Chargers candidate No. 2: Adrian Phillips
File Adrian Phillips away as a player who is able to do way more with what they have than nearly any other player.
Phillips had a career year last year with 94 tackles to go along with 2 take-aways. Gus Bradley has his own explanation as to why he is such a special player:
First of all, he’s extremely intelligent. He can play strong safety, free safety, dime [linebacker], and nickel [linebacker] for us, and we’d feel extremely comfortable if he was in any of those positions…he’s just one of the most elite guys in that area that I’ve ever been around.
Phillips has made a great career out of what appeared to be little at the outset of his career; he was released four separate times during his first year in the league.
However, Phillips never gave up. His unique skill-set (a blend of intelligence and perseverance) enabled him to become a Pro-Bowl player on an elite team.
Chargers candidate No. 1: Austin Ekeler
Listed at 5’9″ and 195 pounds as a rookie, Ekeler seemed small even for the standards of pass-catching specialist backs. However, Ekeler has turned into so much more; in fact, his first NFL touchdown was a run right up the middle.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 1, 2017
Perhaps he was always more than that, and it just took a chance from an NFL team for us to see it. At Ekeler’s pro day, he demonstrated excellent speed and athleticism with a 4.43 40-yard dash and 40.5″ vertical jump.
It makes no sense how such a small player can pack such a large punch, but he has validated those who said he is the strongest pound-for-pound player on the team. While some were believers in his unique talent before his rookie year, fans are all believers now.
Most unique winner: Adrian Phillips
With such great candidates, this comes down to preference. Unique players are a combination of both a successful underdog and an intelligent player, and Phillips demonstrates each of those traits.
One can’t go wrong with picking Rivers’ unorthodox motion, Ekeler’s amazing strength, or Phillips’ IQ, though. Each are tremendously talented in their own unique ways.