The San Diego Chargers received solid production from defensive ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, but they can improve up front against the run by adding a stout nose tackle to the team’s defensive line rotation.
Lock: Liuget, Reyes
Free agents: Cam Thomas
The good: Liuget totaled a team-high 5.5 sacks, consistently commanding a double team as an inside pass rusher, while Reyes finished just behind with five sacks. The Chargers gave up just 108 rushing yards a contest, which was No. 12 in the NFL in 2013.
The bad: San Diego allowed a robust 4.59 yards per rush, No. 29 in the NFL, and finished with just 35 sacks in 2013 (Tied for No. 23 in the league). Improving those numbers starts with more consistent play against the run and the pass up front.
The money: The Chargers do not have a lot of money tied up into the defensive line. Liuget is set to make $1.1 million in total compensation in 2014, while Reyes and Lissemore’s total cash value is around $600,000 for the upcoming season. Liuget will be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, while Reyes will be a free agent at the end of the 2015 season. Bringing back Thomas in free agency is an option. He struggled at times holding the point in the run game, but played better late in 2013.
Draft priority: High. The Chargers need to add some heft up front, either through the draft or free agency. There’s a dearth of defensive line prospects in this year’s draft that can play two-gap nose tackle up front, so San Diego might look to add some inexpensive options in free agency that provide versatility like Seattle’s Clinton McDonald or Oakland’s Vance Walker.