In part due to the Los Angeles Chargers' 5-11 record last season, several positive developments went largely unnoticed outside of Southern California. One of those, the emergence of fourth-round pick Drue Tranquill late in the year, could have a significant impact on how the defense performs in the coming years.
This week, Pro Football Focus published an article detailing the most underrated player on each of the 32 teams in the NFL. Though the Chargers had several candidates, PFF highlighted Tranquill as a player with significant upside capable of taking on a larger role in 2020.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: LB DRUE TRANQUILL
Athleticism like Tranquill displayed at the 2019 NFL Combine (4.57 second 40-yard dash, 6.94 second three-cone and a 37.5-inch vertical jump) married with strong coverage results coming out of college (80-plus coverage grades in each of his last two seasons) is a recipe for success in the pros. As a fourth-round pick, Tranquill had a limited role in his first season as a member of the Chargers' defense, but he did some promising things during his time on the field, earning a 66.6 overall grade for the year. Even with the Chargers trading back up into the first round to take Kenneth Murray, there is plenty of reason to expect the second-year player out of Notre Dame to take another step forward in 2020.
The Chargers will likely feature veteran Denzel Perryman as the middle linebacker in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's base defense. However, given Tranquill's athleticism and ability to cover space, he should eat into that workload as the season unfolds. At some point, Tranquill could even take over the job altogether, leaving new teammates Kenneth Murray and Nick Vigil to handle the other starting linebacker roles.