The 2023 offseason is underway, but let's take a quick look back at the 2022 season.
We got a few of the Chargers' beat writers together to discuss which Bolts player saw the most improvement this past year.
Here's what Jeff Miller (Los Angeles Times), Joe Reedy (Associated Press), Elliott Teaford (Orange County Register), Daniel Popper (The Athletic) and Eric Smith (Chargers.com) had to say:
Who was the Chargers most improved player in 2022?
Miller: Michael Davis would be a good choice here. Same with Alohi Gilman, who really proved he belongs in the NFL over the final 5-6 weeks of the regular season. But I have to go with Trey Pipkins III, whose toughness and durability were on full display as he battled a knee sprain for much of the season. It's easy to forget that in training camp Pipkins was splitting first-team reps with Storm Norton. Seems almost impossible now. The Chargers drafted Pipkins as a project in 2019, and his commitment eventually paid off. He deserves to be recognized for all the work he put in - especially last offseason - to reach this point.
Teaford: I can think of two right off. First, there's linebacker Drue Tranquill, who continued to amaze by being in the center of everything constantly. He led the Chargers in tackles and had five sacks. Second, wide Joshua Palmer was a huge factor in the Chargers' ability to stay above water while Keenan Allen and Mike Williams were out with injuries. Palmer had to become a go-to target for Justin Herbert and he did well in that role. I always look for the difference-makers when I get asked questions like this, and Tranquill and Palmer were difference makers this past season.
Reedy: Without a doubt, Trey Pipkins III. He struggled a lot during his first three seasons in the league and also did not do well in two starts last season. This year he was solid and there were few times when he did something wrong or was out of position. Add to it that he played most of the season with a knee injury and he definitely showed that he could play in the league.
Popper: This is a difficult question because so many players stepped up and improved amid the injuries this season. Cornerback Michael Davis is a consideration. Linebacker Drue Tranquill, safety Alohi Gilman, running back Joshua Kelley and defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko also deserve shoutouts. But I will have to go with right tackle Trey Pipkins III, who proved this year that he is a very capable NFL tackle. He played at a high level all year despite battling through an MCL sprain he first suffered in Week 5. The work Pipkins put in last offseason in Dallas really showed. So did his toughness.
Smith: I'm going with Gilman, although all of the above choices are legit. The third-year safety wasn't a full-time starter in 2022 with six starts, but made the most of his chances when he did get on the field. His lone interception on the year — against Cleveland in Week 5 — was a game-saving play near the end zone in the fourth quarter. He made other big plays, too, most of them down the stretch to help the Bolts get into the playoffs … all while drawing praise from teammates and coaches about his leadership and steady play. Gilman got the starting nod in the Wild Card round over Nasir Adderley, who is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason. We'll see what the Chargers do at that position in the coming months, but it's assuring knowing that Gilman will be in the mix in some form in 2023.
Bolt Up for 2023!
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