American Football

PFF names Chargers top-3 players entering 2023 season


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Defense leads the way for the Chargers’ best players entering the new season.

On Wednesday morning, Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema dropped his list of the top three players on each of the NFL’s 32 teams. Naturally, you’d expect the three players listed to be the three highest-graded players on the team based off their own grades, but it looks like Sikkema went about his selections with a more subjective outlook.

When it came to the Chargers — a team bursting at the seams with some very talented players — Sikkema likely had a tough job landing on just three players. At the same time, the three he picked almost make it seem like the opposite as he landed on safety Derwin James, quarterback Justin Herbert, and edge rusher Joey Bosa.

Here’s what Sikkema had to say about his picks:

The Chargers have a really talented roster; they just have to stay healthy. James, Bosa and Rashawn Slater are three stars who missed time last season and are some of the best at their positions when healthy. Herbert ranked ninth in passing grade (79.5) in 2022 with 24 big-time throws, but it is his low 1.6% turnover-worthy play percentage that will be the main building block moving forward with a new offensive coordinator this upcoming season.

For those who are curious, Herbert finished the 2023 season with an overall grade of 77.9 which was good for third on offense among players who played at least 200 snaps, behind only Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. As for James and Bosa’s grades, their respective overall season grades of 77.6 and 76.0 ranked first and second on defense. So altogether, Sikkema’s picks and PFF’s grades weren’t all that far off.

Of course there are several other players who you could make an argument for to be amongst this group which is why Sikkema highlighted left tackle Rashawn Slater, running back Austin Ekeler, and edge rusher Khalil Mack.

Slater played just 175 snaps before his season was cut short but he still managed to earn an excellent 84.0 season grade. After scoring another 18 touchdowns, Ekeler earned an 80.0 grade which would have been much better if it wasn’t for his porous 29.9 grade in pass blocking. Lastly, Mack finished fifth on defense with an above-average 71.9. He was steady across the board, but an unproductive end to the season likely hurt his numbers.

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