Los Angeles Chargers Edge Rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram

Los Angeles Chargers Positional Outlook: EDGE

  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • 2021 nfl free agency
  • AFC
  • afc west
  • Bolts
  • Brandon Staley
  • Chargers
  • DE
  • Defensive End
  • Defensive Ends
  • ED
  • Edge
  • Edge Rushers
  • Elerson Smith
  • Emeke Egbule
  • Free Agency
  • Gregory Rousseau
  • Jeremiah Attoachu
  • JJ Watt
  • Joey Bosa
  • Jordan Smith
  • Justin Houston
  • Kenneth Murray
  • kyzir white
  • LA Chargers
  • Leonard Floyd
  • los angeles chargers
  • Melvin Ingram
  • NFL
  • NFl Draft
  • nfl free agency
  • NFL Offseason
  • Offseason
  • OLB
  • Outside Linebacker
  • Outside Linebackers
  • Uchenna Nwosu
By Zac Alfers February 24, 2021 0 Comment
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The Los Angeles Chargers positional outlook on the EDGE is very bright despite underachieving as a unit last season. L.A. will transition to a 3-4 defense in 2021 under first-year head coach Brandon Staley and many players will benefit from the new scheme. The Bolts have plenty of talent on their defense already, but the personnel group could use some re-tuning this offseason. The shift upfront favors outside linebackers with pass-rushing abilities. Adding a few players that fit this mold would help the whole team succeed.

First, let’s take a look at how the team’s pass rushers fared last season.

2020 Performance

Considered a major strength of the team in years past, the unit’s play was extremely disappointing in 2020. The Bolts ranked in the bottom half of the league in most relevant pass-rushing statistics. Here are those numbers and how they stack up with the rest of the league.

  • 27 sacks, 25th in the NFL
  • 55 tackle for loss, 25th in the NFL
  • 85 QB hits, 18th in the NFL

Last season, the Powder Blue posted a 42% pass rush win rate, the 15th-lowest mark. PRWR is ESPN’s new metric that shows how often a pass-rusher beats their block within 2.5 seconds. These numbers are extra embarrassing when you consider Joey Bosa’s personal PRWR (25%) is tied for the fourth-best mark amongst individual edge defenders last season. Big Bear is an absolute beast. Still, the Chargers need to give him some help if they hope to unlock his full potential.

Returners 

The heart and soul of the Chargers defense, Bosa returns after signing a five-year, $135 million extension in July. Kyzir White is the lone OLB currently listed on the roster and will most likely see more playing time in the new system. White was on a tear last season before suffering a season-ending injury. Still, the hybrid defender finished as the team’s third-best tackler with 77 combined. Uchenna Nwosu is ready to prove he can be a mainstay in the rotation after primarily serving as a backup. Kenneth Murray has the potential to be a game-wreaker on the edge, but Staley has stated he sees Murray as an off-ball linebacker. It will be interesting to see where he gets the majority of his snaps. Rounding out the group, Emeke Egbule has the skillset to be used at each OLB position but will have a relatively small role.

In-House Free Agents

Melvin Ingram is a free agent and the debate on whether or not to bring him back is a tough one. Personally, I’m a huge fan and during his prime, Ingram and Bosa formed one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league. An Ingram departure would also leave a huge hole on the roster at a position of value. If it was up to me, I’d have to make the tough decision to part ways with the former South Carolina product.

However, there are other areas of need (OT, IOL, DB) that take precedence over the EDGE position. Ingram’s numbers have been slowly decreasing recently and with his injury concerns, I don’t know how you can justify giving him the contract he is likely to command on the open market. I appreciate everything Ingram has done for the franchise, but I think he has priced himself out of L.A.

Options/Outcomes 

Overall, the Chargers positional outlook on the EDGE is very bright. Bosa has established himself as one of the premier pass-rushers in the game since the Bolts drafted him in 2016. What’s really crazy is that at 25-years-young, the three-time Pro Bowler has A LOT of football left in front of him. The young supporting cast of White, Nwosu, Murray, and Egbule surrounding Bosa is solid but the team still needs a starting SAM. White and Murray have the capabilities to lock down that spot, but I doubt they log all of their snaps there. With their unique skillsets, Staley will line them up all over the field to put them in the best scenarios to make plays, not necessarily on the edge. Nwosu and Egbule compliment the group well and will be nice pieces to keep the pass-rush rotation fresh.

Free Agents to Target 

The free-agent class of EDGE defenders is loaded and includes five guys who ranked top-10 in sacks last season. Some household names who have been linked to the Chargers are J.J. Watt and Justin Houston. If either one landed in L.A. it might be good for jersey and ticket sales, but I don’t see much value outside of that. Both have enough left in the tank to produce next season but it’s their age that is worrisome. Watt is 31 while Houston is 32 and it’s just not realistic to expect either to regain their All-Pro form.

A more legitimate option would be to bring Jeremiah Attaochu back to the franchise that drafted him in 2014. Following an up-and-down start to his career, Attaochu has proven himself as a quality backup edge rusher playing with the Denver Broncos the past two seasons. It should also be noted that’s Attaochu’s resurgence occurred under the leadership of outside linebacker coach Brandon Staley. This signing makes sense for the team as a cheap, rotational piece.

If the Chargers front office plans to spend SERIOUS money on a defender this free agency, LA Rams OLB Leonard Floyd should be the guy they give it to. Pairing Floyd with Bosa would be a deadly combination with the potential to be the best in the league. Floyd is already familiar with Staley’s system following a breakout season in 2020 with 55 total tackles, 11 TFLs, and 10.5 sacks. Addressing pass-rusher through free agency frees up the team’s draft picks to help fill out the rest of the roster.

Draft Prospects

There are plenty of intriguing EDGE prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami product Gregory Rousseau is one of the most explosive pass-rushers in the class. Many mock drafts have him going to the Chargers in the first round. Rousseau has the ability to be a foundational edge rusher in the NFL no question. However, the team has more pressing needs which I’d rather the team address with that high of a pick.

The offensive line is in disarray and needs plenty of attention. If the top tackles are off the board at 13, then the team should go with the top CB. The value is just better with that high of a pick, in my opinion. The Bolts shouldn’t even consider drafting an EDGE player to at least the fourth. MAYBE the third if a top talent falls. UAB OLB Jordan Smith would be a steal in the fourth if he remains on the board. If the Chargers want to wait to the later rounds, Northern Iowa DE Elerson Smith would be a solid pick.

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I cover the Chargers for Chargers Brawl. I'm a huge SD sports fan (Bolts, Padres, Aztecs) I also follow the Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks.

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