by Omar Navarro & Eric Smith
Welcome to Part 3 of our 2022 positional recaps, a series that will run through the next few weeks and highlight all 10 Chargers position groups. We'll focus on key stats, big moments and look ahead to the 2023 season.
The Chargers tight end room proved to be key in a season that saw many receiving threats go out with injuries.
Led by Gerald Everett, who was an offseason addition last spring, this position group gave the Bolts a much-needed boost throughout the year.
"I want to do better than I did last year," Everett said during training camp. "I think that should be a key component as you progress in this league, really with anything in life.
"You should try to eclipse yourself in the previous year and previous term," Everett added. "I want to show that I'm more of a complete player than last year."
Everett did just that in Year 1 with the Chargers.
Coming off a career year in 2021, Everett went a step further in 2022, setting personal bests in nearly every statistical category. He had career highs in receptions (58) and receiving yards (555) while tying his career best with four scores.
With wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams missing time, Everett was a reliable target in the passing game. His chemistry with quarterback Justin Herbert was apparent during training camp and carried into the regular season.
"Gerald is making plays for us. He can separate. He can make yards after contact. He can create with the ball in his hands," Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said after Week 7. "We have to continue to make sure that he touches the ball. I'm glad that we have him."
Fellow tight end Donald Parham, Jr., was another integral part of the tight end room as he showed resiliency through a trying season. He battled both hamstring and concussion issues in recent months.
Parham played in six games during the regular season but closed the season strong with a Week 17 touchdown catch and strong blocking performances in the run game.
"A tremendous story of perseverance, of will, inside of a player," Staley said of Parham following his Week 17 touchdown. "Football has tested his patience.
"Everyone on the sideline, you could see it, the way that his teammates feel about him, his coaches feel about him," Staley later added.
Tre' McKitty, who stepped in while Parham was out, played in all 17 games and more than doubled his snap count from last season. Veteran Richard Rodgers played in 10 games for the Bolts before being placed on Injured Reserve prior to Week 14. Finally, rookie Stone Smartt saw his first NFL action in Week 11 and played in seven games.
One of Everett's best abilities this season came from what he could do with the ball in his hands. According to TruMedia, 326 of his 555 yards came after the catch - the eighth-most among all tight ends.
Perhaps the most memorable moment from the tight end group was one of the more thrilling plays of the entire season.
In Week 11 against the Cardinals, the Chargers got the ball back down seven points before scoring a touchdown with 18 seconds left.
Overtime seemed to be on the horizon ... until it wasn't.
In what was one of the gutsiest calls of the season for the Chargers, they elected to go for two points and the win.
This set up a perfectly executed 2-point play, as Herbert found Everett wide open for the conversion.
"Some guys shy away from those moments, but my number was called, and I wanted the ball," Everett said after the game. "The team knows no one wanted it more than me. I gave Justin that look, and we knew."
The catch by Everett would give the Bolts a much-needed win on the road as they eventually made the postseason.
Caught 58 passes for 555 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Played in 16 games and a career-high 667 offensive snaps (55.96 percent) during his first season with the Chargers.
Donald Parham, Jr.
Caught 10 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown in six games. He also played 144 offensive snaps (12.08 percent).
Caught 10 passes for 72 yards and played in all 17 games. He played a career-high 541 offensive snaps (45.39 percent).
Caught one pass for four yards and played in 10 games. He played 96 offensive snaps (8.05 percent)
Caught four passes for 17 yards and played in seven games. He played 74 snaps (6.21 percent) in his rookie season.
2 questions for 2023
1. Is tight end an option in the draft?
At this point in the offseason, all positions are on the table for the Chargers and the seven total draft picks they currently have.
Adding a flashy young tight end to pair with Herbert certainly makes sense on a few levels, including the fact he could help stretch the field vertically and ignite more explosive plays.
A handful of tight ends, including Notre Dame's Michael Mayer and Utah's Dalton Kincaid - have already been mocked to the Chargers, meaning well-known draft analysts see the possible fit.
But we'll have to see how free agency and the roster both shake out in the coming months before we actually get to late April.
2. What does Everett have in store in Year 2 with the Bolts?
Everett was among a handful of free-agent additions a season ago. And while he didn't get the fanfare that other players did, he was a key part of the Chargers offense in 2022.
Now, with an offensive coordinator search ongoing, Everett could be a name to watch to have an even bigger season in 2023.
He showed flashes of being a top-tier tight end, especially in the postseason, but will need a consistent season in order to make that happen.
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