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Where Does the Chargers Secondary Rank In The AFC West Heirarchy?

Welcome to July, the time between OTAs and minicamps and before training camps. The rosters are filling out, and the current free-agent market is scarce. Teams are unwinding and preparing for the long, grueling, now 17-week season with an added game. So, let’s examine the Los Angeles Chargers secondary.

In a vacuum, it appears that the loss of Casey Hayward would be tough for the Chargers to overcome in the 2021 season. However, looking a little deeper, the Chargers’ secondary should be dangerous.

The decision to hire Brandon Staley as the head coach, who led the Los Angeles Rams to the top defense in 2020, was terrific. Over and over again, Staley had mentioned how involved he would be on the defensive side, and perhaps Tom Telesco and the Chargers brass made the hiring largely for that reason.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Denver Broncos are no slouches by any means, even with the Broncos’ interesting and crowded quarterback room.

So, here comes the million-dollar question.

Where does the Chargers secondary rank in the AFC West?

Interesting question, right?

The simple answer is that the Chargers have the best secondary in the division, to be honest. But we will get to that in a bit.

The Kansas City Chiefs– despite coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances– don’t hold the top spot as far as secondary is concerned.

Tyrann Mathieu has really come along nicely since joining Kansas City, and Daniel Sorensen rounding out the safety group is a scary sight. On the other hand, the Chiefs’ corners are susceptible, and watching them last season, it is evident.

They finished 5th in the NFL in interceptions, although Mathieu and Sorensen combined for nine of those 16.

The rest of the secondary is Charvarius Ward, DeAndre Baker, and L’Jarius Sneed— of note. The Chiefs’ secondary group is right behind the Chargers.

The Denver Broncos should have a much-improved group after bringing back Justin Simmons and drafting Patrick Surtain II in the first round of the draft, infamously passing on Justin Fields to grab the Alabama defender.

Kareem Jackson will mirror Simmons deep once again, and if they can find a way to gel, the Broncos’ secondary could pose some serious damage in the AFC West.

Then comes the Raiders, who now have former Chargers DC Gus Bradley in the same role for Jon Gruden’s club.

But the Raiders secondary is rather interesting. They were thrilled to snag Trevon Moehrig in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he should immediately take the starting spot at free safety. Johnathan Abram and Karl Joseph will switch around at strong safety.

But the cornerback position is wildly inconsistent. Trayvon Mullen and Amik Robertson are still up in the air as far as their success goes, and the Raiders are still getting heat for taking Damon Arnette in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

What does help is the Raiders’ addition of Hayward, who followed Bradley to the Raiders after he was let go from the Bolts for cap reasons.

Now for the fun part.

Dissecting the Chargers group

First and foremost, star safety Derwin James is back and ready to roll after missing all of last season with yet another devastating injury. Michael Davis played exceptionally well in 2020,  finishing the campaign with three picks–including a pick-six– and appearing in every single game for LA.

Chris Harris Jr. survived the cap cuts and should do wonders with Staley, as should the entire defensive group. Oh, and there’s this guy named Asante Samuel Jr. who the Bolts landed, somehow, in the 2nd round of the draft.

Add in Brandon Facyson and Alohi Gilman, as well as Ben DeLuca, who can snag a spot as one of the undrafted free agents, and there’s a lot to like about this group.

Nasir Adderley should flourish under Staley, although the jury is still out on the Bolts 2019 second-round pick out of Delaware.

Mark Webb, the 7th round pick, could also pay dividends, and Tevaughn Campbell should play frequently in the secondary.

On paper, the Chargers have the deepest, most well-rounded group, and the addition of Staley– who will be hands-on with these players– can push this group to the top of the division and one of the best units in the entire NFL.

2021 should be a fun one in Los Angeles, and there is a lot of excitement around the Chargers organization.

AFC West secondary rankings 

  1. Chargers
  2. Chiefs
  3. Broncos
  4. Raiders

For what it’s worth, the Broncos and Chiefs feel like a toss-up. Denver has the talent edge, but it remains to be seen how well Surtain will do in his rookie campaign, giving the Chiefs the slight nod as of this moment – especially after Snead’s emergence.

“This is who Derwin James is.”
@shawnemerriman
hopped on the pod to talk 3️⃣3️⃣ » Via Chargers Social Media

 

Matt Wadleigh

Author Matt Wadleigh

Matt is a sportswriter originating from Oceanside, Calif. He now resides in Fresno, Calif and attended Fresno State, and was a part of the drumline (Go Dogs). Growing up in San Diego Couty, naturally, Matt was born and raised a Bolts fan and has followed the team up to Los Angeles. While the citation was sensitive, the passion for the Chargers never died down and Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and company are ready to rock and roll (cue Austin Ekeler’s air guitar). The Los Angeles sports landscape is thriving and let’s have some fun with SoFi Stadium becoming the hub for the sports world.

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