In less than 24 hours the 2016 San Diego Chargers will take the field for training camp. Bringing you continual coverage of the names in the program we don’t know, today, I focus my player spotlight on tight end prospect Matt Weiser.
Weiser signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent the day after the 2016 NFL Draft. He played for the Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Listed at 6’5″, 241-pounds, Weiser is the ideal size preferred for a San Diego Chargers tight end. He comes in on the heels of a breakout senior year in which he posted a school-record for catches and receiving yards by a tight end. He was also a Coaches’ selection to the All-MAC Conference First Team in 2015.
Weiser lit up the MAC with 63 catches for 625 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. For his career, he logged 92 catches for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns. Weiser concluded the 2015 NCAA season with the fourth-highest receiving grade among tight ends.
At the Buffalo Pro Day, Weiser ran the 40-yard dash in 4.80-seconds, posted 18 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, a 30-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, six inches. Watching the video below, it’s easy to see what the Chargers’ war room saw in the young prospect. He has performed well against big name opponents and was versatile enough to play both sides of the ball.
The competition at tight end will be fierce in training camp. Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry are already slotted in as the top-two tight ends on the depth chart. After that, there is a logjam for the third tight end slot. Also in the mix with Weiser are veterans Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, Sean McGrath and fellow undrafted free agent rookie Tim Semisch.
Not everyone will make the cut. One more name can be expected to make the 53-man roster and a couple others will be moved to the practice squad. A couple others will play in a different uniform. One thing for certain, the race to be the heir apparent to the Hall-of-Fame bound Gates is on and it will be one of the most intriguing position battles to watch as training camp is set to open Saturday.
Weiser will be catching passes wearing number 46. Follow him on Twitter: @mweiser89.
Good luck, Mr. Weiser.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers secured the future of the tight end position with their selection of Arkansas Razorbacks All-American, John Mackey Award-winning stud Hunter Henry in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Henry is tabbed as the heir apparent to Hall-of-Fame bound Antonio Gates. As we all know, injuries are a very real thing in pro football. The Chargers have been decimated by injuries season after season. Unfortunately, not all high draft picks pan out.
One can never be too prepared.
With the first two slots on the depth chart filled, the challenge of finding a solid third tight end will be an interesting camp battle to watch. Stepping up to the challenge are:
1. Asante Cleveland, a second-year pro out of the University of Miami.
2. Jeff Cumberland, a seventh-year pro who spent his first six seasons with the New York Jets.
3. Sean McGrath, a second-year pro out of Henderson State.
4. Matt Weiser, an undrafted free agent rookie out of the University of Buffalo.
One of the biggest long shots in the field is literally the biggest of the entire group. While the aforementioned four players all average a stout 6’5″, 250-pounds, Tim Semisch stands 6’8″, 267-pounds.
Semischs’ pro career began with the Miami Dolphins where he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. After toiling away on the Dolphins’ practice squad he was released in November and signed to the Chargers’ practice squad in December.
Semisch signed a futures contract in January 2016 and will be competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. Semisch played his college ball at Northern Illinois University. While he’s not fast (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 at NIU’s pro day), his height, length and versatility will be features that make him a viable candidate as a possible third tight end or special teams.
In a pre-draft interview, Semisch explained that at NIU he was able to take advantage of his size advantage, be a good pass catcher or blocker, can rush the passer if needed and he also became a good long snapper. He stated his desire to play wherever is necessary to make the team.
While he was used primarily as a blocker he did show the ability to make big plays in the passing game, as evidenced in the video clip below. In three seasons he caught a grand total of ten passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. If he makes the 53-man roster with Rivers throwing him the ball, he’s likely to eclipse those numbers in one game.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TDSemisch82
Here’s to rooting for the underdog and unearthing more diamonds in the rough! Good luck Mr. Semisch.
The Greg One
Excitement and enthusiasm is in the air for the 2016-2017 edition of the San Diego Chargers. At this time in the offseason, it’s in the air for the fans of the other 31 NFL teams as well. With the free agency, NFL Draft period over and what looks to be a loaded 90-man roster in place, hope for a successful season is renewed.
