LA Chargers News

LA Chargers: Grading the 2020 linebacker position

DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 01: Denzel Perryman #52 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates with Kyzir White #44 and Derwin James #33 after making an interception against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 01, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 01: Denzel Perryman #52 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates with Kyzir White #44 and Derwin James #33 after making an interception against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 01, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
facebooktwitterreddit
3 of 3
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) – LA Chargers

Kyzir White

White is a really underrated player, at least going off of last year. He was doing very well on defense in 2018, but had a knee injury in Week 3 and didn’t return. Year three will be a real test as to what White’s role is exactly.

White is a solid linebacker who’s made the tough transition from playing safety in college to linebacker in the pros. Last year, he rotated a lot between the weak side and the outside. He only played one game at middle linebacker, but I’d still classify him as more of a MIKE than SAM or OTTO.

With Davis now departed, there’s realistically about 800 snaps to be divvied up between a group of middle linebackers. At least to start the season, those snaps will probably mostly go to White and Tranquill, with some portion of them also going to Perryman. This is assuming Murray starts on the weak side.

Frankly, I hope the LA Chargers play him more than some fans expect. There’s a lot of hype around Tranquill and Murray, for good reason, but White still has good coverage skills, great tackling skills, and provides sound defense overall. I’m not sure what the coaching staff’s view on him is headed into 2020, but he should see some increased role based on his 2019 play.

Nick Vigil

Nick Vigil certainly didn’t come with the free agency hype that some of the other Chargers’ acquisitions did. To be truthful, he’s not that great.  He’s OK at most things, but he hasn’t really been great or even good at one specific defensive trait. Vigil is OK depth that may be able to stop the bleeding if he’s asked to play more due to injury.

To Vigil’s credit, he does have a lot of experience under his belt in terms of snap count. 985 snaps was about 180 more snaps than Davis had last year, and it’s several hundred snaps over the snap counts of Tranquill, Perryman, and White last year. Even if Vigil is somewhat mediocre, readily having a linebacker on the depth chart who we know is capable of playing that amount of snaps is still a good thing.

2020 is a transitional year for the Chargers as a team, and that’s also evident when looking at the linebacker corps. Murray and Tranquill clearly represent a vision to the future. Tranquill will likely ascend to be the lead middle linebacker in 2020 while Murray will begin on the weak side.

Perryman will probably be phased out of the defense with a snap count that will likely decline with Murray, Tranquill, and White all getting more. I’m not sure why White had such a fairly small snap count last year, but he’s one of the better MIKE type linebackers on the team.

Next. "Steal a player" series, NFC South

Vigil’s not great, but he has good enough experience to be able to contribute more if need be. He’ll likely be stashed for some depth. Nwosu, while not really a linebacker, will continue to contribute off of the edge.

LA Chargers’ linebackers grade: B+

facebooktwitterreddit