Chargers player No. 4: Hunter Henry, TE
Recent injury: ACL
Without the addition of a starting tackle via the draft or free agency, the Chargers need Hunter Henry be an extension of their offensive line in 2019 in order to succeed. Sam Tevi will need more than just preseason snaps as a starter to develop, and Henry’s presence next to him could help his growth at a comfortable but steady rate as the season progresses.
When targeting Henry, Philip Rivers has a completion percentage of 75 percent, generating the highest quarterback-to-receiver passer rating in the NFL since 2006, per Pro Football Focus. At a grade of 143.7, that connection ranks higher than that of duos like Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson and Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski.
Philip Rivers goes DEEP…
— NFL (@NFL) October 8, 2017
The team needs a dominant third receiving option after Keenan Allen and Mike Williams following the departure of Tyrell Williams, and Henry, in addition to being an extra offensive lineman, can be just that.
Chargers player No. 3: Melvin Gordon, RB
Recent injury: Knee
Melvin Gordon is not higher on this list because he has shown to be replaceable at times; against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, Chargers reserve backs were able to carry the team to victory. However, Gordon is undoubtedly the focal point of the offense, and operating without him leaves Rivers susceptible to a relentless pass rush.
Gordon was only able to muster 15 rushing yards on nine carries in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season, which can be attributed to his health as well as game flow. Even with the Chargers down multiple scores, Gordon only caught one ball, a severe limitation to a back who is equally threatening as a receiver as he is a rusher. From injuries sustained weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals to one just the game before, Gordon was a shell of himself in the team’s most important game. Unable to control the ball on offense, Rivers was pressured on over 70 percent of his first-half snaps. If the Chargers are unable use their franchise back to limit the pass rush, they won’t have a chance in the postseason against the best teams in football.