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Chargers post-draft defensive depth chart

With plenty of new faces, expectations for this group will be sky-high.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the defense’s turn today as we take a look at the depth chart following the 2022 NFL draft.

The Chargers added a ton of new faces across the draft and free agency so this side of the ball will look quite different from this time a year ago. The additions are obviously headlined by the pair of All-Pros in Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, but the pickup of Sebastian Joseph-Day should also pay huge dividends for the team’s run defense.

Overall, the Chargers defense should be much improved and I for one cannot wait to see them take the field in week one.

Now let’s go ahead and see how this group turned out following this year’s draft.

Edge Rusher

EDGE1

  • Joey Bosa
  • Emeke Egbule
  • Jamal Davis II

EDGE2

  • Khalil Mack
  • Chris Rumph
  • Ty Shelby

Thoughts: This is a position I felt the Chargers needed to add another body to via free agency or the draft. Their starting duo is ELITE, but past that, you’re left with 2021 fourth-rounder Rumph and then a pair of JAGs (Just A Guy). Egbule is a former off-ball linebacker and Davis hails from the CFL. That’s just not enough in the way of depth for me. Shelby is an interesting signing and may be a front-runner to make the team from the latest crop of UDFAs.

Interior Defender

Nose Tackle

  • Otito Ogbonnia
  • Breiden Fehoko
  • Forrest Merrill

DL1

  • Sebastian Joseph Day
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Joe Gaziano

DL2

  • Austin Johnson
  • Christian Covington
  • Andrew Brown

Thoughts: This group got a surge of talent this offseason and I’m completely here for it. Joseph-Day is a big get while Johnson is a guy who seems to finally be coming into his own as a pro. Bringing back Covington was also a notable move for keeping depth solid. Ogbonnia was good value in the fifth to potentially get your starting nose tackle for the foreseeable future. Fehoko was among the top defensive tackles in run-stop percentage during the 2021 season despite a limited snap count.

Linebacker

LB1

  • Drue Tranquill
  • Nick Niemann
  • Tyreek Maddox-Williams

LB2

  • Kenneth Murray
  • Troy Reeder
  • Amen Ogbongbemiga
  • Damon Lloyd

Thoughts: I really hoped the Chargers would add a body here, but Staley has widely shown he does not value the linebacker spot all that much. Adding Troy Reeder in free agency was a bare minimum move and it helps that he’s familiar with the system. The coaching staff has continued to praise both Niemann and Ogbongbemiga so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them earn more snaps this season. Murray needs to look like a completely different player before the season gets here or else this group will fall off swiftly. Maddox-Williams is an athletic defender with adequate size and a lean, muscular build. He’s got a good chance to make the roster if the Chargers want to keep six linebackers.

Cornerback

CB1

  • J.C. Jackson
  • Tevaughn Campbell
  • Deane Leonard

CB2

  • Asante Samuel Jr.
  • Kemon Hall
  • Brandon Sebastian

CB3

  • Michael Davis
  • Ja’Sir Taylor

Thoughts: I wanted to include a “Nickel” spot in here but based on everything that’s been said by Staley in regards to how the secondary will shake out this year, it seems like quite a few players could spend time in the slot depending on personnel so I don’t think it’d be right to put that label on anyone right now. Jackson/Samuel Jr. would be the main two if I had to name a few. I would prefer another veteran body here since this unit is essentially made up of one second-rounder and a bunch of late day-three picks and undrafted free agents. Yes, Jackson is a ball magnet, but the pedigree behind him and Samuel Jr. is really lacking.

Safety

Strong

  • Derwin James
  • Alohi Gilman
  • Mark Webb
  • Ben DeLuca

Free

  • Nasir Adderley
  • JT Woods
  • Raheem Layne
  • Skyler Thomas

Thoughts: Without James, this unit would be one of, if not, the worst on the roster. Prior to the Woods selection, you had Adderley and then a bunch of mid-level athletes in Gilman, Webb, and DeLuca. All strong safety types that didn’t inspire much confidence in the way coverage. Woods gives them a boost in that area which I think is a bigger deal than many would have thought prior to the pick. If the cornerback group is lacking (which it is), being able to play a third safety over your fourth cornerback is actually a good thing and something this team is likely to do in 2022.