Projecting Chargers’ defensive depth chart for 2021

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The Chargers are just a little over a week away from their season opener against The Washington Football Team under new head coach Brandon Staley, and with that, the positions are set after finalizing their 53-man roster.

The team has yet to release the official depth chart, so let’s dive into how the defensive side of the ball could shape up heading into the 2021 season, highlighting who is likely to start and serve as depth pieces behind them.

Defensive line

Starter

Backup

Reserve

DT

Justin Jones

Christian Covington

NT

Linval Joseph

DE

Jerry Tillery

Eric Banks

The Chargers have a stout starting front. With Tillery and Jones’ skillset coupled with the new scheme, the two could be due for breakout seasons. Forrest Merrill was set to back up Joseph at the nose tackle spot, but he was waived in favor of Banks, the latest addition, a long interior defender who brings a penetrating style of play.

Edge defender

Starter

Backup

Reserve

EDGE1

Joey Bosa

Uchenna Nwosu

EDGE2

Kyler Fackrell

Chris Rumph II

Bosa and Nwosu were seen as the starters coming into the summer, but Fackrell played his way into the job during the preseason. Regardless, both players are expected to still play often during the season because of the many different packages in Staley’s defense. Rumph will primarily be a special teamer, but he should still see the field at times on third-down situations.

Inside Linebacker

Starter

Backup

Reserve

ILB1

Kenneth Murray

Kyzir White

Amen Ogbongbemiga

ILB2

Drue Tranquill

Nick Niemann

White and Tranquill will be co-starters alongside Murray at inside linebacker, which means all three will play a lot. Even though he had a stellar summer, Niemann isn’t likely going to be on the field all that much. Instead, he and Ogbongbemiga will be making their money on special teams.

Cornerback

Starter

Backup

CB1

Michael Davis

Ryan Smith

CB2

Asante Samuel Jr.

Tevaughn Campbell

Nickel

Chris Harris Jr.

Multiplicity and disguise is a staple which means the secondary will be interchangeable. When the unit goes into nickel or dime packages, Harris will slide into the slot, while Samuel mans the boundary opposite Davis. Smith and Campbell are primarily special teams aces.

Safety

Starter

Backup

Reserve

FS

Nasir Adderley

Mark Webb

SS

Derwin James

Alohi Gilman

Trey Marshall

James will be the “Star” of the defense. Adderley will line up in the slot on top of patrolling the deep parts of the field. Gilman will see playing time as a hybrid safety-linebacker (Money). Webb and Marshall can both play safety and nickel and dime backer.