The Los Angeles Chargers edge rushers go into the 2023 season with their starting lineup more than set. If both starters had been healthy at the same time for more than a few games last year, they might have been one of the better edge rush duos in the league – and it is still possible that we could see that in 2023. However, the future is more murky at the position, and as such, the depth is just as important.
Previewing the 2023 Los Angeles Chargers Edge Rushers
The Starters: Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack
Joey Bosa remains one of the team’s star players, having just been ranked #22 in LWOS’s own top 50 player rankings. Unfortunately, he spent most of 2022 injured. He finally returned in the Wildcard game but was mostly remembered for a costly penalty in the historic blown lead. He’ll be coming into 2023 with a chip on his shoulder, but he’ll also need to keep his emotions in check.
Khalil Mack was the star acquisition for the Chargers last off-season. While his production was slightly marred by offensive lines focusing all their energy on him with Bosa out, he still put in a quite respectable eight-sack season, along with 12 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles, gaining a Pro Bowl berth. He also did not miss any time, which was a good sign coming off missing half a season in 2021.
The issue is that – similar to the wide receiver situation with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams – keeping these two on the team is currently quite costly. The Chargers kicked the can down the road by restructuring deals for 2023, but it’s likely that one of those two players will be gone in 2024 – maybe 2025 at best. Most likely it would be Mack, given that he’s in his early 30s and his most elite days are behind him, while Bosa is still in his prime. But if Bosa were to have a second straight injury-marred year while Mack stayed healthy, that could change.
The Younger Players: Tuli Tuipulotu, Chris Rumph II
Tuli Tuipulotu was drafted in the second round this year by the Chargers, and is likely the guy they hope will take over once one of their current starting duo is gone. While he may not be on the level of Bosa or Mack, he is a unanimous All-American and most recent recipient of the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Award, which bodes well. His last year with USC saw him finish with 13.5 sacks. He has the versatility to play on the inside as well, which could help him get some more time as a rotational player in his rookie year than he would otherwise.
Chris Rumph II, a former fourth-rounder, was a previous attempt to find another potential starting edge rusher in the Draft – before the Mack acquisition. This one hasn’t panned out as well. He’s okay enough as a depth piece, but it’s telling that he never got a single start even when Bosa went down last year. There is still time for him to prove himself, but it’s running out.
Everyone Else: Carlo Kemp, Brevin Allen, Ty Shelby
Carlo Kemp is a returning practice squad player from last year. Before that, he was the sack leader for the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL. He hasn’t played a regular-season snap in the NFL yet, and barring a lot of injuries, that may not change this year either. But he’s still a likely candidate to keep his practice squad spot, more so than Ty Shelby or undrafted free agent Brevin Allen.
Main Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports