Linebackers: Duo of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa is menacing
With the Rams' defensive line soaking up the spotlight and the attention of opposing offenses, their linebacking corps turned in a serviceable year. Outside of Leonard Floyd’s 10.5 sacks, this unit was the weak point of the Rams' attack. A former Chicago Bear, Floyd dazzled in his first season in Los Angeles and notched career highs in sacks, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.
Opposite Floyd, Samson Ebukam started the lion’s share of games at outside linebacker (14 starts) and turned in 4.5 sacks of his own. The main weakness in this unit was linked with their middle linebackers group where Micah Kiser was placed on injured reserve in November after nine starts. Troy Reeder and Kenny Young turned in the rest of the starts in the middle for a maybe not otherworldly, but solid unit.
For the 2022 Bolts, the projected linebacking group is a fearsome one, especially on the edges. Former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa will be reprising his role as the weakside linebacker and is coming off another double-digit sack (10.5) and Pro Bowl season. He will be teaming with new addition Khalil Mack who is an upgrade over Bosa’s old running mate, Melvin Ingram.
While King Mel was a great Bolt, the addition of Mack (a six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro) gives the Chargers their best all-around outside linebacker duo since Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips in the mid to late-2000s. A word of caution though since Mack only played in seven games last season due to a foot injury.
Like the Rams, the middle of this group will be the weak point with Kenneth Murray Jr. and Drue Tranquill projected as the starters. Both players will be looking to bounce back from a so-so 2021 season where they were slowed by injuries and inconsistency.
Who has the edge: 2022 Los Angeles Chargers