NFL

3 undrafted free agents with best shot to make Chargers’ 53-man roster

The Chargers have a storied history of turning undrafted free agents into productive players, including a 20+ year streak of an undrafted rookie making the opening day roster that ended in 2020.

Players like future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, special teams ace Kassim Osgood, and starting running back Austin Ekeler are among those who have made a name for themselves in powder blue after clawing their way to a roster spot as rookies.

With that being said, here are three players with the best chance to join those ranks this season.

RB Kevin Marks Jr.

Marks will have to prove that he’s more deserving of a roster spot than former draft picks Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III, as well as fellow UDFA Leddie Brown, but he brings a quickness that the RB room lacks outside of Ekeler. As a rusher, he’s a bit too eager to find a big play instead of taking what the defense gives him, which can often turn an easy three or four-yard gain into a prolonged one or two-yard loss. However, his quick feet in space could make him a valuable receiving option if Ekeler is forced to miss time for any reason.

TE Erik Krommenhoek

If Los Angeles elects to carry four tight ends, as they did a season ago, I think the fourth spot will come down to Krommenhoek and Hunter Kampmoyer. Gerald Everett and Donald Parham will be the primary receiving threats from the position, while second-year pro-Tre’ McKitty continues to work towards rounding out his game as the versatile Y-tight end. That could leave room for a pure blocker on the roster, which fits Krommenhoek’s game. However, he’ll have to first surpass Kampmoyer and then convince the staff that the fourth tight end spot shouldn’t be passed over in favor of carrying an extra defensive lineman, where spots are also hard to come by.

EDGE Ty Shelby

Shelby is probably the most talented UDFA the Chargers signed, although he has a long way to go before he’s considered a finished product. All-Pros Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack are locked in, as is veteran Kyle Van Noy, which leaves one or two spots up for grabs between Shelby, 2021 fourth-round pick Chris Rumph, and Canadian Football League signee Jamal Davis II. Tom Telesco’s regime has proven willing to give draft picks a long developmental leash, putting Shelby at a disadvantage in the EDGE4 race behind Rumph. Carrying five pass rushers is a possibility, especially if Van Noy will split time at inside linebacker, but this is a talented roster with very thin margins. Expect whichever combination of the three that don’t make the opening roster to be priority practice squad additions.


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