The Los Angeles Chargers, on paper, are absolutely loaded. The Chargers have All-Star talent at many offensive and defensive positions. That said, there are some players on this roster with high expectations and little payoff. These players showed promise in college, but have not transferred that talent they displayed in the NCAA to the NFL level. And if these players truly break out this upcoming season, they could see a huge payday coming their way. Here are three Chargers that need to have breakout years in 2022.
This pick was sort of obvious. Any Chargers fan who reads that title will likely picture Jerry Tillery. A star defensive lineman at Notre Dame, Tillery had high expectations placed on him when the Chargers drafted him 28th overall in 2019. However, Tillery has not nearly lived up to expectations in Los Angeles. Since his rookie season in 2019-20, Tillery has racked up a total of 97 tackles and 9.5 sacks in three seasons. Those numbers are far from what is expected from a first-round pick, even if it was a late pick in the round.
On May 3rd, 2022, the Los Angeles Chargers officially declined TIllery’s 5th-year option. That means that 2022-23 will be Tillery’s last season in the powder blues. If Tillery wants an extension with the Chargers or a solid contract with another team, Tillery will need to have a breakout year. However, with the additions of Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson on the defensive line, Tillery may struggle to have that breakout season.
Nasir Adderley is the starting free safety for the Chargers, lining up next to star strong safety Derwin James. While James has more than lived up to expectations in his limited playing time, Nasir has yet to have a true breakout season. While he certainly hasn’t been a net-negative when he plays (unlike Tillery), Adderley is moreso just an “okay” starter. Adderley actually was part of the same draft as Tillery, drafted in the second round (pick 60) by the Chargers. While expectations were not as high for Adderley as they were for Tillery, Adderley still has underperformed.
Adderley, like Tillery, is also in a contract year. As a second-round pick, Adderley was not given a 5th-year option. So, once the 2022-23 season ends, Adderley will be a free agent. Not to mention, the Chargers drafted Adderley’s likely replacement in this year’s draft: third-round pick JT Woods from Baylor. If Adderley has a down year, the Chargers will likely let him walk and give the spot to Woods. If he has a breakout year, though, he could see a nice extension from the Chargers, and his starting job will be saved.
Storm Norton is the starting right tackle for the Chargers. He plays opposite Rashawn Slater, the sophomore sensation at left tackle. Slater had an absolutely stellar 2022 campaign, earning Pro Bowl honors in his rookie year. Norton, on the other hand, is barely fighting for a starting job. Norton was mediocre at best in 2021-22, and was often a liability on the right side of the line. His play at right tackle was a major reason quarterback Justin Herbert needed to scramble so often.
Norton, like Tillery and Adderley, is in a contract year. After the 2022-23 season, Norton will be a free agent, and there isn’t exactly a huge market for Norton. So, if Norton wants that job security, he needs to step his game up. Because, with a name like Storm, he should be playing like a Pro Bowler with a team that’s called the Chargers.
Tillery, Adderley, and Norton are all players that have yet to reach their true potential. Whether it’s their own fault, or a poor coaching job, is up for debate, but the fact of the matter is this: as it stands, none of these three are likely to get an extension to stay with the Chargers, unless they either have a breakout year or take reduced contracts. These are the three Chargers that need to have breakout years.