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Are the San Diego Chargers done with their Defensive Line? Should they be?

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While many are picking the San Diego Chargers to go with a defensive lineman with their first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, there's good reason to believe that they won't.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps I'm crazy about Jalen Ramsey, but I've talked myself out of just about every other option for the San Diego Chargers to use the #3 overall draft pick on. If it's not Ramsey, I think the Chargers trade down.

Obviously, #3 is too high to use on any of the Centers in this draft, and every other offensive line spot is already locked up for the 2016 Chargers. So, that pretty much leaves the team with drafting....I don't know.

  • The team has signed a replacement for Patrick Robinson, so they don't need to draft a CB.
  • They've signed a replacement for Eric Weddle, so they probably don't need to draft a FS.
  • They signed a "Nose Tackle", so they likely won't be looking there.
  • They signed a replacement for Malcom Floyd, and re-signed Antonio Gates, so they probably don't need to draft a WR or a TE.

So, what is left?

The idea with this team, and it's old QB and TE, is to win now. With that 1st Round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, they're going to need someone that can contribute right away.

This has led many to point at the other DE spot, opposite Corey Liuget and next to newly-signed Brandon Mebane. Kendall Reyes is no longer with the team, so the Chargers need a replacement there....right?

I don't think so.

Let's look at the snaps

Here are some snap counts for the Chargers last year:

  • Ryan Carrethers: 224
  • Sean Lissemore: 239
  • Darius Philon: 150
  • Corey Liuget: 451
  • Kendall Reyes: 674
  • Ricardo Mathews: 525
  • Damion Square: 163

With Mathews getting more snaps than Carrethers and Lissmore combined, you can make a pretty good assumption that this team doesn't actually play with a lot of Nose Tackle anymore. As a matter of fact.....

  • Melvin Ingram: 989
  • Jerry Attaochu: 688
  • Kyle Emanuel: 306

It's probably safe to assume that the Chargers went with a 2-4 setup (2 defensive linemen, 4 linebackers) up front a lot more than they went with 3 guys up from.

Could that be why their run defense was so terrible? Maybe, but I think that this team is not in such a great need for a third starting defensive lineman that they would use a #3 overall pick on one.

Especially when you consider....

The Trickle-Down Effect

Adding a talented guy like Brandon Mebane to the defensive line makes the unit better as a whole, partially because it creates less of an opportunity for less-talented guys to get on the field.

Lissemore and Carrethers shared that Nose Tackle position last year, when in truth neither probably should've been on the field as anything more than a backup at the position. Mebane taking the starting job likely pushes Lissemore back over to the DE spot, where he was very good in his first year with the Chargers.

I was impressed by the play of Damion Square and Darius Philon last season, albeit in short sample sizes, and think that they make for adequate depth behind Lissemore. Adding a new defensive lineman through the draft removes at least one of them from the lineup and take Lissemore off the field completely.

Understand when I say that's not a bad thing. Upgrading at any position is a good thing, but when you have this high of a draft pick once per decade, you probably shouldn't spend it on a guy that's going to lose snaps every time the team goes into a passing formation.

Or, to put it more clearly, Brandon Mebane is here to take those snaps that Kendall Reyes left on the table. Corey Liuget should be taking the snaps that Ricardo Mathews got last year. Whoever the third starting defensive lineman is on the roster will be on the field for less than half of the overall defensive snaps.

Why not use this chance to upgrade the Strong Safety position, where Jahleel Addae played 733 snaps last season and gave up a lot more big plays than anyone on the defensive line? Especially when the SS position has more of a chance to create turnovers, which masks the lack of depth on this defense, and can help make your scheme more flexible and less predictable?

Although, maybe that Strong Safety is Myles Jack and not Jalen Ramsey at all.