Pro Football Focus put out its top 101 players from the 2016 season. Three Chargers were included.
The 2016 Chargers season wasn’t a good one, but at least several players thrived. After cornerback Jason Verrett (No. 49) was the only Charger to make the list in 2015, a trio of players made PFF’s 2016 list. Let’s see who made the cut.
No. 32: DE Joey Bosa
Joey Bosa, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, was the first Charger to be selected. Here’s what Sam Monson had to say:
“It took too long for him to get on the field, but once Joey Bosa was out there, he set about making all the doubters look foolish, generating pressure at a rate PFF analysts haven’t seen from a rookie over the past decade of grading. Bosa ended the season with 59 total QB pressures despite only playing 563 snaps. He was effective as both a pass-rusher and run defender, playing both defensive end and outside linebacker for the Chargers on the left and right sides of the defense. Simply put, Bosa was everything the Chargers could have wished for in a top draft pick.”
It was the first time in over a decade that the Chargers had a top-10 pick–and they nailed it. Bosa led the team in sacks (10.5), which was second all-time among Chargers rookies. According to PFF, Bosa notched more pressures through his first 12 games than any player in the last 11 years and ended up grading out as the fifth-best edge defender.
Not only that, but Bosa won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. What more can you ask for?!
No. 39: CB Casey Hayward
Casey Hayward, a 2016 free-agent acquisition, was the second Charger on Monson’s list. Here’s what he had to say about Hayward:
The Chargers signed Casey Hayward in the offseason and immediately gave him the opportunity to prove he was more than just a slot corner. When No. 1 CB Jason Verrett went down, Hayward became the team’s top corner, and responded by leading the league with seven interceptions. Over the season, Hayward allowed just one touchdown, and QBs throwing the ball his way recorded a passer rating of just 53.4, the third-best mark in the league for CBs. That’s not bad for a player the Packers pegged as a nickel corner only.
Hayward, who was PFF’s No. 7 overall corner, had a breakout year, finishing the season with a league-high seven interceptions, 20 pass deflections and 58 total tackles. The 27-year-old also made his first Pro Bowl and was named second-team All-Pro.
According to NFL.com’s Matt Harmon, Hayward allowed just 51 percent of passes against him to be completed (it’s an even more impressive stat considering Hayward went against the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper and DeAndre Hopkins). General manager Tom Telesco swung and missed on his first free-agent corner (Derek Cox), but he made up for it with the signing of Hayward.
No. 47: OLB Melvin Ingram
Melvin Ingram, an unrestricted free agent, had solid back-to-back seasons. He is the third and final Charger in the top 101. Here’s what Monson had to say:
Sometimes all it takes for an edge rusher to realize his potential is time, and Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram has started to justify the first-round pick the team spent on him—right as he enters free agency. Aided by the introduction of fellow edge defender Joey Bosa, Ingram recorded 72 total QB pressures and 33 defensive stops, grading well against both the run and pass and finishing with the sixth-best PFF grade among all edge defenders (88.1).
Ingram has 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, including eight this year. According to PFF, he had multiple pressures in every single game of the season. He may not have compiled all the sacks, but he gave the Chargers a solid pass-rush presence (finished with a pass-rush grade of +84.9, ninth-best among edge defenders, per PFF).
Ingram is a player who can rush a passer, stop the run and, at times, cover. Many question whether or not the Chargers should re-sign Ingram partly because of new DC Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme.
ESPN’s Eric Williams projects that Ingram would fit well in the pass-rushing “Leo” role (defensive end) . He’s also versatile enough to move to linebacker in certain situations.
That said, the Chargers cannot afford to lose a pass-rusher like Ingram. Hopefully, the team can come to terms on a reasonable long-term deal with the 27-year-old veteran. The franchise tag is also a suggestion.