As a whole, the Chargers defense should be much improved under Brandon Staley after watching him turn the Rams’ unit into the league’s best just one year ago in his first season as an NFL defensive coordinator.
One of the biggest keys to the defense’s success was their secondary. It was a group that had one big star (Jalen Ramsey) and then a bunch of lesser-known players. However, it was arguably the best-communicating group in the entire league. This is something ESPN analyst Louis Riddick brought up on more than one occasion during the season and also something Staley has noted once or twice since taking over the Chargers job. It’s an incredibly important part of locking down the back end and of course will be something he strives to implement now that he’s with the Bolts.
A member of the secondary that struggled in his first real season as a starter was Nasir Adderley. The former FCS All-American was drafted in the second round two years ago with fairly high expectations as a rangy ball-hawk and got off to a rough start in the NFL after missing almost all of his rookie season due to a linger hamstring issue.
In Staley’s defense, Adderley won’t be forced to play single high nearly as often and won’t get caught being the last line of defense over and over again. The Bolts will run mostly two-high looks meaning Nas will have much less ground to worry about. Due to these defensive changes, Adderley has been a popular pick among the Chargers as a player who could be in line for a big breakout season.
That’s why CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan picked Nas as an under-the-radar player for the Chargers who could become a star in 2021.
“With former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley coming in as the Chargers new head coach, naturally, we’ll be looking at that side of the ball for any breakout candidates,” says Sullivan. “That brings us to safety Nasir Adderley, who’ll be entering his third season in the NFL in 2021. His rookie season was hampered by injuries and then struggled in 2020 under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. As he moves into Year 3, however, there is hope that he can turn things around with Staley leading the way. The head coach has already talked about possibly using Adderley’s athletic ability and versatility to the club’s advantage by possibly moving him down in the box or potentially being used as a moneybacker at times. If Staley can push the right buttons, it could unlock a dangerous defensive weapon in Adderley.
Staley has certainly mentioned Nas’ versatility a number of a time and the aforementioned plans to move him around the defense to maximize his skillset. But, I’m curious to see how much that actually happens when the team already has a player like Derwin James. Of course, having two players who succeed in a variety of alignments is a good thing and certainly something the team should strive to have. It only took one game to see James’ ability as a deep safety (see the pass breakup against Tyreek Hill in week one of 2018) and I’m sure we’ll see more of that in 2021 as long as Nas can hold up in the box and around the line of scrimmage.