2. Derwin James
The most important player on the Chargers is the quarterback and the second-most important player is the quarterback of the defense. Derwin James is the life and soul of the defensive side of the football for the Chargers and if the team is going to accomplish what it is capable of on defense then it needs Derwin James to play and be healthy.
Granted, the defense was one of the worst in the league last season with James being mostly healthy but without him, it could have been much worse. Not only was James moving around the defense and making plays happen but he was operating as the green dot, essentially being Brandon Staley's right-hand man out there on the field.
If James was not on the team last season then the Chargers may have not even finished with a .500 record despite how good the team was offensively. Heck, the Chargers lost the second game against the Kansas City Chiefs primarily because James got hurt.
While there is a lot of talk about how the Chargers should have taken the point against the Chiefs, the fact of the matter is that James was shutting down Travis Kelce and the second he stopped playing is when Kelce went off. Kelce and Patrick Mahomes won that game for the Chiefs late and with Derwin out there, things would have been different.
Yes, there are new pieces on the defense that were brought in to elevate that side of the football from where it was a year ago, but the leader remains the same. The Chargers are 21-14 when James plays an entire game and are 12-18 when he doesn't play.