Uchena Nwosu is the epitome of a home-town kid for the Chargers. He was born and raised in Carson, California, playing his high-school ball at Narbonne HS. While at Narbonne, Nwosu won a slew of postseason accolades, including All-Marine League, All-L.A. City Division 1 First Team, and getting the nod to the 2013 Prep Star All-West squad.
He finished his senior year with a whopping 121 tackles, three interceptions, nine pass breakups with a single forced fumble and fumble recovery. He also lettered in basketball.
Nwosu stayed close to home and attended the University of Southern California where he played all four years for the Trojans.
Through his true freshman and sophomore seasons, Uchenna played in 25 total games as a rotational linebacker. After just nine tackles his freshman year, he finished with 31 the following year with 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a pass breakup.
He won an outside linebacker job as a junior, earning the start in all 13 games and setting career-highs in tackles (53), TFLs (7.5), sacks (3), and PBUs (5). As a senior, Nwosu ran the gambit one more time and absolutely stuffed the stat sheet. He finished with 75 total tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, 9.5 sacks, one interception, 14(!) pass breakups, and a recovered a fumble en route to a First-Team All-Pac 12 honor.
His play in those two years as a starter earned him an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and a spot in the NFL’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. While in Indy, he weighted in at 250 pounds and posted a respectable 4.65 in the forty. His 7.05 in the 3-cone is also where you want it for an edge rusher and his 4.27 short shuttle was also above-average for the position.
After being drafted in the second round back in 2018, Nwosu has gone on to record six starts while playing some role in all 32 games, including the two 2018 playoff contests. As a rookie, he finished with 28 tackles, three for a loss, and 3.5 sacks with a pass breakup. This past season, he recorded another pair of sacks to go with 31 total stops and a career-high five tackles-for-loss.
Years with team: 2
“Uchenna Nwosu signed a 4 year, $5,759,577 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $2,268,783 signing bonus, $3,010,582 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $1,439,894. In 2020, Nwosu will earn a base salary of $1,003,598, while carrying a cap hit of $1,570,793 and a dead cap value of $1,134,393.” - Spotrac.com
Nwosu made a career-defining play as a rookie when he stripped Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson during the team’s opening wildcard matchup in 2018. The play sealed the team’s first playoff victory since the 2013 season and helped build a sturdy foundation with which Nwosu can continue to build his career on.
As the backup to Melvin Ingram at the LEO position, Nwosu has 5.5 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss with a pair of pass breakups. His play has been impressive enough as a finesse-specialist that he’s given the Chargers confidence in potentially having Nwosu take over as the starter after the 2020 season should they decide to let Ingram walk in free agency.
There isn’t a ton of bad to go with Nwosu’s game due to his limited snaps but he’s been great for a rotational player. If I want to nitpick, Nwosu played over 100 more snaps on defense in last season compared to 2018 and he finished with roughly half the sacks.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?
Nwosu will make the Chargers initial 53-man roster as a rotational player behind Ingram at the LEO. With the team expecting Ingram to potentially not be with Los Angeles in 2021, the defensive staff may want to see more of the third-year defender out of USC so an increased snap share this season could be expected.