If you’re a frequent visitor to Pro Football Focus (PFF), chances are you’ve noticed they’re pretty high on the Bolts.
After five Chargers players were named to PFF’s Top 101 Players of 2018, four Bolts, tied for the second-most among teams in the NFL, were named to their 50 Best Players Entering the 2019 Season list. What’s the difference, you may ask? According to PFF this list denotes “the 50 best players in the game right now.”
So, who are those Chargers?
Find out below.
Desmond King (No. 44)
What PFF says: Like (Ryan) Ramczyk, (Desmond) King entered the NFL with outstanding collegiate production. He earned 85.0-plus coverage grades in each of his last three seasons with Iowa, including a career-high 89.9 coverage grade in 2016.
And we’ve only seen much of the same from King at the NFL level. In his two years with the Bolts, King has earned 85.7-plus overall grades and 86.6-plus coverage grades. Also, his two-year slot coverage grade (92.0) leads all qualifying slot cornerbacks. Now just 24 years old heading into Year 3 in the league, King is well on his way to becoming the NFL’s next great slot cornerback – a position growing in value year after year.
Derwin James (No. 38)
What PFF says: Like (Saquon) Barkley, (Derwin) James only needed one season in the NFL to prove he’s worth a spot on the 2019 PFF50. The do-it-all Chargers safety could do no wrong as a rookie, earning high grades against the run, in coverage and rushing the passer all from an array of pre-snap alignments. His 88.3 overall grade a year ago ranks third among all qualifying rookie Safeties in the PFF era (2006-18), which made him a no-brainer decision for PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2018.
From PFF’s Cam Mellor on James:
“Described as a ‘movable chess piece’ along the defense, James’ ability to line up across the field, and do so efficiently, led to his selection as our Defensive Rookie of the Year as well as his ridiculous statistics in our PFF advanced metrics.”
Keenan Allen (No. 34)
What PFF says: (Keenan) Allen’s two-year receiving grade (91.2) ranks fourth among the 53 NFL wideouts with 150 or more targets since 2017. Only Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones rank ahead of the Chargers phenom. He also ranks third in yards per route run (2.43) and seventh in passer rating when targeted (111.6) among the same group of qualifiers.
From PFF’s Cam Mellor in his WR prototypes article released last week:
“An underrated aspect of Allen’s repertoire, his route-running skills are second to none at this stage of his career. Not only does he have a feel for coverages, but he also has an innate knack for reading when and where to make his breaks based upon the defenders he’s going to face. He’s just as routinely spotted jetting past overwhelmed linebackers as he is finding the soft spots in zone coverage in between defensive backs.”
Casey Hayward (No. 30)
What PFF says: No NFL cornerback has earned a higher coverage grade over the last three seasons than (Casey) Hayward (91.9). Since joining the Bolts in 2016, Hayward has allowed just 125 receptions from 236 targets for 1,782 yards, 80 first downs and nine touchdowns, while he’s also logged 56 forced incompletions —the third-most of any cornerback in that period. Among the 111 cornerbacks targeted 100 or more times since 2016, Hayward ranks third in forced incompletion percentage (23.7%), ninth in passer rating allowed (71.0) and eighth in completion percentage allowed (53.0%).
Take a look at some of the top practice photos as the Bolts take the field for Day 2 of Minicamp.