The LA Chargers have a fullback battle on their hands between Gabe Nabers and Bobby Holly in training camp.
While it’s not one of the most talked-about positions, fullback still deserves your attention. Former Charger Derek Watt decided to take his talents to Pittsburgh in the offseason. Now, the LA Chargers will likely pick his replacement from one of two undrafted free agents.
Bobby Holly is more of a prototypical fullback. LA Tech’s truck pulling powerhouse comes into training camp at 6’1″ 250 pounds. Holly is a very physical blocker and can lead block from a number of spots on the field:
While Holly is primarily a blocker, he was used in red zone rushing looks in his senior year. But at the NFL level, Holly is probably a pure blocker. There might be some contribution towards special teams on occasion.
Holly will be wearing Lorenzo Neal‘s #41 if he does make the team. Some Chargers fans view that as the potential ceiling for him, which would be awesome. Personally, I see Holly as more of a Le’Ron McClain type given his build. In general, he’s not the most athletic, but his physicality and wrecking ball nature can give teams trouble.
The other candidate for the fullback spot is FSU’s Gabe Nabers. Nabers is a great blocker, but he’s not necessarily only a blocker. Nabers came into college as a fullback before he was converted to a tight end. That versatility is one of the reasons that the Chargers could pick him.
Nabers comes in at 6’3″ 243 pounds. While he’s not the thumper that Holly is, he’s more than capable as a blocker. He was also blocking at a Division I program:
Former FB and now TE, Gabe Nabers, puts a very nice block on LB Dontavious Jackson here. #Noles
(via Florida State Seminoles/YouTube) pic.twitter.com/yQPDJC6v4O
— Logan B. Robinson (@LogansTwitty) August 5, 2019
Special teams is one of the areas in which I’d personally go with Nabers over Holly. He has better speed as is able to run all over the field on kickoffs and punts. That’s one of the things that really separates Nabers from Holly at this time: quality speed and athleticism.
The ability to play tight end is a difference-maker for me as well. In his senior season at Florida State, Nabers lined up in the slot, main tight end, behind the tackle and guard, and next to the quarterback. Being able to block from all of those spots AND be a receiving threat is huge. 15 catches for 221 yards is also nice production for a convert.
The Chargers have always valued versatility in the Anthony Lynn era. Derwin James is able to play at all three levels of the defense. The running back group has three players with mostly different strengths. 2020 draft pick Joe Reed can potentially be the third receiver and make an impact on kickoff returns.
If the Chargers were planning on having a 90’s style run-heavy offense were the ball is being ran 35+ times a game, Holly would be the clear favorite.
Even though some on the staff say the Chargers will be run-heavy, it’ll be more 2020 run-heavy than what that term meant in the ’80s or ’90s. Simply put, I don’t see the LA Chargers getting 30+ running back runs a game, even with Tyrod Taylor as the starter.
While many like Holly as a blocker, Nabers is just able to do a lot more on offense and special teams. To me, that’s a huge leg up in the fullback battle. While Holly has a lot of physical strength, I’d say Nabers actually has more athleticism in his ability to line up everywhere on the field and on special teams. If their blocking abilities are similar, Lynn probably leans towards Nabers’ versatility.