The Chargers have developed a number of young players, and some of them will be with the team for the long-term future.
The Los Angeles Chargers have generally been pretty good, recently, when it comes to finding talent in the NFL Draft and even afterward with undrafted free agents.
In the last few years, the team has gone through some huge changes to continue this new youth movement. In 2012, the Chargers’ average age was about 28.8 years old. In 2019, that was down to 25.7 years old. With the departure of some veterans like quarterback Philip Rivers, running back Melvin Gordon, and defensive back Adrian Phillips, the average age may even go down further.
So, what about those young players? If one were to rank out Los Angeles’ youth movement, who would the top players 25 years old and under be?
Before getting to those top five, let’s start with the honorable mentions.
Chargers defensive back Desmond King
Despite a down year in 2019, Desmond King is one of the better young corners in the league. 2020 will be about finding a new role for King to play, as the recently acquired veteran corner, Chris Harris, will man the slot. Most likely, King will shift to a dime-backer role and be used as a more Swiss Army knife-version of Phillips.
Some could coin King to be the defense’s wild card.
If he can get back to his 2018 form, the secondary will be in great shape. King also has a pretty good reason to want to do that, considering 2020 is his contract year. The secondary also has to stay healthy. Losing Phillips and safety Derwin James for most of 2019 hurt the rest of the defense pretty badly.
King still has tons of talent and potential if used in the right role. Let him play everywhere on the field on defense and see where he fits best. He’s clearly one of the best under-25 Chargers on defense with his versatility. Whether he’s with the Chargers beyond this season is still to be determined, but King has proven himself before and can do it again.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams
There were plenty of reasonable questions about just how good wide receiver Mike Williams was going into last season. Could he start a full season and put up quality production at the same time?
Apart from missing just one game due to injury, the answer to both questions was yes.
Williams established himself, far and away, as the second-best receiver on the team. 2019 was his first 1,000-yard season and he averaged 20.4 yards per reception.
That was the highest yards per reception mark in the NFL in the last six seasons.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Williams vault up to being one of the best Chargers in a few years. Rivers was in a declined state last year and Williams still made the most of it. Should he develop more short routes and more route-running prowess in general, he could be an absolute monster. People forget what now-Kansas City Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins did in Buffalo with the Bills with quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He’s an interesting comp for Williams’ situation this year.
The other reason I’d like to see Williams develop more of an underneath game is to decrease injury risk. He’s been banged up in his first few NFL seasons and took some shots last year after receptions or while going for the catch. It doesn’t have to be a 20-yard gain every time. Throw him some dinks and dunks.