September 13th, 2020 at 7:35pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Chargers escaped with a narrow victory over the Bengals in Week 1, but they didn’t make it out unscathed. Linebacker Drue Tranquill was carted off with an ankle injury, and the initial belief is he broke his ankle, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
Assuming that’s the case, then his season is likely over. It’s a tough break for the young Notre Dame product, who was drafted in the fourth-round last year. He started three games while appearing in 15 and playing around 40 percent of the defensive snaps. He was ticketed for an even bigger role this time around, which makes this a devastating blow.
The Chargers’ defense is loaded with talent on the defensive line and in the secondary, but linebacking is the one question mark. Guys like Kyzir White and first-round rookie Kenneth Murray will be even more important now.
The unit played well and mostly held Joe Burrow in check Sunday, but this isn’t the first significant injury to the defense. All-Pro safety Derwin James, of course, was just lost for the season with a knee injury. Another year, another crop of health issues for the Chargers…
Tranquill has the best shot of establishing a role with the Chargers in 2019. While Los Angeles did add free agent Thomas Davis, the team is only rostering 11 linebackers at the moment (not including undrafted rookies). Plus, Tranquill previously played safety in college, and defensive coordinator GusBradley will surely look for creative ways to capitalize on the rookie’s versatility. The Notre Dame product finished the 2018 season having compiled 86 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Egbuleshould also have a chance to rise up the linebackers depth chart. At the very least, the sixth-rounder out of Houston should contribute on special teams, and his speed will put him in position for plenty of tackles. Egbule wrapped up his collegiate career with 69 tackles and two sacks.
Stick is another intriguing prospect, but mostly because of his position. PhilipRivers and TyrodTaylor will start the season atop the Chargers’ depth chart, but Stick will have an opportunity to compete with CardaleJones for that third spot. Last season, Stick completed a career-high 62.3-percent of his passes for 2,752 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also added another 677 rushing yards.
Following today’s moves, the Chargers still have three unsigned draft picks: first-round defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, second-round safety Nasir Adderley, and third-round offensive tackle Trey Pipkins.
The latest 2019 draft pick signings from around the AFC:
The Jets agreed to terms with two more rookies, signing fifth round linebacker Blake Cashman and sixth round cornerback Blessaun Austin. Cashman had 104 tackles at Minnesota last year, including 15 for a loss. He earned a second-team All-Big Ten selection for his work last year. Only third overall pick Quinnen Williams and third-rounders Jachai Polite and Chuma Edoga remain unsigned for New York.
The Chargers inked two more players to their rookie deals, signing fifth round quarterback Easton Stick and fourth round linebacker Drue Tranquill. Stick, a North Dakota State product, was highly productive as a runner in college and many analysts projected a potential position change in the pros. That being said, the Chargers have said they plan on keeping Stick at quarterback. Tranquill is now wrapped up, and the Chargers can hopefully get his Notre Dame teammate, Jerry Tillery, signed soon. Most of the Chargers’ draft class remains unsigned as they just inked their first player earlier today.
The Bengals signed a crop of five players, representing half of their class. They wrapped up fourth-rounders Renell Wren and Michael Jordan, sixth round running backs Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson, and seventh round cornerback Jordan Brown. Jordan, a Miami product, has some potential upside and could help replenish Cincinnati’s secondary. Williams, from Texas A&M, and Anderson, from Oklahoma, will be battling it out for a role behind Joe Mixon in the Bengals’ backfield. Anderson used to be seen as one of the nation’s top running backs, but injuries have derailed his career. This draft class will always be a monumental one for the Bengals, as it represents the first year of the post-Marvin Lewis era.