There are a lot of candidates for the Chargers to have a breakout season. Narrowing it down to just five guys is a very tough project. But here are my choices for the five that will most likely breakout.
Quick note: I am not putting Ingram in this, although I do believe he will breakout. I wrote about that separately. You can read it here.
5.) Center, Chris Watt
Chris Watt has been selected by the Chargers’ coaching staff to be the heir apparent to Nick Hardwick. He played in a few games there last season (as did 4 other centers) before ending his season with an injury. From all the reports I have read, it seems like the former Notre Dame guard is picking up the center position very quickly and looks to be a very solid replacement.
4.) Nose Tackle, Ryan Carrethers
Ryan Carrethers, a fifth-round draft selection in 2014, is a very big and athletic nose tackle. He was starting to understand the pro game last season, coming into his own before his season ended with a dislocated elbow in the week 11 game versus the Raiders. I think he eventually takes over the starting NT job from Sean Lissemore, and has a very nice impact on stopping the run on defense.
3.) Inside linebacker, Manti Te’o
With the addition of linebackers coach Mike Nolan, you could really add any LB here. I went with Te’o because he seemed to improve his played late during the 2014 campaign. He was having a really nice year last year after coming back off a foot injury. If he can stay healthy this season, expect him to continue to hone his skills and become a solid force for years to come.
2.) Wide Receiver, Stevie Johnson
Stevie Johnson had really fallen off the map after his three best seasons in Buffalo. Those strong years were followed by two sub-par seasons; one with Buffalo, and one with San Francisco. Stevie Johnson signed a three-year deal with San Diego in the offseason. Philip Rivers and Johnson have built a strong rapport in the few months they have been working together. Look for a huge season from SJ11.
1.) Cornerback, Jason Verrett
Jason Verrett is going to have a monster season….. if he stays healthy. He has all the ability and talent to become a legitimate No. 1, lockdown cornerback. The one big flaw to his game is he needs to cut down on the big hits and keep himself healthy, a thing that has hurt him his senior year at TCU and his rookie season in the NFL. I do think Verrett has learned from his past injuries and now will focus on staying healthy. He will have the biggest impact on this Chargers team in 2015. He will lead a unit that comes in with big expectations (from me), and I believe they will live up to those.
Honorable mentions: LB Donald Butler, OLB Kyle Emanuel, S Jahleel Addae, WR Keenan Allen
Who do you think will breakout this season? Let me know below!