With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the San Diego Chargers' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: Melvin Gordon gives the Chargers a home-run threat at running back. Gordon exceeded expectations during offseason work, which is impressive, considering goals were high for the Wisconsin product after he was selected in the first round of the draft as the replacement for the departed Ryan Mathews. However, Gordon has to take the next step in training camp, which means playing fast and physical, as well as keeping up with a fast-paced San Diego offense led by Philip Rivers.
Riskiest move: Even though San Diego finished 29th in the NFL, with 26 sacks last season, the Chargers did not sign a pass-rusher in free agency. They waited until the fifth round to select Kyle Emanuel out of Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse North Dakota State. Although Emanuel looks like he can contribute, the Chargers are relying on Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu to fill the void at edge-rusher. The two flashed potential as impact players last season but missed a combined 12 games in 2014. Both have to stay healthy for the duration of 2015 for San Diego’s pass-rush numbers to improve.
More speed, depth in secondary: Defensive coordinator John Pagano wanted to add speed and physicality in the defensive backfield. Mission accomplished. The Chargers signed safety Jimmy Wilson and slot defender Patrick Robinson in free agency. Both should compete for starting jobs and will play either on early downs or in sub packages. After ending 2014 with a second shoulder surgery, Jason Verrett looks like he could emerge as one of the better cover corners in the league. Young cornerbacks such as Richard Crawford and Greg Ducre consistently made plays during offseason work. Cornerback Brandon Flowers and safety Eric Weddle provide veteran leadership and steady play to round out the group. The Chargers had 18 interceptions the past two seasons, tied for second-worst in the NFL in that time frame. Those numbers should improve in 2015.
Training camp outlook: The Chargers are relatively healthy heading into the start of training camp July 30, and that’s a good sign for a team that finished one game short of the playoffs in 2014, due in part to injuries. General manager Tom Telesco did a good job improving overall depth on the roster. He still needs to work on a long-term contract extension for Rivers before training camp, as well as figuring out how to handle Weddle and his frustrations over not having a new deal. Finally, the big issue for this franchise is where the team will be playing in 2016: Los Angeles or San Diego?