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PFF: Chargers Front Seven Just Misses Top Ten

The Chargers front seven performed well above expectations last season. Will that become a trend?

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

As Pro Football Focus continues ranking the position groups for each team, the Los Angeles Chargers front seven landed in the 11th spot in PFF’s recent projections.

This is a pretty optimistic ranking for a team that has had issues defensively the past two seasons. Of course, the defense was strong last season once Joey Bosa arrived, but the defense didn’t garner any national recognition.

Here is what PFF’s Louie Benjamin had to say about the Chargers ranking.

The Chargers found a diamond in the rough in 2016 fifth round pick Jatavis Brown, who finished as the 27th highest graded linebacker. They also have an outstanding pair of edge-rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who finished as the fifth and sixth highest graded players at their position last year (Bosa’s first), respectively. Former first round pick Corey Liuget has had an up-and-down career, but last year posted the worst grade of his career since his rookie year at 49.3. If Liuget can improve from last year, this group could easily be on the rise.

The analysis here is sound. The Chargers boast a young front seven that has a very high ceiling. Joey Bosa and Jatavis Brown both can become leaders for this unit and should continue to ride the wave of their rookie year success.

This unit also has a trio of veterans that are going to be asked to do less in 2017. Corey Liuget is going to be freed up as opponents focus on Bosa on the opposite side. Same goes for veteran nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who played well before going down with an injury mid-way through last season.

The key this season is Melvin Ingram. The defensive line should be in a great spot next season but the linebacking corps could become an issue. Not so much at inside linebacker. Brown, Korey Toomer, and Denzel Perryman all look to be solid options, but the depth chart is paper thin at outside linebacker.

For the outside linebackers to have a successful 2017, Ingram needs to play at his best. Kyle Emanuel is very good against the run, but Ingram appears to be the only reliable pass rusher at the position. There’s a slim chance the Jeremiah Attaochu figures it out, but that doesn’t seem realistic.

With the defensive line and inside linebacker positions looking stout, and a premiere pass rusher in the mix, it’s no wonder why the Chargers front seven looks good on paper.

Like always, the success of this unit depends on health. There’s no debating that this team has the talent of a top-ten front seven. The question remains, will that talent be playing on Sundays?