So today I flip over to the defensive side of the ball and take a look at how I think the roster will shape up after the final cuts. I also tag on the specialists at the end. So let’s get into it!
Defensive Ends (4)
- Melvin Ingram
- Joey Bosa
- Chris Landrum
- Isaac Rochell
Starting with the defensive ends up front and I feel like this is pretty much set in stone now.
Obviously barring any season ending injuries to either Joey Bosa or Melvin Ingram, they’re going to be the starting ends for the Bolts this fall.
After that come Chris Landrum and Isaac Rochell; the former would have been the third pass rusher last year had injury not allowed Chris McCain to play that role. Obviously McCain is not on the team anymore due to legal troubles but the fact that the team loves Landrum probably had a bearing on the decision too.
Rochell is a player who has seemingly taken a big leap this summer, changing his diet and lifestyle and also taking advantage of extra reps and snaps due to Joey Bosa’s injury. As a result, the former 7th round pick has vaulted up the depth chart and will play a bigger role this year.
A small side note; even though he will most certainly be linebacker, 2nd round pick, Uchenna Nwosu will provide some pass rush in certain situations, something he did frequently at USC.
Interior Defensive Linemen (6)
- Corey Liuget
- Brandon Mebane
- Justin Jones
- Darius Philon
- Damion Square
- Steven Richardson
On the interior defensive line, I can see Brandon Mebane and Darius Philon being the starters due to Corey Liuget’s suspension (injury permitting), with Justin Jones and Damion Square are the primary back ups.
Of course none of this is big news as they are four returning veterans and a 3rd round pick from the past draft.
However, what is news is that I feel that due to Liuget’s suspension, the Chargers will carry a 6th defensive lineman and I believe the guy to profit from that will be the undrafted free agent, Steven Richardson.
Richardson is someone who I felt had a shot at making the roster from the outset. He’s looked raw at times but he’s also flashed and I think he’s shown enough to stick around; Aaron Donald comparisons are always made with shorter defensive linemen nowadays but they definitely don’t hurt either.
- Jatavis Brown
- Kyzir White
- Denzel Perryman
- D’Juan Hines
- Hayes Pullard
- Kyle Emanuel
- Uchenna Nwosu
For me, Denzel Perryman, Kyle Emanuel and Jatavis Brown (just) return, as does Hayes Pullard. Brown hasn’t looked great this pre season and will probably have his starting birth taking my Kyzir White shortly after the season begins, if he hasn’t already.
On the other hand, Hayes Pullard has looked like a player reborn since he came back! It’s great to see from a player who most fans would have cut in a second last year. Hopefully he can maintain his level once the regular season begins!
Nwosu will battle Emanuel for the OTTO (strongside) linebacker spot in Gus Bradley’s defense and as previously mentioned, will be used as an extra pass rusher depending on the down and distance.
To round out the linebacking group, I think the Chargers continue their long history of keeping undrafted guys around by keeping D’Juan Hines. Hines has shown enough and will probably contribute on special teams at first and act as an insurance policy is Pullard turns back into a pumpkin.
- Casey Hayward
- Trevor Williams
- Desmond King
- Michael Davis
- Craig Mager
With Jason Verrett unfortunately injured and potentially fighting for his career, it will be the same three starters as last season with Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams on the outside with Des King in the slot. It’s tried and tested and if they play as well as last season or better, then Los Angeles have one of the better groups in the league.
After that, I’m a big fan of Michael Davis. I think he showed a lot of talent in limited action last year and I’d like to see him on the field some more this year.
The main beneficiary of the Verrett injury is Craig Mager who I think has kind of played his way on to the roster without doing a lot. Tony Brown and Brandon Facyson just aren’t ready to play at this level yet and Mager didn’t do anything horrible enough in preseason action to warrant being cut, so he’s in by default which to me is disappointing. I’d like the team to keep Facyson on the practice squad if possible to see if he can add some things to his game and push Mager for his spot because I’ve never seen anything from Mager that says he’s even a high end back up in this league.
- Derwin James
- Jahleel Addae
- Adrian Phillips
- Rayshawn Jenkins
Lastly on defense are the safeties and I feel like this is another group that picks itself. What will be interesting to see is who plays where and how often.
Going back to the draft, the Chargers simply had to pick Derwin James at 17 as he was by far the most talented player remaining and he’s a perfect fit for their defense. The problem comes that he’s a better fit at strong safety where they have Jahleel Addae entrenched as starter after an impressive tear last year.
Fortunately, Derwin is the best free safety on the roster, so hopefully common sense prevails and he starts there over Adrian Phillips.
Rayshawn Jenkins is Gus’s Bradley’s guy and has taken snaps at both safety positions so look for him to get an increase in reps.
- Drew Kaser
- Caleb Sturgis
- Mike Windt
Both Kaser and Windt were locks to come back so nothing really to say with regards to those two guys.
One of the toughest choices comes right at the end with the kicker battle between Roberto Aguayo and Caleb Sturgis. I’ve gone for Sturgis due to experience but I will day this; this has been a real battle and as the coaches have repeatedly said, it’s been neck and neck. With this in mind, I feel like Roberto Aguayo has banished his demons now and shown he’s a viable option for any team who needs a kicker during the season. If I have got this pick wrong and the team go with Aguayo, I’d have no problem with it whatsoever.
I just hope that the team actually make a decision on this and don’t keep two kickers as they’ve mentioned. I think it would seem weak, it would muddy the waters and also be a waste of a more useful roster spot.
So there it is, my 53 man roster prediction for your Los Angeles Chargers. If you missed the offense, you can click here.
– Lee Wakefield is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @Wakefield90