In this series we take a look at 12 players for the San Diego Chargers who are 25 or younger and who could be considered foundational or impact players.
Player: TE Ladarius Green
The skinny: Selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft by the Chargers out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Green flashed his playmaking ability in 2013. Taking advantage of teams double covering Antonio Gates, Green totaled 17 receptions for 376 yards and three touchdowns, finishing with an impressive 22.1 yards per catch. Green was targeted 28 times and finished with seven catches of 25 yards or more, including a season-high 60-yard reception for a score at Kansas City.
Reason for optimism: San Diego head coach Mike McCoy admitted that the Chargers did not use Green enough in 2013, an acknowledgement that the 23-year-old has just scratched the surface of his vast potential. The humble Green said he’s still learning the nuances of the game from mentor Antonio Gates, so expect that relationship to continue to pay dividends for the Chargers. Quarterback Philip Rivers called Green the fastest player on offense (he ran a 4.53-second, 40-yard time at the NFL scouting combine). Expect the Chargers to find innovative ways to use that speed in the upcoming season.
Reason for concern: At 6-6 and 240 pounds with great body control and soft hands, Green should have been targeted more near the end zone. But Green had just four red zone targets in 2013. That should change in 2014, with Green playing a more prominent role in San Diego’s red zone package. Also a willing blocker in the run game, Green needs to continue to work on that skill set so opposing defenses don’t treat plays with him on the field as obvious passing situations.