Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports – LA Chargers
While edge rusher is a draft need for the LA Chargers, it should not be a first-round need in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The LA Chargers have a lot of things to fix for next season, starting with the coaching staff and trickling down to several areas of the roster. Most notably, the team needs a better defense next season if they want any chance of contending for the NFL Playoffs.
They will naturally improve if they can get healthy in key areas, such as safety and linebacker with Derwin James and Drue Tranquill, respectively. However, the team still needs to address the roster and the best way to do so is the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Chargers are going to have a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and some Charger fans have expressed the desire to draft an edge rusher in the first round. Personally, I do not think that is the direction that the team should head and I have three compelling reasons why.
1. The defensive line has been good this year with both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram playing
The reason for drafting an edge rusher, at least on paper, is to replace Melvin Ingram. Ingram has not been himself this season and it is easy to look at a year in which he has recorded zero sacks and wants to move on to someone younger.
However, in a holistic point of view, the defensive line has not been bad (at least in pass rush) when both Ingram and Bosa are playing together. Ingram and Bosa have suited up together five times this season and the fewest number of pressures (numbers via Pro Football Focus) is 16.
The average number of quarterback pressures in those five games is 25 and Ingram is responsible, on average, for about four and a half per game. Sure, that might not be all that impressive, but the defensive line has not been as good when he is not playing, showing the impact he has.
The Chargers have played four games without Melvin Ingram, all of which Joey Bosa played. The team averages 14.25 quarterback pressures in those four games with the most recent game against Buffalo being the only game in which they surpassed 20 and that is only because Bosa had his best game of the season, pressuring Josh Allen seven times alone.
The defensive line has averaged 10 more pressures when Ingram plays than when he doesn’t, so it is clear that he is still making a tangible difference. With him and Uchenna Nwosu healthy, the Chargers have a really solid three-headed edge-rushing monster.
Sure, it gets worse when one or two of the three get injured but I don’t think it is very wise to spend a high draft pick on injury insurance. That need can be pushed off a year, especially considering the Chargers can easily afford to bring Melvin Ingram back.