NFL defenses get more elaborate each season, and many teams are starting to favor the defensive end/linebacker tweener-type defenders.
The focus of many defenses in today’s league, at least the good ones, is finding as many players that can get pressure on the quarterback and finding as many different ways as possible to make that happen.
The Los Angeles Chargers had 38 sacks last season, which ranked in the bottom half of the league. Naturally, the team is hoping to increase that number this season, and having both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the field together for a full season will go a long way toward that.
However, there isn’t a great deal of depth behind those two players and undrafted rookie Chris Peace will look to crack the 53-man roster as a speedy edge rusher.
Peace was a three-year starter at Virginia where he racked up 16 sacks and 28 tackles for loss. He brings the experience of playing in several games at a top ACC school to the next level, and his pass-rushing prowess could lead to a spot on the team.
Peace ran an impressive 4.73-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, but he doesn’t have the kind of athletic ability that will blow people away. The rest of his numbers were pretty much average at the workout, though he did post 23 reps of 225 pounds on the benchpress.
Peace wins with straight-line quickness. He doesn’t have an array of pass-rushing moves, so it remains to be seen if he can win on a consistent basis at the next level. But when looking at the depth chart, particularly behind Ingram, players like Anthony Lanier and sixth-round selection Emeke Egbule are next in line. In other words, there is room for Peace to make a move.
Peace actually had more sacks and more tackles for loss in college than Egbule did.
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Chance to make final roster (1-10 scale): 4
When guys like Lanier and Egbule are the only players in front of you, there is at least a 40 percent chance to make the roster. It’s not entirely likely, but far from impossible.
Hybrid defensive ends/linebackers are at a premium in today’s league so if Peace can pressure the passer this summer, he will get plenty of eyes on him. Egbule is a better coverage linebacker than Peace but as a situational edge rusher with room to develop, Peace could slide onto the 53-man roster in one of the last slots. If he can show that he can chip in against the run and lend support in pass coverage, he will have a decent shot.
What is more likely is that he is battling for a spot on the practice squad, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t at least get one of those. He could grow into an impact player at some point down the road.