Los Angeles Chargers: Three Defensive Breakout Candidates

Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Darius Philon (93) looks on before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers are poised to have one of the strongest defensive units in the league. Led by their devastating pass rush, the Chargers will make it hard for teams to beat them through the air.

Along with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram racking up sacks, the Los Angeles secondary, may be the best in football. The Bolts have four legitimate options at corner and first-round pick Derwin James should be a turnover machine at the safety position.

The Chargers defense may be star studded, but there are still a handful of guys that could burst onto the scene in 2018. With talent surrounding them, and a strong defensive staff headlined by coordinator Gus Bradley, some players on the fringe last season may be some of the biggest keys to a successful unit.

Derwin James

For the most part, Chargers fans and NFL pundits loved the James selection. Los Angeles witnessed James fall all the way to them and thankfully general manager Tom Telesco pulled the trigger on the Florida State product.

Right from the get go, James will be a focal point in Bradley’s 4-3 defense. It may be too early to tell if he will be playing in the box, or as the centerfielder similar to the role Tre Boston played last season.

Before Chargers fans know it, James could be all over the field like Eric Weddle was just a few seasons ago. Regardless, the rookie has landed in a tremendous situation with the Bolts.

The secondary features strong cornerback play that should help cover up James’ rookie mistakes and a defensive line that will be forcing quarterbacks to make a ton of rushed throws.

Let’s just admire this highlight tape…

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Darius Philon

Although Bosa and Ingram help the Chargers pass defense, teams avoided them in 2017 by targeting Los Angeles’ 31st ranked run defense. The Bolts gave up 131.1 rushing yards per game last season and was a glaring weakness on a top defense.

If Los Angeles is to clear up their issues running the ball, they may be in the conversation for the best defense in football. The Chargers will look at Darius Philon to make an impact after a strong 2017 campaign.

Philon played in all 16 games last season and was arguably the best interior lineman on the team. However, that isn’t saying much due to the struggles of Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget.

Philon could use the momentum and trust he gained last season and use that to have a career year in 2018. This is a contract year for Philon as well. The former sixth-round pick could earn himself a nice payday if he can be the premiere interior threat for a talented Chargers defense.

Desmond King

In a stacked Chargers secondary, King will have to work for his snaps. King has the versatility to play both safety and corner, but with a loaded depth chart, he will have to make the most of his scattered opportunities.

Thankfully, King did just that in 2017 and should have no problem doing the same this season. As a nickel corner, King proved himself in coverage, and proved a unique weapon as a blitzer as he racked up four sacks.

An often-injured Jason Verrett and not much safety depth, King is on the cusp of getting serious snaps. He may be waiting in the wings in the beginning of 2018, but if he gets his chance, be prepared to witness another star for Los Angeles vaunted defense.

– Ryan Doyle is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media.  He covers the Los Angeles Chargers.  Follow him on Twitter @RDoyle27 


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