The Chargers need help in a big way at numerous positions between now and Week 1 of the regular season if they want to make a push for the division and make their first playoff appearance since 2013. The number one thing Tom Telesco should search for in a player is a distinctive nastiness giving them that much-needed enforcer.
The Bolts need help at O-Line, and what better way to beef it up by adding a brute up front. Inconsistent play has led to a porous run game that yields next to nothing, and Philip Rivers finds himself on his behind a lot more than he should be.
Re-signing Joe Barksdale to a four-year, $22.2 million deal that includes $10.5 million guaranteed was a step in the right direction to help rectify that problem. Also, the Chargers have a lack of depth and experience at receiver with Keenan Allen being the only receiver with continuity with Rivers, as he’s served as one of Rivers’ three core targets over the last two and a half seasons.
Lastly, the Bolts’ D-Line resembles that of a pillow fight. It almost feels like it’s impossible to get pressure on opposing signal callers and get stops in the run game. The Chargers can go out and sign a quality D-Lineman or a run-stuffing specialist.
There’s plenty of talent out there this year, but, most importantly, they need to snag a defensive enforcer off of the market. A player that will not only be a good influence in the locker room and the community, but a player that will get the team fired up in practices, on game days and will keep them amped up throughout the duration of contests. That being said, there are a couple of names out there who I believe fit that category, and I even have a couple combo signings/draftees that together could bring that to the team.
Derrick Johnson (MLB; Kansas City Chiefs): A player that I like for the Chargers’ defense is someone who I cannot envision in a different uniform than the one he is currently in and that is Derrick Johnson. Johnson was the catalyst for an elite Chiefs defense and although he was one the shelf for virtually all of the 2014 season, he had a solid bounce back campaign in 2015 with 116 total tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and eight passes defended. Johnson would be an instant impact from the moment he puts the pen to the paper.
He impacts every facet of the game, while possessing undeniable talent. He also plays the run well and can cover running backs out of the backfield. Johnson is entering his 11th year in the NFL. What stands out most is a career 68 passes defended. He is by no means afraid to step up and cover anybody across the middle or creeping outside of the numbers.
Not only would Johnson be a huge help with his leadership on the field, but his locker room presence has the ability to bring everybody together and make them really play for each other like they should be doing. San Diego has the talent and tools on the defensive side of the ball, but they lack the grit and determination to be a truly imposing defense. A Johnson-Te’o-Perryman trio could have the potential to stir up some ruckus on that side of the ball, and when you add that to Ingram and Attaochu rushing, with the possibility of drafting Bosa, the defense would have fun and fans would be thrilled while watching them perform. That’s what Johnson can bring to the table.
He makes everybody better and, in addition to all of this, he knows the Chiefs’ defense and could provide leverage on those key divisional clashes. We couldn’t picture LT in another jersey; same with Peyton, Dwight Freeney, and even McNabb. But it certainly does happen. Let’s see if the Bolts can pry Johnson away from KC.
Tashaun Gipson + Jalen Ramsey: Next up is a signing and draftee duo. They go by the names of Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey. Gipson has grappled with health issues during his tenure in the NFL, as he’s only played one full season during his four seasons in the league. But when he’s healthy, he is indeed a playmaker and a highly qualified candidate to replace Weddle. He plays fast and can play the run, as well playing in space.
Jalen Ramsey is just about as good as they come. His broad jump, 135.0″ and his vertical leap of 41.5″ were the best at the combine and matched the likes of Patrick Peterson. He could improve on his speed, but I would really like the Chargers to select him with the third pick, and sit back and watch the Bolts groom him into a dominant, energetic force on a soon to be electric defense.
These two would bring a new element to the Chargers’ defense that would be not only highly flexible, but would add to an already up-and-coming unit lead by stud Jason Verrett. I don’t expect Telesco to go safety in the draft if he goes after Gipson, but this combo would be very nice to have. This obviously means Addae would be relegated to the bench again.
That is something I don’t mind as he seems to thrive in that role, and to be completely honest, I don’t trust him as a starter. What he lacks in speed he surely makes up for with power and hitting, but his big plays always seem to get nullified by flags. San Diego would rather prefer conservative tackling’ especially with the way the league is becoming receiver friendly, and that’s something that is not Addae’s forte.
Chris Long: Another signing that would bolster the defense is recently released DE Chris Long. Primarily a 4-3 player in St. Louis, it would be a slight stylistic shift, but I’m sure Long wouldn’t scoff at making that adjustment. He wasn’t cut due to performance issues or battles with injuries, a contractual stalemate between he and the Rams was the reason for his release.
I can see Long coming in on a two-year, $9 million deal and being a more dynamic Jarret Johnson. Johnson was a reliable tackler as well as a great locker room presence. Chris Long could be “the guy” in a system tailored for him, and I believe that system to be John Pagano’s. What’s best about Long is that the Chargers could get him for a bargain. He’s not so much an enforcer or an outlaw, but he’s the next best thing.
Joey Bosa: Lastly, a guy that sticks out more than all the others is Joey Bosa. The Ohio State Buckeye is projected to go top five in a slew of mock drafts, and the Bolts hold the No. 3 pick. With the Browns’ situation at QB, it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to see them go searching for a QB at No. 2, leaving the Chargers either Bosa or Ramsey to choose from.
Either of them make sense and would propel this defense to destructive heights, but Bosa is a freak of nature. His body is NFL ready and he boasts an ultra-competitive attitude. Bosa could not be slowed by the opposition in college even when specifically schemed for, illustrating the level of talent he claims. He was constantly in the backfield whether it be for a sack or a tackle for loss. His firm and strong hands are a huge reason as to why he can be a defensive pillar in the NFL, but Pagano must be willing to move him around.
A player such as JJ Watt cannot be duplicated, but when you are compared to him in any way, you know you’re doing something right. His speed is a rough patch, but there’s always time to get faster. Adding him to this defense will not only take the heat off some of the cornerbacks, but would alleviate pressure off of most everyone on defense. This, in turn, would spawn more wins, less communication errors and, importantly, happier fans.