* = 2019 full-time starter

Need #1: Quarterback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Philip Rivers (was an older, poor man's version of Jameis Winston in 2019 - showed no regard for ball security, at times his gunslinger mentality hinted at a lack of effort and composure, will be a sad way to end a legendary career - but the Chargers definitely need to move on)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Tyrod Taylor (tier 1 backup QB)
  • Easton Stick (2019 5th rounder, it's too early to give up on him - but his preseason performance did not exactly inspire confidence)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers need to find a franchise QB.

Updates:

  • Drafted in 1st Round: Justin Herbert (he's got the size, the arm, and the athleticism, but the tape shows a player not yet ready for the NFL, there are too many instances of over and under throws, he lacks NFL caliber composure, and the Oregon system - predicated on screen passes - is horrible at preparing QBs for the next level - see Mariota and Joey Harrington, he needs a lot of refinement, which makes his best-case scenario one in which he does not have to play much as a rookie)

Need #2: Offensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Sam Tevi (2017 6th rounder, was below average over 14 starts at RT in 2019)
  • Trey Pipkins (2019 3rd rounder, entered rookie year as small school prospect with intriguing size and athletic ability, struggled across 3 starts but still has developmental upside)
  • Trent Scott (2018 UDFA, made 9 starts in 2019, but did not play well - gave up too many sacks and was heavily penalized)
  • Russell Okung (missed half the season with a medical issue and was ineffective and heavily penalized upon his return, at 31 years old the team will likely look to move on in 2020)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers need to add a new starting LT, they should also consider an upgrade at RT.

Updates:

  • Traded Russell Okung (acquired OG Trai Turner in return)
  • Signed Bryan Bulaga (31 years old, rock-solid RT, played a full 16 game season in 2019 - but historically injuries have been problematic, will be a clear upgrade in LA - but is not a long-term solution)

Need #3: Running Back

Notable Free Agents:

  • Melvin Gordon (was only moderately productive / efficient upon return from holdout - averaged only 3.8 ypc, has only averaged +4.0 ypc once across 5 NFL seasons, doubtful he returns to LA)
  • Austin Ekeler (established himself as one of the best pass-catching RBs in football, but he is not a 3 down workhorse)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Justin Jackson (2018 7th rounder, 6.9 ypc on 29 attempts, 4 of those carries went for 20+, should move into a more significant role if either Gordon or Ekelder departs)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers will need to either resign Gordon or Ekeler, or bring in a new starter. They will also need to increase depth at the position.

Updates:

  • Resigned Austin Ekeler
  • Drafted in 4th Round: Joshua Kelley (solid production at UCLA, though numbers did dip a bit from junior to senior year, physical running style - invites contact, has good hands for a RB, nice effort in pass pro, projects as a quality RB2)

Need #4: Tight End

Notable Free Agents:

  • Hunter Henry (has put up good - not great numbers across 4 seasons with the team, injuries have been a limitation, type of young player they'll want to bring back - but don't know if he will be worth the inflated market price)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Virgil Green (only 9 receptions in 2019 - has limited upside at 31 years old, Chargers could do better at TE2)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers need to either resign or replace Hunter Henry, they also need to increase depth and competition.

Updates:

  • Franchise-tagged Hunter Henry
  • Signed Donald Parham (led all XFL TEs in yards and receptions, inturging 6-8 height, went undrafted and bounced around a few teams in 2019 - but there is some promise here)

Need #5: Interior Offensive Line

Notable Free Agents:

  • Michael Schofield* (has started 32/32 games at RG over the past two seasons, quality of play has been below average)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Mike Pouncey* (center, probably the Chargers best OL, made the Pro Bowl in 2018, but missed the majority of the 2019 season with a neck injury, his status for the start of the 2020 season is unclear)
  • Dan Feeney (guard, 2017 3rd rounder, wowed as a rookie but has regressed since then, may be given another an opportunity to start and turn it around in 2020)
  • Forrest Lamp (guard, 2017 2nd rounder, career has never really gotten off the ground due to injury, there is still hope he breaks through - but time is running out)
  • Scott Quessenberry (center, 2018 5th rounder, ended up starting 9 games due to Pouncey injury - and played fairly well, has starting upside going forward)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers need to bring in at least one (arguably two) new starting guards.

Updates:

  • Traded for Trai Turner (high-quality starting guard in prime of career, got him in a straight swap for Okung - which equates to a very solid deal for the Chargers)

Need #6: Linebacker

Notable Free Agents:

  • Jatavis Brown (relegated to reserve work in 2019, very athletic but undersized, both sides likely to part ways in 2020)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Denzel Perryman (has yet to complete a full 16 game season through his 5 year career, 2 down LB, has not become the impact player the Chargers hoped he would blossom into, will be a free agent in 2021)
  • Thomas Davis (had a solid first year in LA, but at 36 years old he may be an offseason cap casualty)
  • Drue Tranquill (2019 4th rounder, excelled on special teams and emerged as a quality defensive contributor as a rookie, finished the year as the Chargers 2nd leading tackler, easy to envision him grabbing a full-time starting role in 2020)
  • Kyzir White (2018 4th rounder, showed promise in a part-time role in 2019, offers nice versatility given his previous experience at safety, there are still some reported concerns about his knee)
  • Emeke Egbule (2019 6th rounder, only saw action on special teams in 2019, has have enough upside to expand role in 2020)

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • Tranquill is the only LB on the roster that has an obvious long-term future in LA. Meaning the Chargers need to add at least one starter and increase competition and depth at the position.

