5 most under-appreciated Chargers players

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I asked fans on our Facebook and Twitter pages who they believe are the most under-appreciated players on the Chargers. For the most part, the answers were mutual.

With that being said, here are the five most under-appreciated members of Los Angeles heading into the 2021 season:

TE Donald Parham

Signed last offseason, Parham took advantage of his limited opportunities, as well as the season-ending injury to Virgil Green, where he recorded 10 catches for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 20 targets in 2020.

Heading into this season, even with the additions of Jared Cook and rookie Tre’ McKitty, Parham could see an uptick in production from last season due to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s philosophy, where he will be an asset up the seam and a mismatch in the red zone.

During the final season that Lombardi called plays for the Lions, former Lions QB Matthew Stafford targeted the tight end on nearly 25 percent of his passes. In addition, Saints’ Drew Brees relied heavily on his tight ends.

CB Michael Davis

Despite coming into his own last season, Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr. still got the majority of the spotlight at the position. It was until injuries kept Hayward and Harris Jr. off the field when Davis finally started to get the recognition he deserved.

Davis slowed some of the league’s top receivers and made a few big plays in critical situations. He was on the field for 92% of the team’s defensive snaps, logging 64 tackles, 14 passes defensed and three interceptions, all of which were personal bests.

Heading into the upcoming season, Davis’ versatility in coverage, length and athleticism make him an excellent fit for Brandon Staley’s scheme. Yet to make a Pro Bowl appearance, there’s a chance that could change very soon for the 26-year old.

EDGE Uchenna Nwosu

For the past three seasons, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were the focus of attention at the position. All the meanwhile, Nwosu was making impactful plays against the pass and run, yet he was never rewarded for his hard work.

With his defensive snaps being under 40% in 45 career games, Nwosu has still managed to total 10 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 59 quarterback pressures and 44 hurries.

Now heading into his fourth season, Nwosu is in a position to breakout in a big way.

Not only has he flashed enough to be an effective player, but the sky is limit knowing what Staley could do to Nwosu’s game when factoring in what he was able to do with Leonard Floyd with the Rams last season.

Floyd is coming off his most productive year as a pro, totaling career-highs in sacks (12.5), tackles (55) and quarterback hits (19), as well as a career-best 52 total pressures.

If everything clicks, Nwosu could see career-highs in various categories, which could lead to a contract extension since he will be a free agent at the end of the season.

“I think Chenna can be a high-level player in this league. We love how he plays,” general manager Tom Telesco said.

WR Tyron Johnson

Coming into the 2020 season, there was the question of who would be the receivers that would establish themselves as reliable pass-catching options behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

One of those players was Johnson, who showed his true potential when injuries to Allen and Williams led to extended playing time.

In 12 games, Johnson amassed 20 receptions for 398 yards (19.9 yards per reception) and three touchdowns, with zero drops. Four of his first five receptions in the NFL went for 50 yards or more.

In 2021, Johnson has the opportunity to become one of quarterback Justin Herbert’s go-to targets because of how well he does in the intermediate and deep parts of the field, and he should reap the rewards due to his speed and hands.

RB Austin Ekeler

Ekeler has proven himself as one of the league’s best do-it-all running backs, but he still isn’t talked about as much compared to others at his position.

Asserting himself as a key piece in the offense with his multi-dimensional skillset, Ekeler has totaled 1,901 yards on the ground and 2,079 receiving yards as well as 25 touchdowns in four seasons.

With a competent offensive line and an offensive coordinator in Lombardi, who has historically gotten his running backs involved in the passing game more than almost any other team, Ekeler could be in for a career season.

“I know that Ekeler has some of the skill sets that I’m used to seeing in New Orleans with whether it was Reggie (Bush) or Darren Sproles or AK (Alvin Kamara),” Lombardi said.