Defensive line lacks impact players, headlines Chargers’ bottom 3 position groups

defensive line lacks impact players, headlines chargers’ bottom 3 position groups

Defensive line lacks impact players, headlines Chargers’ bottom 3 position groups

Last week, I wrote about the three strongest position groups on the Chargers.

Today, we took a look at the three position groups on the other side of the spectrum.

Let’s dive in.

Defensive Interior

Poona Ford, Morgan Fox, Otito Ogbonnia, Scott Matlock, Justin Egboigbe, Jerrod Clark, Christopher Hinton, CJ Okoye, Micheal Mason

The Chargers had a lot of holes on their roster prior to Jim Harbaugh taking over as head coach and one area that I really don’t think got enough love in free agency and the draft given it’s current state is the defensive interior.

Poona Ford was signed this offseason as a veteran presence but is coming off some injuries. Morgan Fox is back but he’s mainly a pass-ruhs specialist. After those two veterans, you’ve got Otitio Ogbonnia who missed most of his rookie season in 2022 with a knee injury, Scott Matlock, a sixth-round rookie from a season ago, and new fourth-round pick Justin Egboigbe from Alabama.

There are no real “names” amongst this group but Harbaugh and Co. went out to make sure they added some usable bodies on cheaper contracts that fit within the team’s current cap situation. Ford is a fine player, just needs to stay healthy in LA. Egboigbe has a good pedigree and could easily work into the starting lineup as a rookie given the lack of depth.

But before they can prove that this unit is better than it looks, it had to land on this list with no bonafide dawgs or well-round impact players amongst them.

Cornerback

Asante Samuel Jr., Kristian Fulton, Ja’Sir Taylor, Deane Leonard, Matt Hankins, Chris Wilcox, Tarheeb Still, Cam Hart, Robert Kennedy, Zamari Walton

The Chargers are taking the shotgun approach to filling out their cornerback room with usable bodies. After letting Michael Davis walk in free agency, the Chargers were left with Asante Samuel Jr. as their only starting-caliber player following the 2023 season. Since March, the team added Kristian Fulton (coming off an injury-riddled season) and a pair of rookies in Tarheeb Still and Cam Hart. Still impressed recently at minicamp and Hart is a guy many felt should have went higher in the draft.

If Fulton can play up to his original second-round selection, this group could have a decent floor, especially if both Ja’Sir Taylor and Deane Leonard take a step forward in year three.

Zamari Walton is an interesting UDFA prospect with 49 starts in college. He has great length at 6’3 but scouting reports described an unwilling tackler in the run game. As it stands, I hope Jesse Minter and his staff can piece together the best room possible with what they got.

Linebacker

Denzel Perryman, Junior Colson, Daiyan Henley, Nick Niemann, Troy Dye, Shane Lee, Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste

Not only does this room lack experience, it also lacks bodies in general. Both Niemann and Dye are expected to be four-core special-teamers. Henley is entering his second season and is expected to take on a larger role on defense. He’ll likely be the first backup in to rest Perryman or Colson but I’d still expect him to play plenty of special teams with his athletic ability.

Shane Lee is the most interesting player amongst all the UDFAs signed by the Chargers this year. He played most of his career at Alabama before finishing at USC. He’s stout and built like a slightly taller Perryman at 6’0 and over 240 pounds. Aside from safety Akeem Dent, I like Lee’s potential at making this roster.

Speaking of, Perryman is back to lead the Chargers linebacker for the second after re-signing with the team that originally drafted him. He’ll likely be paired with Colson who should waltz into a starting role since he just got done calling a very similar defense with the Wolverines over the past few seasons.

I like the athleticism here in this group. It will simply come down to how fast the youngsters progress and acclimate to the professional game.

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