Time to take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment and look at the team from an analytics standpoint. The Chargers do look like they have helped themselves immensely this offseason. To take a closer look I am going to dissect the offense and assign each aspect of the offense a point value. These will be the points I expect that aspect of the offense to generate every game. Of course that number is subject to change based on injuries, offseason acquisitions etc…
The points will then be added and that will be the expected points-per-game expectation for the offense. Some of you will think I’ve graded too harshly while others will think not harshly enough but it’s a jumping off point and that’s the objective. I’ll be looking forward to reading your views in the comments below.
The offense begins and ends with Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ iron man, Rivers has not missed a single game in ten seasons. His streak is second-longest in the NFL behind Eli Manning of the New York Giants (183). Rivers only trails Manning because Rivers didn’t start until his third season while Manning started in his rookie year.
Over the last three seasons, Rivers has averaged a stat line of 398-591 for 4,518 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and two fumbles lost. What’s more, he has averaged 56 passes of 20-yards or more and slightly over seven completions of 40-yards or more. This impressive stat line comes despite woeful offensive line play that has him getting sacked an average of 35 times over that same three-season period.
Last season, Rivers threw for career-highs in attempts (661), completions (437) and yards (4,792). The running game was non-existent and the Chargers went through 25 offensive line changes. The weight of being the only reliable offensive option took its toll on Rivers and the Bolts record. This year, a more balanced offense will yield better results on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Points-per-game expectation: 14
Running backs and fullbacks
Franchise running back Melvin Gordon had a disappointing rookie season. The Chargers, the fans and Gordon himself expected better than the 184 carries for 641 yards he accumulated in 14 games. Gordon is still awaiting his first NFL regular season touchdown and needs to improve his ball security. Four of Gordons’ six fumbles were recovered by the defense.
Danny Woodhead was the most consistent running back and the leading receiver for the Chargers last season. Woodhead had 98 carries for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Receiving, Woodhead amassed 80 receptions for 755 yards with six touchdowns. Take away the 2014 season in which Woodhead missed all but three games with a broken leg; in 2013 and 2015 Woodhead has averaged 382 yards and 2.5 touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts and 680 yards and six touchdowns on 78 receptions.
Branden Oliver was rarely seen in 2015 but showed his worth in 2014 after the injury to Woodhead where he emerged to lead the Chargers in rushing in 2014 as a rookie. Last season he had 31 attempts for 108 yards rushing at 13 receptions for 112 yards receiving. The coaching staff has expressed their desire to add Oliver in the mix in 2016 which is an intriguing prospect. Time will tell.
In the sixth round San Diego selected Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt. The significance of this selection is Watt was Gordons’ blocking fullback each of his three seasons at Wisconsin. It’s reasonable to expect the two already have a chemistry and understanding of one another that will translate to the field.
The new rule that chop blocks will not be allowed on the line of scrimmage will make having a good fullback on the field more important. This will also slowly bring about the re-emergence of Power-I formations. Not coincidentally, the Power-I is the formation Watt and Gordon ran to NCAA record-smashing success. There is change brewing in the run game and it will only help the offense as a whole.
Points per-game expectation: 6
At 36 years young, Hall of Fame bound Antonio Gates enters his 14th NFL season after re-signing with the Bolts for two more seasons. The eight-time Pro Bowler began the 2015 season on the suspended list, missing four games for taking a banned substance. He played well in the eleven games he saw the field afterward, tallying 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Gates contemplated retirement before the end of last season but after the Chargers dismal season, Gates opted to return. He told the media “I didn’t want to go out like that.”
Gates finds himself on the precipice of NFL history this season. With eight touchdowns, Gates (104) will surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) into first place for touchdowns scored by a tight end. Over his brilliant career, Gates averages eight touchdowns a season. He is the most reliable part of the passing game. Starting the season from week one, expecting a better statistical season than 2015 is almost a certainty as long as he stays healthy.
The Chargers did draft the heir apparent to Gates when they drafted Hunter Henry our of Arkansas with their second round pick. The 6’5″, 250-pounder was a first-team All-SEC selection and winner of the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end in 2015. Henry collected 51 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns. As sure-handed as they come, Henry did not drop a single pass last season.
Vying for a slot on the roster are Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, and undrafted free agent Matt Weiser. All fit the mold the Chargers like at standing 6’5″, 260-pounds. The most intriguing prospect may be Tim Semisch, a one-year pro who stands an imposing 6’8″, 267.
Points per-game expectation: 4
Come back tomorrow for part two of my breakdown including the wide receivers, offensive line, coaching staff and final summary. I hope you have enjoyed my analytical breakdown. Do you agree or disagree so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One