The Los Angeles Chargers have potential on defense as they ranked No. 16 in the NFL in yards against, but gave up the No. 29 most points in the NFL last season.
If the Chargers can improve defensively in the red zone and the offense turns the ball over less, then Los Angeles should have an impressive defense led by Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa.
Here are the 11 most important Chargers’ defensive players in 2017.
No. 11 – DT Brandon Mebane
The Chargers lack depth in the middle of the defense. Los Angeles was both average against the run and the pass last season and will need to improve on defense if they want a shot at the AFC West crown.
Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has been a very productive player his entire career but is now 32-years-old. Therefore, he is going to have to work tirelessly during the summer to stop any sort of drop off in 2017.
A decline in play would be bad news for Los Angeles as he is their only consistently great player in the interior of the defensive line.
No. 10 – LB Jatavis Brown
With a weak interior of the defensive front, there could be a lot of free roaming running backs for the linebacker corps to chase down.
Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown, a fifth-round pick from 2016, had a surprisingly impressive rookie campaign with an 80.8 Pro Football Focus player grade.
He has a bright future and will need to continue to improve with a lack of run stuffers at the defensive tackle position.
No. 9 – LB Korey Toomer
Chargers linebacker Korey Toomer is in a similar position as Brown. Both of them were positives of the Los Angeles defense last season, and it is expected for them to be again in 2017.
Toomer and Brown need to play well in combination to help shut down the good running backs in the AFC West which include Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch.
The inside linebacker position should not worry Bolt Nation as the two young linebackers need to and will play well.
No. 8 – CB Jason Verrett
After an impressive first two seasons, Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett missed 12 games in 2016 and struggled in the four games he did play.
However, the AFC West is loaded with great wide receivers that force teams to have three good cornerbacks if they want to compete.
With that being said, Verrett has to regain his old form and become one of the three as there are not many capable replacements behind him.No. 7 – LB Jerry Attaochu
Chargers linebacker Jerry Attaochu missed eight games last season and did not have a good showing when he was out there.
Nonetheless, he was a good player during his first two seasons in the NFL and just needs to stay healthy.
If he can do so, he can set the edge and provide some pressure in the passing game.
Outside of Bosa and Mebane, there isn’t much on the defensive line. Attaochu can help make up for the deficiencies.
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.