COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers ended their offseason program on June 14. Here's a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals: Fixing an abysmal kicking situation and adding more speed to improve the run defense were points of emphasis for the Chargers this offseason. The Chargers signed kickers Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo in free agency, and those two players will compete for the kicking job during preseason in August. First-round pick Derwin James, a safety, was one of four defensive players selected by the Chargers in the first four rounds of this year's draft, as the Chargers look to beef up a run defense that gave up a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry last season.
How they fared: Average
Move I liked: The Chargers have not had a talented player like Mike Pouncey at center since Nick Hardwick retired in 2014. The play of the athletic Pouncey has been one of the bright spots for the Bolts during offseason work, and should help improve a running game that averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 2017, No. 26 in the NFL. "He's a good football player," Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said about Pouncey. "That was really a tremendous get by our guys, [general manager] Tom [Telesco] and his staff. To be able to pull that off was fantastic. I've seen him for a number of years, and he's obviously a very good center. He brings a lot to the table from that standpoint."
Move I didn't like: The Chargers did not bring back an aging Antonio Gates in free agency, which in retrospect might have been a mistake considering how thin the team is at tight end after Hunter Henry was lost for the season after suffering an ACL knee injury on the first day of organized team activities. The Chargers have contacted Gates' representation and have a chance to rectify the issue by signing the future Hall of Famer to a new deal in time for training camp.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Can the Chargers fulfill lofty expectations and win the AFC West? NFL prognosticators anointed the Chargers as the favorites to win the division. However, the Chargers have not reached the postseason since 2013, and have not won the AFC West since 2009. How the Chargers respond to playing as the favorite during the first part of the year will go a long way to determining if this team is heading toward the postseason. The Chargers started last year 0-4, and cannot have another poor start if they are going to compete for an AFC West Division crown.
Quotable: "Our expectations are high, but everybody is. If you go around the other 31 teams, everybody's excited about what this new season's going to bring. We just have to keep our head down, I think. There's a little more hype around us this year than maybe last. We can't let that -- shoot, we haven't won the division in a long time. We have a lot of work to do. We certainly believe we can get it done." -- Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers
Salary-cap space: $8,824,681, (source: NFLPA)
2018 draft picks: 1. S Derwin James (Florida State); 2. LB Uchenna Nwosu (USC); 3. DT Justin Jones (N.C. State); 4. LB Kyzir White (West Virginia); 5. OL Scott Quessenberry (UCLA); 6. WR Dylan Cantrell (Texas Tech); 7. RB Justin Jackson (Northwestern).
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: CB Tony Brown (Alabama); CB BJ Clay (Georgia State); OT Zach Crabtree (Oklahoma State); OT Chris Durant (William & Mary); CB Marcus Edmond (Clemson); CB Brandon Facyson (Virginia Tech); OL Zack Golditch (Colorado State); DE Albert Havili (Eastern Washington); LB D'Juan Hines (Houston); TE Cole Hunt (TCU); DT Bijhon Jackson (Arkansas); TE Ben Johnson (Kansas); WR JJ Jones (West Georgia); DL Tevin Lawson (Nicholls State); FB Anthony Manzo-Lewis (Albany); RB Detrez Newsome (Western Carolina); DT Steven Richardson (Minnesota); TE Austin Roberts (UCLA); OL Trent Scott (Grambling State); WR Kent Shelby (McNeese State); QB Nic Shimonek (Texas Tech); P Shane Tripucka (Texas A&M).
Players acquired via trade: None