Updates:

  • Released Thomas Davis
  • Signed Nick Vigil (great statistical production over time in Cincy - but Bengals fans grew frustrated over missed tackles, does fare pretty well in coverage, not clear he will be an upgrade over Davis)
  • Drafted in 1st Round: Kenneth Murray (incredibly talented and athletic sideline to sideline style LB, his tape is fun to watch - he is a true impact defender - makes a lot of plays behind the line and has the speed to keep up in coverage, excellent value at #23)

Need #7: Cornerback

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Casey Hayward (consistently one of league's better CBs, will often erase the WR he's up against, locked in as the team's top corner, only concern at this point is age)
  • Michael Davis (2017 UDFA, has made 21 starts over the past 2 seasons, has shown some promise in coverage - but penalties have been a major issue, tackling also needs improvement)
  • Desmond King (exceled in slot corner role in 2017 and 2018 - but struggled in 2019, is a good tackler, possible he moves to safety next season, contract is up in 2021)
  • Brandon Facyson (2018 UDFA, reserve, made 4 starts in 2019)

Need Level: High

Need:

  • The Chargers need to upgrade the starting CB spot opposite Hayward and increase depth and competition.

Updates:

  • Signed Chris Harris (big-name FA signing, moved from slot to outside CB last year and coverage performance took a slight hit, prior to that was regarded as the best slot CB in football, he's also an effective tackler and pass rusher, will be 31 when season begins - so not exactly a long-term solution, he is expected to play out of the slot in LA)

Need #8: Wide Receiver

Notable Free Agents:

  • Travis Benjamin (speedy deep-threat, missed most of 2019 with a quad injury, team may look for a younger, more durable option)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Keenan Allen (legit WR1, excellent production over the past 3 seasons, appears to have gotten over the injury bug he had in 2015/2016, only area in need of improvement is mediocre TD #s)
  • Mike Williams (2017 1st rounder, career has been a mixed bag thus far - there are moments of dominance but production has mostly been unreliable, his catch rate of 54% must improve)

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • Keenan Allen and Mike Williams make up one of the more talented and dangerous WR duos in the league, but the Chargers lack of proven depth behind those two. The team could use a few more threats at the position.

Updates:

  • Drafted in 5th Round: Joe Reed (built like a RB, production improved each season at UVA, will likely be a slot WR in the NFL, separation and speed are below average but runs well with the ball in his hands, is an excellent kick returner)
  • Drafted in 7th Round: K.J. Hill (has the most receptions in Ohio State history, great route runner, great hands, not an explosive or particularly fast athlete, below average length, the slot may be his best spot as a pro, WR3 / WR4 type who can survive in the NFL for a long time)

Need #9: Defensive Line

Notable Free Agents:

  • Brandon Mebane (has been starting NT since 2016, generates little to no pass rush, but is still a somewhat effective run-stuffer, though age and injury history are working against him)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Justin Jones (2018 3rd rounder, made 12 starts in 2019 - but recorded 0 sacks, is a decent run defender, will need to make a stride forward to keep the starting job in 2020)
  • Jerry Tillery (2019 1st rounder, despite all the hype he only started 3 games and recorded just 2 sacks, was a healthy scratch late in the year, he's talented - but there is no denying that his rookie year was a disappointment)

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • Tillery deserves an opportunity to start in 2020, but you have to imagine the Chargers will target an upgrade for the other DT spot and scope out options to improve depth along the line in general.

Updates:

  • Signed Linval Joseph (31 years old, effective run stuffer, is not much of a pass rusher - 3 sacks in 2019 - but he is more disruptive in that area than Mebane)

Need #10: Edge / OLB

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Joey Bosa (excellent player, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Chargers should sign him long-term)
  • Melvin Ingram (31 years old, sack production has dipped in recent years - but is still a disruptive player and locker room leader, contract is up in 2021)
  • Uchenna Nwosu (2018 2nd rounder, has shown some upside in a rotational role - 5.5 sacks and 8 TFLs, likely to see more action in 2020, there is some breakout potential here)

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers need to begin preparing for life after Ingram, they also could use another rotational pass rusher.

Need #11: Special Teams

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Michael Badgley (missed a decent portion of the season with an injury, but was solid upon return, appears to be the long term solution at kicker)
  • Ty Long (had one of the better punt averages in the league, but was among the worst in terms of pinning the ball inside the 20, he may need to compete for job in 2020)

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers could bring in another punter to compete with Long.

Need #12: Safety

Notable Free Agents:

  • Adrian Phillips (had a phenomenal 2018 season - was an All Pro special teamer and wowed in a LB/S role on defense, but he missed a majority of the 2019 season with injury, will be interesting to see if Chargers retain him - he's clearly a valuable player, but their depth chart is already fully-stocked)
  • Jaylen Watkins (did not stand out across 3 starts in 2019, is versatile - can play CB and S)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Derwin James (2018 1st rounder, 2019 season was disrupted by injury, he should return to Pro Bowl form in 2020, superstar)
  • Rayshawn Jenkins (2017 4th rounder, became a full-time starter in 2019, quality of play was inconsistent - he flashed impact player uspide at times and led the team with 3 INTs - but he also had a fair share of missed tackles and blown coverages, will compete with Adderley for starting job in 2020)
  • Nasir Adderley (2019 2nd rounder, a hamstring injury kept him off the field for the majority of his rookie year - which allowed Jenkins to claim the starting safety spot - which Adderley will now have to compete for in 2020)

Need Level: Low

Need to Address:

  • The Chargers have three young and talented safeties on the roster, plus Desmond King could move to this position - needless to say there is not much of a need here.

Updates:

  • Drafted in 6th Round: Alohi Gilman (productive 2 seasons at Notre Dame, fearless box safety but can get over aggressive at times - which leads to missed tackles and coverage issues, projects as a quality special teamer with a moderate amount of defensive upside)