C.J. Anderson intriguing option as complementary back for Chargers – Los Angeles Chargers Blog


COSTA MESA, Calif. — With this year’s draft complete and free agency essentially over, the Los Angeles Chargers‘ offseason is in full swing at the Hoag Performance Center.

Returning players have moved on to Phase II of the offseason, when coaches can work with players on the field.

The Chargers will host a rookie minicamp from May 11 to May 14 — the first time to get a look at first-round selection safety Derwin James, along with second-rounder Uchenna Nwosu and third-round pick Justin Jones.

Speaking of which, the Chargers already handed out numbers to rookie draft picks. James will wear Tre Boston’s old jersey, No. 33. Nwosu will wear No. 58. Jones picked No. 91.

Fourth-round selection LB Kyzir White will wear No. 44, and center Scott Quessenberry picked Nick Hardwick’s old jersey, No. 61. Sixth-round selection WR Dylan Cantrell will wear No. 84, and seventh-round selection Justin Jackson picked No. 32.

Now, let’s take a look at three questions from this week’s mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: The Chargers drafted Jackson and signed undrafted rookie running back Detrez Johnson out of Western Carolina to compete for a roster spot in the running back room, along with Russell Hansbrough, a holdover from last season.

The Chargers picked up the fifth-year option on Melvin Gordon and the Wisconsin product is viewed as the Bolts’ workhorse runner, with Austin Ekeler the third-down and red zone back.

However, the Chargers would like to find someone to spell Gordon on early downs.

If no one seizes that role during offseason work and in training camp, C.J. Anderson could be a viable option.

An undrafted rookie out of Cal, Anderson topped the 1,000-yard mark for the Denver Broncos last year for the first time in five NFL seasons. However, the Broncos released Anderson three weeks ago in a cost-cutting move.

Denver then selected Oregon running back Royce Freeman in the third round of this year’s draft.

Anderson, 27, would be a scheme fit for the Chargers, and has familiarity with the AFC West because of his time with the Broncos.

However, the Miami Dolphins appear a likely landing spot for Anderson because they tried to sign him as a restricted free agent.

@eric.d.williams: Several fans have asked about Johnathan Hankins as a possibility for the Bolts in free agency.

At 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, Hankins is more of a two-gap, nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme, which is one of the reasons the Indianapolis Colts moved on from the Ohio State product only one year after signing him to a three-year, $27 million deal.

Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is moving Indianapolis to a 4-3 defense that relies more on speed and movement up front, similar to what the Chargers employ. For that reason, I don’t see Hankins as a scheme fit.

Hankins visited the Washington Redskins in free agency, but left without a deal. Washington selected Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne in the first round instead of paying Hankins.

Look, Hankins is a good player, but the fact that the Chargers did not sign a defensive linemen in free agency and waited to select Jones in the third round tells you something about what the organization believes about the production of the defensive line last season.

While Brandon Mebane is 33 years old and the Chargers need to find his eventual replacement, the coaching staff was fine with the Cal product’s performance last season. And they like young players already on the roster in Darius Philon, Damion Square and Isaac Rochell.

The Chargers could revisit the depth chart at the defensive line in the future. I don’t believe Hankins is a viable option right now.

@eric_d_williams: I’ll give you two. Rochell has been a name that has been mentioned by players and the coaching staff as an ascending player.

Selected in the seventh round out of Notre Dame in last year’s draft by the Bolts, Rochell flashed as an interior pass rusher. He has appeared to be in excellent shape during offseason work. Rochell could work into the mix as a regular in the defensive line rotation.

The other player is linebacker Jatavis Brown. The Akron product flashed as a rookie in 2016 but struggled with injuries and the transition to Gus Bradley’s defense last year.

However, Brown is up to 230 pounds and is a player the Chargers are excited about this offseason, with another year in Bradley’s system.

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