brought in multiple undrafted tight ends including Cole Hunt and Ben Johnson, hoping to find a young guy to step up. Had that happened, the team may have waved a final goodbye to Antonio Gates.
There’s a chance that the team is going with that same game plan this year with Gates as a fall-back option.