This article is part of our 2020 Training Camp Preview series.
Expanding upon our team preview collection from earlier this offseason, we're gearing up for an irregular August with a series of team-specific articles to get you up to speed for training camp. You can find the previous writeup on the Los Angeles Chargers here.
State of the Franchise
The success of the Chargers' 2020 season will depend on the development of No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert. The Oregon product becomes the heir apparent to franchise icon Philip Rivers, who joined the Colts this offseason in an effort to chase an elusive Super Bowl title. It certainly seems as if the team plans to ease the rookie quarterback into his surroundings, with coach Anthony Lynn saying veteran Tyrod Taylor is "in the driver's seat" for the Week 1 start.
But for a franchise desperately trying to attract an audience – and hoping to build a wave of momentum in a new stadium shared with the Los Angeles Rams – gleaning any sort of promise from Herbert almost means more than wins or losses. The first-round pick has plenty of tools around him to succeed when he eventually enters the starting lineup, joined by Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry, who are all healthy as of this writing. There's a lot to like with the Chargers, but in order for 2020 to be a success, Herbert must live up to the hype of his draft standing.
The Chargers don't offer much intrigue in terms of job battles. Tyrod Taylor is expected to cede the starting role to Herbert at some point in the near future, but how soon will depend on Taylor's success coupled with Herbert's maturation in an offseason devoid of most team activities. Joe Reed and Andre Patton could have a battle for the No. 3 receiver job, but the role doesn't figure to come with many targets in an offense built around Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Mike Williams.
The most interesting competition is the one between Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley to be the No. 2 RB behind Austin Ekeler. Despite Ekeler's brilliance last season in a four-game stint as a starter, the Chargers' front office repeatedly expressed concern regarding his expanded workload, an issue that largely went to the wayside after Melvin Gordon's return from his ill-fated holdout.
Gordon is gone, but that workload concern still lingers, which explains the decision to draft Kelley in the fourth round this year. Whoever wins the job will have a shot to see regular carries, as the second running back in the Chargers offense could see close to 50 percent of the team's snaps depending on the game script.
The veteran center might not directly make an impact on fantasy teams, but the Chargers' offensive efficiency completely fell apart after Pouncey was placed on injured reserve in October due to a neck injury that eventually required surgery. It was initially thought the issue could be career-ending, but the 30-year-old received medical clearance in the offseason to continue his career. A passionate and respected leader on the offensive line, Pouncey could make a sizable difference for a unit that, on paper, looks to be the best the Chargers have rostered in years (they signed RT Bryan Bulaga and traded for RG Trai Turner).
The second of the Chargers' two 2020 first-round picks after they traded second- and third-round selections to move up in the draft, Murray is expected to be healthy in time for training camp after injuring his hamstring during the 40-yard dash at the combine. While there was never a specific report regarding the severity of the injury, it was bad enough to force Murray to skip his pro day a couple weeks later. The young linebacker compiled 257 tackles in his final two seasons at Oklahoma, and he should rack up similar numbers as a three-down 'backer behind a potent defensive line.
A 2019 second-round pick, Adderley was essentially forced to redshirt his rookie campaign after aggravating a preseason hamstring injury. The 23-year-old enters his second season in a surprisingly prominent role after special teams ace and starting safety Adrian Phillips was signed away by the Patriots. Rayshawn Jenkins, who started all 16 games last season due to a number of injuries at safety, also projects to compete for the role, and the Chargers could even employ Desmond King at safety in some capacity after signing veteran Chris Harris to play cornerback. Regardless, Adderley at least figures to have a role in sub packages.