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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Gavino Borquez

Chargers’ 2022 defensive depth chart update, draft strategy

With the free agency frenzy period slowed down and the draft weeks away, now is an excellent time to reset where the Chargers’ depth chart stands and what their strategy at each position could be.

After assessing the offensive side of the ball, I turn my attention to Los Angeles’ defense.

Interior defensive line

Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Jerry Tillery, Christian Covington, Breiden Fehoko, Joe Gaziano, Forrest Merrill, Andrew Brown

After finishing with one of the worst run defenses in the league last season, the Chargers made an effort to improve in that department with the additions of Joseph-Day and Johnson and re-signing Covington. While a liability against the run, Tillery was still the team’s most productive interior pass rusher in 2021. Fehoko, Gaziano, and Merrill made solid contributions in their limited opportunities.

Draft Strategy: Even after the free agency additions, the Chargers could benefit from one or two more players. Georgia’s Jordan Davis or Devonte Wyatt could be targeted in the first round. Beyond that, Tennessee’s Matthew Butler, Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis, Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike, Stanford’s Thomas Booker, Arkansas’ John Ridgeway, and LSU’s Neil Farrell Jr. are some notable fits.

Edge defender

Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chris Rumph II, Emeke Egbule

The Chargers now possess one of the league’s most dynamic pass-rush duos with Bosa and Mack, but their depth behind them leaves a lot to be desired. Even though he flashed at times, Rumph still needs time to develop. Kyler Fackrell, who signed to a one-year deal last offseason, signed with the Raiders.

Draft Strategy: Rather than signing a veteran to fill in as the complement to Rumph, Los Angeles is relying on the draft to find that guy. Had Michigan’s David Ojabo not torn his Achilles during a pre-draft workout, he could’ve been in consideration for the Bolts’ first-round pick. Instead, I believe the team will look to Day 3 with someone like Virginia’s Amare Barno, Western Kentucky’s DeAngelo Malone, Alabama’s Christopher Allen, UAB’s Alex Wright, or Miami’s (Ohio) Dominique Robinson.


Kenneth Murray, Drue Tranquill, Troy Reeder, Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Cole Christiansen, Damon Lloyd

The Chargers’ most productive from last season, Kyzir White, was not re-signed and landed on the Eagles instead. To fill the void left by White, they recently acquired Reeder, who played under Brandon Staley when he was the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2020. Murray returns after some sophomore struggles, which injuries and COVID-19 could’ve factored into them. Tranquill was solid when he was on the field, but he was riddled with injuries. Niemann and Ogbongbemiga were primarily special teamers, but they both made defensive appearances.

Draft Strategy: Los Angeles could look to add someone on Day 3, especially due to injury concerns looming over Murray and Tranquill, and for special teams upside. Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn, Appalachain State’s D’Marco Jackson, Oklahoma State’s Malcolm Rodriguez, Kansas’ Kyron Johnson, and Nebraska’s JoJo Domann are a few who would make sense for the Bolts.

Defensive back

J.C. Jackson, Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr., Tevaughn Campbell, Kemon Hall, Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, Mark Webb, Ben DeLuca

With defensive back play vital in Brandon Staley’s system, Jackson was the Chargers’ top priority in free agency to hail as their No. 1 cornerback. Last season, Samuel proved to be the team’s best corner in just his rookie campaign, but he had two concussions, and will likely be moved inside the slot next season. Davis played well, but nothing to warrant the money he was paid last offseason. As for the safety position, behind James and Adderley, Gilman and Webb both dealt with injuries that kept them out for a great while of time.

Draft Strategy: Even after the addition of Jackson, cornerback should still not be counted out as a possibility when considering how much Staley values them, especially if one of the top prospects like LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. slides. Clemson’s Andrew Booth and Washington’s Trent McDuffie could also be possible options. Beyond that, Tennessee’s Alontae Taylor, Pittsburgh’s Damarri Mathis, Houston’s Damarion Williams, Missouri’s Akayleb Evans, and Penn State’s Tariq Castro-Fields are a few players who would make sense. As for safety, versatility will appeal, making Michigan’s Dax Hill a sneaky possibility in Round 1. Day 3 options include Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook, Iowa’s Dane Belton, Kentucky’s Yusuf Corker and Oregon’s Verone McKinley.

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