11 most important Los Angeles Chargers defensive players in 2017

The article can also be found on the Chargers Wire!


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.

Brandon Mebane
Photo via AP Photo/Gregory Bull

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.

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Photo via Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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11 most important Oakland Raiders defensive players in 2017

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


The Oakland Raiders won 12 games last season, but it was not thanks to their No. 26 ranked defense. They took the bend don’t break mantra seriously often waiting for Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack to save the day by forcing a turnover.

However, they will need to improve mightily on defense this season if they want to build on last year’s success.

Here are the 11 most important Raiders on defense for 2017.

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Photo via Steve Cheng

No. 11 – DT Eddie Vanderdoes

Oakland struggled last season getting any interior pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they racked up just three sacks from the defensive tackle position.

Now, the two players who had those three sacks, former Raiders defensive tackles Dan Williams and Stacy McGee, are now gone.

With that being said, Raiders defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who has shown to have an inside push, will need to be effective to help improve upon last year’s weakness in the middle.

No. 10 – CB Sean Smith

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith was often torched last season for chunk plays, but still, put up an impressive Pro Football Focus player grade of 83.4.

One must not look at the PFF grade and think the position is under lock, however, Smith was not as bad as people thought last season.

As long as Oakland can find a productive nickel corner to matchup with the smaller and quicker players, then Smith will be just fine serving a significant role in the defense.

 

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Photo via USA Today Sports Images

 

No. 9 – DE Mario Edwards Jr.

Without Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith, Oakland doesn’t have an elite pass rusher to compliment Mack. Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin is solid, but he isn’t a dominant pass rushing force.

Therefore, Oakland would benefit mightily if Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has a bounceback season. He can help stop the run early, but, most importantly, can assist the pass rush by sliding inside to free the outside up for Mack and Irvin.

No. 8 – S Reggie Nelson

Raiders safety Reggie Nelson had another impressive season hauling in five interceptions.

With Oakland’s defense expected to be improved, but not elite, Nelson’s presence will tell me very important. They will need him to continue to force turnovers and also be a veteran presence with a large number of defensive rookies coming into the fold in 2017.

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Photo via Eric Risberg / AP Photo

No. 7 – LB Bruce Irvin

Currently, Irvin is the second best pass rusher on the team behind Mack and is vital to the team’s success.

The more pressure he creates, the harder it is for teams to double and triple-team Mack. The less double teams Mack has to face, the easier it will be for Mack to wreak havoc.

No. 6 – S Karl Joseph

Oakland’s defense struggled against the run last year ranking No. 23 in the NFL.

With no middle linebacker replacement in sight, there could be a lot of free running backs hitting the second level in 2017. Therefore, it is essential for Raiders safety Karl Joseph to be the hard hitting and sure-tackling safety that he is known to be.

If he isn’t, then a lot of running backs will be taken their second-level runs to the end zone.

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