The LA Chargers did a great job this offseason in doing whatever had to be done to retain most of the roster from the 2022 season. After all, it was a talented group of players that could have made a much deeper run in the NFL Playoffs than what ultimately happened.
While fans should be happy with the roster that is rolling into the 2023 season, the Bolts are still going to need some upgrades from last year. Being healthy will naturally be an upgrade in upon itself but last year's team still needed a bit more help if it was going to get over the hump and make a Super Bowl run.
The Chargers didn't add much external help this offseason so that might seem like a big ask. That is why the team is going to need to get help from the players already on the roster that might not have had a huge role in 2022.
The Chargers need their sophomores to step up to contend in 2023
If the Chargers are going to reach their ceiling in 2023 then the sophomores on the team are going to have to step up. Not every second-year player needs to be hugely impactful but there are several players that will end up being the ultimate difference-maker this season.
After unproductive rookie seasons, the Chargers need to get something out of safety JT Woods and running back Isaiah Spiller. Both rookies were developmental players in 2022 and thus, they did not play much of a role at all on the team.
The starting safety position next to Derwin James is still a huge question for the Chargers and Woods could provide a great answer. Meanwhile, the depth behind Austin Ekeler is very concerning as the team really seems to be banking on Spiller taking that next step to provide a reliable option.
If the Chargers can get above-average starters out of both Woods and Spiller then it will be a massive boost for the team and can legitimately be the difference between winning or losing a particular game in the NFL Playoffs.
Ja'Sir Taylor is another name to keep an eye on after he shined in training camp and then started to get playing time toward the end of the season. J.C. Jackson's recovery timeline is ahead of schedule but the team should still be careful with him, giving Taylor more playing time early on as a result. With Bryce Callahan not returning, Taylor has the opportunity to step up and be hugely impactful at slot corner.
Then we have the two sophomores on the offensive line that can take this great Chargers offensive line into being an elite one. Zion Johnson had some rookie bumps in his first season but showed signs of being a quality NFL guard. Jamaree Salyer stepped up in a massive way at left tackle and is now going to get the chance to play right guard, where he could be even better.
If both Johnson and Salyer live up to their potential in year two then Justin Herbert could very well have the best pass-blocking offensive line in the entire sport. That alone is enough to take a team deep into the NFL Playoffs.
Do the Chargers need all of the second-year players to step up to have a successful season? No. But if every second-year player does step up then we could see a type of season that fans have not seen for a very long time.