The Los Angeles Chargers have made headlines over the past few days. Both NFL executives and the mainstream media have boasted about the Chargers talented roster.
However, the organization needs to make one more splash in free agency to become a true threat in the AFC. Former Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins could put the Chargers defense over the top.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway believes Los Angeles is the team to beat in the vaunted AFC West. While radio personality Colin Cowherd listed the Chargers as the team with the second best roster in all of football.
1. Eagles— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 15, 2018
5. Steelers@ColinCowherd ranks the Top 10 rosters in the NFL pic.twitter.com/4u51852ThZ
Now, those claims may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but people are starting to take note of the Chargers. The vision of head coach Anthony Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco has caught the attention of the football world.
Los Angeles was praised for the selection of Derwin James in the first round and their heavy focus on defense for the following three selections. An offense led by Philip Rivers will always have support behind it as well.
The Chargers boast a talented defense, which allowed just 17 points per game, the third best mark in the league. A terrifying pass rush headlined by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and a secondary which allowed just 197.2 passing yards per game.
The offensive side of the ball is just as intimidating. Rivers led a terrific passing attack that led the league in yards per game (276.9). Much of that success can be credited to an improved offensive line that allowed a league-low of 18 sacks. A healthy Keenan Allen and his 102 receptions helped out too.
Even with the praise and the clear strengths Los Angeles can hang their hat on, the team has glaring holes. The linebacker unit is paper thin. Denzel Perryman is a force to be reckoned with, but he only suited up in seven games in 2017. Rookies Kyzir White and Uchenna Nwosu are much needed reinforcements, but relying on a pair of rookies to fix a unit that struggled in both the run and pass isn’t ideal for a potential playoff team.
The defensive line was also a major problem. Even with Bosa and Ingram, the interior linemen struggled to impose their will in the run game. The group allowed over 130 rushing yards per contest and outside of third-round pick Justin Jones, the Charges have ignored the issue.
Enter Johnathan Hankins. The veteran defensive tackle would slide into the Chargers defensive front seamlessly. Hankins accumulated 44 combined tackles and one sack last season and was one of the bright spots in a lackluster Colts defense.
Hankins could take the bulk of the snaps on the inside allowing the Chargers to have a strong rotation of lineman alike the elite defenses around the league. Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia are successful up front by bringing multiple looks and rotating players in-and-out constantly.
A starting defensive line of Bosa, Ingram, Hankins, and Brandon Mebane is stellar. However, throwing Darius Philon, Jones, Damion Square, and Corey Liuget into the mix as subs would do wonders.
The aforementioned names showed plenty of flashes in 2017, but it was clear they aren’t starter level options. As depth, they would be fresh and able to do more damage against run down offensive lineman.
No longer would Gus Bradley have to stay up at night worrying about how to stop the run. Los Angeles has one of, if not, the best secondary in football. The addition of a legitimate defensive tackle will take the pressure off of a vulnerable linebacking corps.
Los Angeles’ offense is fine. Rivers has the weapons and if the offensive line can stay healthy, the Chargers will put up plenty of points.
Defensively, the Chargers should also be solid. The secondary is among the best in the league and Bosa and Ingram cause problems every week.
Still, the Chargers need to take a few more steps to become an elite defense. Hankins could be the difference. The run defense would improve drastically and allow for the strengths of the Los Angeles defense to shine.
In the money department, Hankins is a realistic target. Los Angeles has no reason to dish out money to Tre Boston any longer and with over $11 million in cap room according to overthecap.com, there is potential to come to terms.
Hankins may cost a pretty penny, but he would be the perfect addition to a Chargers team on the verge of contention in the AFC.