Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack May Give Chargers Edge in AFC West

Among the many off-season moves the Chargers made this spring, the acquisition of linebacker Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears may be the single most important addition to the roster. Mack, who was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, has continued to play at a high level and at age 31 still has some good years left.

The combination of outside defensive player Joey Bosa and Mack is arguably the best rushing duo in the NFL. Pro Football Focus seems to agree with that assessment. PFF rated Mack as the third best edge rusher in the NFL, while Bosa was rated the fifth best edge rusher in the NFL, just ahead of his brother Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers. Two of the top five pass rushers in the NFL on the Chargers roster.

PFF said of Mack that he, "continues to be among the league's best edge defenders and has the highest PFF run-defense grade of any edge rusher over the past two seasons (90.6)." Mack will be an important addition to the run defense. Mack is a six-time Pro Bowl selection (2015-2020) with 76.5 sacks and 23 forced fumbles in his career.

PFF said of the Bosa brothers that they, "have become dominant NFL forces just the way they were in college, with never much to separate the two. Both boast elite PFF grades and elite pressure totals over their NFL careers and are candidates for dominant seasons at any given time." Joey Bosa is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016. He has 58 career sacks.

At the Chargers two-day mandatory mini-camp a few weeks ago, Charger head coach Brandon Staley mentioned that Mack is rounding into shape. "Khalil is doing great out there," Staley said. "I think from when he got here to now, he's made a lot of progress. He's a guy, as you guys will know, he knows himself better than any of us, so he will be ready to go. There's a long journey between now and our first game, but I really like the progress that he's made."

Bosa was asked for his thoughts upon hearing that Mack was a member of the Chargers. "I think my brother said something about it," said Bosa. "I was like, 'Woah, let's work out now [laughter].' He's cool. I don't know, I just don't really have any, really, prior connection to him, but it's great to be out here and get to know him now. His game speaks for itself."

The Chargers added a lot of depth on defense in the offseason, particularly on the defensive line, which should help Bosa and Mack. The addition of defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day from the Los Angeles Rams, nose tackle Austin Johnson from the New York Giants, linebacker Kyle Van Noy from the New England Patriots, defensive end Morgan Fox, and linebacker Troy Reeder will add depth to the front seven and add help for Bosa and Mack.

Along with the free agent acquisition of Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson and cornerback Bryce Callahan, the secondary should be better. Then there is Derwin James, the best defensive player on the team, a player the Chargers love to move around on defense, and it is easy to see the potential of this roster.

The NFL is a passing league and having good edge rushers is a requirement if your team is going to make the playoffs and attempt to make a run at a Super Bowl. In the recent 2022 NFL draft, three of the first five players selected were edge rushers.

Bosa and Mack will make life tougher for the talented AFC West quarterbacks, starting with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, along with Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos and Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders. They could help lead the Chargers to their first AFC West division title since the 2009 season.


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