Breaking down the Chargers’ undrafted free agent signings

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Following their eight selections in the 2022 NFL draft, the Chargers signed 14 undrafted free agents.

Here’s the full list followed by a quick breakdown for each player.

QB Brandon Peters, Illinois

Peters is a sixth-year senior who began his career at Michigan as a four-star recruit. Injuries took their toll and resulted in a transfer to Illinois, where he started for three seasons. In 2021, he went 91 of 169 for 1,170 yards, 7 TDs, and 4 interceptions in nine games played. Peters has an above-average arm that he’s willing to take chances with, but he’s an early bailer from the pocket when the rush threatens to get near.

RB Kevin Marks Jr., Buffalo

Marks was long the complementary back to Commanders RB Jaret Patterson at Buffalo. 2021 was his lone season as a starter, with 414 yards and 5 TDs on 108 carries in 9 games to his name. While his testing numbers are average across the board, he does have the straight-line speed and quick feet to keep defenders honest. Marks is a back who’s always looking to hit a home run, and his development will center around teaching him that singles and doubles are worth just as much.

RB Leddie Brown, West Virginia

A former four-star recruit, Brown made 2020’s All-Big 12 first team after a 1,010-yard season. He followed that up with 1,065 in 2021, becoming just the 12th Mountaineer to log back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. What relegated him to the ranks of the undrafted is a lack of speed – his 4.64 40 is in just the 42nd percentile for running backs. Brown is a throwback rusher who lacks dynamism but will drag tacklers for miles before finally hitting the dirt. He’s also a potential fullback convert if he can show value on special teams.

WR Trevon Bradford, Oregon State

With 151 career receptions for 1,904 yards and 14 TDs as well as 26 kick returns for 263 yards, the 5’9” Bradford joins the Bolts as a potential developmental slot receiver and kickoff return specialist. He lacks the size to win outside on a consistent basis but possesses sturdy hands and build-up speed that makes him more of a deep threat than his pedestrian 4.52 40 would suggest. He’s also one of the better ball trackers down the field from this draft class.

TE Stone Smartt, Old Dominion

One of the best names in this year’s class, Smartt started his career as a quarterback, first at Riverside City College and then in 2019 at Old Dominion. When the Monarchs’ season was canceled in 2020, Smartt used the opportunity to move to wide receiver, logging 17 receptions for 167 yards in 2021. Now, the 6’4”, 226 pound Smartt will move to tight end, where his 4.62 40, 4.19 shuttle, and 40” vertical provide some optimism about his developmental potential.

TE Erik Krommenhoek, USC

Krommenhoek had 39 career receptions for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns across 23 games. This type of production usage should clue you in to the fact that he’s spent most of his career as a blocker. He’s more than eager to engage in that phase of the game, whether it be stacking defensive linemen or climbing to the second level to decleat linebackers. He’s a stiff route runner who’s still working on finding the soft spots in zones the way that successful NFL TEs with similar athletic profiles are able to. There’s room for his frame to add more muscle, which could up his power as a blocker a bit.

OT Andrew Trainer, William & Mary

Trainer has walked a winding road to Los Angeles. Originally committed to Virginia as a tight end, the 6’7” Trainer flipped to Illinois when Cavaliers coach Mike London was fired. The Illini shifted him to offensive tackle and he chose to transfer to William & Mary, where London was his coach. As a 2021 All-CAA selection at left tackle, it’s fair to call Trainer an FCS standout despite his complete lack of buzz as a prospect. It’s a developmental depth play at tackle for the Chargers.

C Isaac Weaver, Old Dominion

Weaver is a 6’6”, 310-pound lineman who jumped at elite levels but lacks either speed or agility. He’s played every offensive line position except right tackle, but I have him down at center, where his lack of quicks won’t get him exposed as much as it will at other spots. I have some questions about his power, but perhaps those can be remedied with the aid of an NFL strength program. With a prototypical size for the line and plenty of potential to grow, Weaver is an intriguing take for Los Angeles.

EDGE Ty Shelby, UL Monroe

A bit undersized at 6’4”, 249 lbs, Shelby makes up for his stature with speed (98.8th percentile 10-yard split) and power (83rd percentile on the bench). While starting 19 games over 44 appearances, Shelby racked up 146 total tackles, 25 for loss, 12 sacks, and a forced fumble. Shelby has compared his own play to that of Chargers star Joey Bosa, and now he’ll work for an opportunity to learn from the four-time Pro Bowler full-time.

LB Tyreek Maddox-William, Rutgers

A five-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Maddox-Williams started in every game in 2018 and 2019 before being supplanted in the opening lineup for his final two seasons. In 48 career games as a Scarlet Knight, he logged 193 total tackles, 14.5 for loss, 2 sacks, 7 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. He’s an instinctual linebacker with plenty of experience in coverage who struggles to stack and shed blockers due to a lack of functional strength.

CB Brandon Sebastian, Boston College

Despite poor 40 and agility testing, Sebastian’s highlight reel from Boston College is rife with examples of speed adequate enough to shut windows and close on receivers. That closing ability led to 8 interceptions, 4 of which came in 2021, and a whopping 29 pass deflections over 43 games as an Eagle. It’ll be all about reigning in that aggressiveness while maintaining his on-ball production as a pro.

S Raheem Layne, Indiana

Indiana’s 2019 Special Teams Player of the Year, Layne moved from cornerback to safety during spring practice prior to the 2020 season. An injury then wiped out his entire campaign, leaving him with just 12 career games as a safety, all from 2021. With 147 tackles, 1 interception, 7 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles in his 50 career games, Layne was only an average producer. His toughness, willingness to adapt and special teams ability could nonetheless be a path to a roster spot.

S Skyler Thomas, Liberty

Thomas started his career at Washington State, where he had 152 tackles and 6 interceptions over three seasons. He opted out of the 2020 season and then transferred to Liberty, where he had 55 tackles and 2 interceptions in 2021. He’s a versatile defensive back with the ability to play inside or outside at corner as well as his natural position of safety. With a 4.52 40 under his belt, it’s clear Brandon Staley and co. are prioritizing speed on the back end of this Chargers defense.

K James McCourt, Illinois

A three-year starter at kicker, McCourt is the eighth-most accurate kicker in Illinois program history with a career line of 37-for-52. 8 of those makes came from 50+ yards, an Illini program record. He also has the cool under pressure needed from kickers, as evidenced by his game-winner to complete an upset over #6 Wisconsin in 2019. While he may not crack Los Angeles’ opening roster, the Chargers may be keeping McCourt’s number on speed dial in case Dustin Hopkins goes down during the season.