The San Diego Chargers are full of intriguing storylines on and off the field in 2015 as NFL training camp draws closer.
Facing uncertainty on where they will play in the not-so-distant future, the Chargers also have a major question mark at quarterback with Philip Rivers unsigned beyond this season. San Diego has plenty to consider as it moves forward with some new additions and key departures.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Bolts used their first pick on running back Melvin Gordon, who they can immediately point to as their featured ball carrier after he put together a prolific career at Wisconsin. This comes on the heels of losing incumbent Ryan Mathews to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. Of more intrigue, however, is the fact that San Diego used its next four picks to bolster the defense. Inside linebacker Denzel Perryman, cornerback Craig Mager, outside linebacker Kyle Emanuel and defensive end Darius Philon round out the 2015 draft class.
These players figure to push for significant roles on a defense that ranked 14th overall and allowed a mediocre 21.8 points per game in 2014. Chargers park will be buzzing with competition, and the defense will be the focal point. Here's a look at how some of the position battles will shape up this summer.
The obvious place to start when looking at the question marks surrounding the Chargers' defense is at inside linebacker. Just two years removed from picking Manti Te'o in the second round, the Bolts' selection of Perryman could signal a lack of confidence in the former Notre Dame star. Donald Butler is coming off the worst season of his professional career in which he looked like a liability at times after a stellar 2013 campaign.
That makes Perryman's position on the depth chart worth watching early on. When he joins this group, it should light a fire under both players. San Diego is hoping Perryman and both veterans could benefit from open competition.
With Eric Weddle holding out, things in the Bolts' secondary got a lot more interesting at the start of OTAs. Mager comes into the mix as a cornerback who can potentially play safety, and he might have to if the Chargers' Most Valuable Defensive Player remains out for any serious length of time.
No matter what, Mager's third-round status and impressive measurables at the NFL combine -- including a 4.44 40-yard dash and 130-inch broad jump -- give him a chance to contribute in some fashion right away But the uncertain status of Weddle and the injury history of Jason Verrett make him a dark horse to contribute as a rotational position player in 2015.
The Chargers did not bring back Dwight Freeney, and Jarret Johnson retired following last season. That leaves the door open for Jerry Attaochu and Melvin Ingram to step up and take the reigns. Philon will come in with few expectations, but plenty of room to showcase whether he belongs in the NFL or on the sidelines.