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ESPN ranks the Chargers roster as the 3rd-best in the NFL

Can expectations be any higher for the Chargers this season?

NFL: Pro Bowl-AFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 offseason plan really seems to be paying thus far for the Chargers.

Until the regular season actually arrives, you’re likely not anywhere close to hearing the end of the hype for this Chargers team, but that’s okay with me and I’m sure the feeling isn’t all that different for all of you.

In a recent set of rankings over at ESPN, the group behind Football Outsiders put together their list of the best overall rosters in the NFL. The list is lengthy and includes a top-to-bottom ranking of all 32 franchises based on where they stand at this time of the offseason.

The Chargers, after all they’ve done to take necessary strides, landed at number three.

Each team has their biggest strength, weakness, and X factor highlighted by F.O.’s group of analysts so we’re just going to dive right in and take a look at what they had to say about the Bolts:

The Chargers’ biggest strength

There are several areas that could be viewed as the team’s biggest strength but F.O. decided on the elite pass-rushing duo of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. Mack is far-and-away the best pass-rushing partner Bosa has had the chance to play across from so expectations couldn’t be any higher.

“Injuries have slowed Khalil Mack over the past few years, but a healthy Mack is still one of the best all-around edge defenders in the NFL. Despite missing more than half of the 2021 season, Mack still ranks third among edge defenders in PFF’s WAR metric since 2019. One of the two players ahead of him is Joey Bosa, whose 22% pass rush win rate since 2016 ranks first among qualifiers at the position. Assuming a 31-year-old Mack comes back somewhere close to full strength, he and Bosa represent the best edge tandem in the league.”

The Chargers’ biggest weakness

I wish the team could finally get to a point where this section isn’t exactly what you’d expect it to be. For the nth time, the Chargers’ situation at right tackle has been named their most bothersome area of the roster.

“The Chargers have done a very good job of rebuilding their offensive line over the past two offseasons. Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler and Corey Linsley were all top-six graded players at their respective positions in 2021 — all in their first season with the team. The right tackle spot is where a lot of uncertainty still remains, though. Storm Norton manned that position last season with a 44.7 PFF pass-blocking grade, and he was targeted by Maxx Crosby and the Raiders in a pivotal Week 18 matchup. Trey Pipkins III (68.5 PFF grade in 173 snaps last year) will push him for that job this offseason.”

Here’s to hoping we are no longer hearing about this issue by this time next offseason.

(Come on Trey Pipkins!)

The Chargers’ X factor for 2022

Lastly, Sebastian Joseph-Day was named the team’s X factor heading into this upcoming season. As one of the league’s best young run defenders, he’s being held as the savior to a run defense that hung out in the basement of the NFL for the majority of the 2021 campaign. He played a major role of the Rams’ top-ranked defense in 2020 and Brandon Staley will be expecting the same level of impact in his first year with the Bolts.

“Sebastian Joseph-Day was brought in for one reason — to improve a run defense that ranked 27th in the league in expected points allowed per run play last season. Joseph-Day was an unheralded part of the Rams’ top-three run defense in 2020, ranking second among all interior defensive linemen in run stops (30). He’ll be asked to play a similar role for the Chargers on a defense in need of a run-stuffing presence.”