J.C. Jackson had minor ankle surgery on Tuesday and has been given a timetable of 2-4 weeks to return to action. In the best-case scenario, the Pro Bowl corner will be back for Week 1 as the LA Chargers take on the Las Vegas Raiders.
However, a more realistic scenario is that Jackson misses Week 1 and potentially misses Week 2 as well since it is on a short week. That Thursday Night Football matchup is against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is another tough game to lose Jackson for.
While the top-end talent is there, the depth at cornerback still is not the best, especially with Jackson out. Brandon Staley and co. are going to have to figure out what the cornerback depth chart looks like for these games and Chargers fans better hope they get it right.
How the LA Chargers cornerback depth chart should look after J.C. Jackson's injury:
1. Michael Davis
As crazy as it sounds, I am making Michael Davis the CB1 against the Las Vegas Raiders and potentially Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City should not be much of a problem as the team does not have a true elite WR1 anymore but the Raiders obviously have Davante Adams.
However is lined up against Adams is going to need help anyway so I would rather see Davis get the job with his size and speed and allow other options to cover guys like Hunter Renfrow.
Davis has played positively during the preseason and in training camp and while he is not suited to stop Adams, the hope is that with some added help he can continue his strong play and at least limit Adams.
2. Asante Samuel Jr.
As far as the Raiders' matchup is concerned, I am putting Davis on Adams and Asante Samuel Jr. against Hunter Renfrow. Samuel is going to have to do more by himself with help instead going towards Adams' side of the field and I would rather him be one-on-one with Renfrow than Michael Davis.
Not only does Samuel have good coverage abilities but he does not have to deal with any big size mismatch against Renfrow, as both players stand in at 5-foot-10. Right now Davis and Samuel are battling for the CB2 but without Jackson, Davis gets the CB1 while Samuel gets CB2. That does not decide the CB2 battle, though.
3. Bryce Callahan
Bryce Callahan might be the glue that holds the Chargers' secondary together without J.C. Jackson. Callahan has looked really strong in training camp and even once Jackson returns, Callahan will still get starting reps as the slot corner.
Of course, we have to see it translate to the regular season first but if Callahan can play like he has in camp then he is going to be a significantly better slot corner option than the Chargers had last season.
4. Mark Webb (if he is healthy)
This is where it gets a bit dicey for the LA Chargers. The cornerback depth outside of the top three is not great and as far as the first week or two are concerned, I would have Mark Webb essentially lining up as a cornerback.
Webb is a safety but he does have good coverage abilities that will allow him to play cornerback in nickel and dime looks. As long as safety stays healthy, the Chargers can more than get by with Derwin James and Nasir Adderley playing most of the snaps with JT Woods getting some looks.
Of all the potential players that can fill in at this fourth corner role that would otherwise go to Davis or Samuel, I like Webb coming down and playing corner the most. Webb is dealing with a calf issue, though, so there is a chance that he is out of commission for Week 1. If so, the Chargers are just going to have to make do and elevate no. 5 on this list to no. 4.
5. Ja'Sir Taylor
Ja'Sir Taylor has shown potential in camp and he is one of several defensive backs that was drafted on traits. There is going to be a learning curve for Taylor, especially early in his rookie season. The Chargers give him a bit of a break here by giving Webb more snaps at corner against a tough receiving corps.
How the rest of the room shakes out does not really matter much, as the sixth cornerback in Week 1 or 2 could be Deane Leonard, Brandon Sebastian, or whoever stands out in the final preseason game of the year.
When it comes to the top five, though, that is how I would probably lay it out while Jackson is out. Once he returns, you can slide one of Davis/Samuel to CB4, Webb back to safety and keep the depth behind them as is.