Bobby Holly, FB & Jessie Lemonier, DE
Naturally, the players with the most to prove are the undrafted free agents that have proven nothing at the NFL level.
For that reason, I am choosing to single out two particular players that have been predicted by many to be on the LA Chargers roster. Despite this, each player seems to be behind the eight ball early and in need of improving their stock through training camp.
Bobby Holly has become an early favorite for Chargers fans, likely due to his resemblance to a former Chargers fan favorite, Lorenzo Neal.
Plays like the one above where Holly absolutely abuses defenders are easy to find. There are also some signs that he could be a decent short-yardage option like Derek Watt was last year.
But there are two major things working against Holly (beyond the lack of preseason games).
First, Holly could be directly competing with Gabe Nabers for a spot, who seems to have already caught the eye of Anthony Lynn based on his physical presence alone (which could be more important without game film).
Secondly, Holly is playing a dying position, and he lacks the versatility that Nabers does to play other roles. Perhaps there is a spot for a bruising fullback in Anthony Lynn’s new offense, but Holly will not just be given the spot for being the only big fullback in camp.
The other undrafted rookie that is likely to be hurt by the lack of preseason games is Jessie Lemonier.
Lemonier plays at a position that is clearly of need. The only clear defensive end on the roster behind Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is Isaac Rochell. While Uchenna Nwosu also takes some snaps at defensive end, he has been rotating in with linebackers as well as being a passing-down specialist.
Given this need, one of the duo of Jessie Lemonier and Joe Gaziano has a good chance to make the roster.
Due to the competition he faced at Liberty University, Lemonier needed the opportunity to face NFL-level competition in the preseason more than Gaziano (who played and produced well against Big-10 competition at Northwestern).
On top of that is also the eye test. Gaziano fits better into the mold of a backup for Ingram and Bosa due to his size. Lemonier will need to rely more on finesse pass-rushing moves at this level due to being 40 pounds smaller than Gaziano.
Of course, that is not to say that Lemonier and Holly will not be able to make it from their smaller schools – Austin Ekeler has shown us all that the level of competition faced in college does not necessarily equate to ability against better opponents.
Still, these men are going to need to do everything to prove it on the practice field to make the initial roster and not be left to the practice squad.