Chargers top 5 breakout season players in 2021: S Nasir Adderley

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Every season, there are players who break out onto the scene who may not have been dominant the season before, whether they had limited snaps, dealt with an injury or just improved as a player in the offseason.

This is the first story in a five-part series counting down the top Chargers players who I believe are most likely to have a breakout season in 2021.

Part 1: WR Tyron Johnson

Part 2: DT Jerry Tillery

Part 3: EDGE Uchenna Nwosu

The Chargers drafted Nasir Adderley in the second-round of the 2019 NFL draft out of Delaware with the hopes of pairing him with Derwin James to create a dynamic safety tandem.

Unfortunately, Adderley’s rookie season was short-lived as a hamstring injury kept him out for the majority of the season. After being fully recovered last season, while he showed some flashes in spurts, he was inconsistent in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system.

Adderley allowed 14 catches on 18 targets (77.8%), four of which went for touchdowns, and missed 12 tackles in 2020.

Heading into Year 3, Adderley is in prime position to turn things around, as he will be playing under head coach Brandon Staley, who has had plenty of success at maximizing his defensive player’s potential. Staley has full faith in Adderley, despite his struggles.

“He’s our type of safety,” Staley said. “He can see in the deep part of the field. He’s smooth. He’s got a lot of DB traits for us. We really think that he’s a smooth athlete. We think he’s going to be a good fit for how we want to play.”

Instead of relegating Adderley to the free safety position, Staley believes that he will be able to make full use of him by utilizing his versatility, where he can be flexed in the slot (Star) and fill a sub-package safety-linebacker hybrid role (Money).

While he has the athleticism and range to play in the deeper parts of the field, Adderley’s instincts, short area quickness and ball skills could go a long way closer to the line of scrimmage.

If everything clicks, Adderley will be an integral part of the backend of the defense.