Chargers 2019 Offseason Priority No. 2: Linebacker Depth
2019 Offseason solution: Re-sign Denzel Perryman, Signed Thomas Davis Sr., Drafted Drue Tranquill, Drafted Emeke Egbule
2020 Offseason Priority Ranking: Not a top-five need
The need at linebacker became severe in the 2018-2019 playoffs when the Chargers were essentially forced to use seven defensive backs against the Patriots despite being shredded by the Patriots’ running game.
While no top-level players were added to the position in the 2019 offseason, Telesco clearly fortified the depth chart at linebacker. Telesco added Thomas Davis in free agency as well as Drue Tranquill and Emeke Egbule in the draft.
In fact, two of those additions, Davis and Tranquill, ended up as the Chargers linebackers with the highest snap count. While depth was clearly improved at the position, the top-end talent at the position still needs improvement.
The best two Chargers interior linebackers this season both were just below starter-level in performance, according to Pro Football Focus. Kyzir White was rated highest at 67.9, followed by Drue Tranquill at 66.6 and Thomas Davis at 61.7.
At this position, Telesco certainly improved the depth, but he still needs to search for a higher-level starter at the position (or hope on improvement from promising young players Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White).
Chargers 2019 Offseason Priority No. 3: Corner
2019 Offseason solution: Re-signed Trevor Williams
During the 2018-2019 season, the Chargers were forced to place Trevor Williams on injured reserve with a nagging knee injury and turned to Michael Davis as the number two corner. While Davis performed decently, it was clear that the team needed improvement from him or a better corner opposite Casey Hayward.
To solve the situation at the second corner position, Tom Telesco simply re-signed the previously injured Williams. The result in 2019 was nearly the same as 2018, with Williams going on injured reserve and Davis being pushed into the number two corner role.
In that role, Davis did not show much improvement. Davis was generally good at covering short routes, but he was frequently burned deep while attempting to jump short passes.
Furthermore, Davis missed several games with injuries and a two-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In his absence, Brandon Facyson showed improvement (and very sound tackling for a corner), but he also showed that he should not be relied upon as a starting corner at this point in his career.
Thus, Telesco completely failed to address the need at this position in the offseason. As a result, the Chargers struggled against opponents’ number two receivers, especially teams with two solid receivers, such as the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings.