COSTA MESA, Calif. – With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram at defensive end, the Los Angeles Chargers consistently got after the quarterback in 2017. However, the Chargers had the second-worst defense in the NFL against the run (131.1 yards per game) and need to play more consistent up front.
On the bubble: Corey Liuget
The good: Bosa (12.5 sacks) and Ingram (10.5) became the first duo for the Chargers to finish with double-digit sacks since Shawn Merriman (17 sacks) and Shaun Phillips (11.5) accomplished the feat in 2006. Bosa earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017, and Ingram played in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Bosa. The Chargers held opposing quarterbacks to a 44.7 Total QBR in 2017 -- third-worst in the NFL. The Bolts finished with 14 sacks in the fourth quarter, tied for sixth-best in the NFL. The Chargers had 10 sacks in the fourth quarter last season, tied for 15th in the NFL. McCain emerged as a surprise addition to the Chargers’ pass rush in his first season with the team, finishing with five sacks, while Philon totaled a career-high 4.5 sacks in 2017.
The bad: The Chargers allowed 131 rushing yards and a league-worst 4.88 yards per rush. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers allowed a league-worst 4.79 yards on first-down runs. The Chargers allowed a league-worst 18 rushing plays of 20 yards or more. NFL leading rusher Kareem Hunt averaged 164 rushing yards a contest in two wins for the Kansas City Chiefs over the Chargers.
The money: Liuget is scheduled to make $8 million in non-guaranteed salary for the upcoming season while Mebane is scheduled to make $4.5 million in non-guaranteed salary. Liuget turns 28 in March, and Mebane just turned 33 in January. Bosa will earn $2.8 million in the third year of his rookie deal. Ingram will earn $11.25 million in guaranteed money in the second year of a four-year, $66 million deal. Square is scheduled to make $2 million in the final year of his deal, while Philon is scheduled to earn $705,000 in the final year of his rookie contract. Attaochu and Palepoi are unrestricted free agents, while McCain is a restricted free agent. Eulls is an exclusive rights free agent.
Draft priority: Chargers defensive line coach Giff Smith has done a nice job of developing talent at the position, with players such as Rochell and Richardson possibly emerging as contributors in 2018. However, the Chargers probably will look to add another big body to the mix in 2018 through the draft, possibly in the top three rounds. At 6-4 and 346 pounds, University of Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea could make sense as an eventual replacement for Mebane. Stanford’s Harrison Phillips is active and provides some versatility.