Special Teams (3): Ty Long, Alex Kessman, Ryan Langan
Special teams is the hardest unit to predict on the team in my opinion. Unfortunately, most of the kicking competition occurs at training camp where we won’t really be able to see who makes the most field goals or PATs.
ST coordinator Derius Swinton has given us some interesting nuggets to chew on though. For one, he did say that the team would prefer to have one kicker for both kickoffs and field goals. That’s a pretty direct quote when it comes to the Michael Badgley-Ty Long relationship the Chargers have employed for the past few years. By no means does that eliminate Badgley from being the starting kicker, but that seems difficult to overcome on paper.
Tristan Vizcaino and Alex Kessman both have big legs. I decided to go with the former Pitt kicker here. Kessman played most of his college career at Heinz Field, which is one of the most difficult NFL stadiums to kick in. In 2020 he hit 79.3% of his field goals and 96.9% of his extra points. Kicking in what is practically a dome stadium could help him boost that FG% quite a bit too.
Of course, kicking competitions are fickle. Caleb Sturgis won the 2018 kicking competition and was cut in six games. It’s anyone’s spot to win (or lose) right now.
Ty Long deserves an opportunity to come back. He’ll compete with Lachlan Edwards, but I don’t see him being beat. Long averaged nearly 47 yards per punt last season and had to deal with some truly putrid special teams blocking ahead of him. If he gets even moderately better blocking under Swinton, it’s not crazy to think he could be a top 5-10 punter.
Cole Mazza and UDFA Ryan Langan will compete for the long snapper job. This one is also a toss up for me. If the Chargers make a change at kicker, it wouldn’t surprise me if they made a change at long snapper too.