Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

Assessing D-Line Options for Chargers in 2023 Draft

Andy Nelson/AP Photos
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Welcome to Part 7 of our 2023 draft preview series, which will be a position-by-position look at key prospects and where the Chargers roster stands ahead of the NFL Draft. This series will include a look at which prospects could be options for the Chargers later this month.

We chatted with ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid to break down the defensive linemen in this draft class. Reid, a former QB and coach at North Carolina Central University, can be found on Twitter @Jordan_Reid for his analysis.

Chargers status at DL

The Bolts heavily focused on this position a year ago in the offseason.

The Chargers signed Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson to notable free agent deals, and also drafted Otito Ogbonnia from UCLA in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Morgan Fox was added as a free agent after the draft and turned into one of the best signings of the offseason.

The results were a bit mixed, as the Bolts struggled to stop the run for most of the 2022 season. But this group was hit hard by injuries, with Johnson and Ogbonnia suffering season-ending injuries midway through the year. Joseph-Day also missed time late in the year with an an injury.

This entire group is back (and healthy), and should be plenty motivated to reach a higher standard in 2023.

Besides the aforementioned players, the Chargers also have Christopher Hinton and David Moa as depth options on the interior of the defensive line.

Is DL a position of need?

Reid said this position group feels a lot like others on the Bolts roster.

That is, the starters are set up front but depth and a long-term option besides Ogbonnia could make defensive line a mid-round priority next week.

"I think they need another body there," Reid said. "Sebastian Joseph-Day was the big signing last year coming over from the Rams, they had big expectations for him.

"I still think they need another body along the interior ... I would like to see them add another body at defensive tackle," Reid added.

Key draft questions

1. How do you assess the overall group of interior defensive linemen?

"This class isn't overly great at the top at defensive tackle. If I had to guess, I'd probably feel good about two guys going in the first round right now. Jalen Carter is the obvious one. Bryan Bresee, we'll see where he ends up going. I think he'll go in the latter part of the first round. Outside of that, I don't really feel good about that second or that third defensive tackle coming into the picture in the first round right now."

2. Who is a Day 2 prospect the Chargers could target?

"If they're looking for a Day 2 player to come in and be a nose, Siaki Ika from Baylor is one that I think can probably go in the Top 75 right now if I had to guess. I think that's probably the range where he could go. Siaki Ika from Baylor is probably a Day 2 guy if you're looking for a nose tackle that can be a run stuffer right away."

3. What about a Day 3 guy who could make an impact for the Bolts?

"I have two late-round guys. Jerrod Clark from Coastal Carolina, he's one of that I think can go in the fifth or sixth round. I like him quite a bit as far as that 3-4 run-stuffing guy, I think he can be that. Another one if you're looking for a late-round sleeper, Brodric Martin from Western Kentucky. He definitely can be a seventh round guy or undrafted free agent. It wouldn't surprise me if he goes any higher than that, too. He could go sixth round. Those are two late round guys that I think can be that run-stuffing guy."

Expert rankings's Daniel Jeremiah currently has five defensive tackles in his overall Top 50: 5. Jalen Carter, 27. Calijah Kancey, 37. Bryan Bresee, 41. Mazi Smith and 47. Keeanu Benton

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has one defensive tackle in his overall Top 25: 1. Carter.

Rankings for defensive tackles by Jeremiah, his NFL Media counterpart Bucky Brooks, Kiper, analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler are listed below.

Potential Chargers options

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on (linked for each player's name).


School: Pittsburgh | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 281 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 11 games; 31 tackles (17 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks

Quick fact: Kancey had a huge 2022 season, earning unanimous All-American status and ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He became the first Pittsburgh player since Aaron Donald to receive both awards.

Reid's Review: "A lot of mixed opinions about him. He is undersized, but his first and his athleticism are incredible. You try to gravitate away from drawing the parallels to Aaron Donald just because he's an alien is what I like to say. He's one of one, I don't really like to compare people to Aaron. But, undersized D-tackle that went to Pitt, and he has a lot of similar traits from an athletic standpoint. He's not Aaron Donald, but as far as the athleticism, the hand usage and just his explosiveness, I would be shocked if he doesn't go in the first round."


School: Clemson | Year: Redshirt Sophomore | Ht: 6-foot-5 ½ | Wt: 298 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 10 games; 15 tackles (9 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two passes defensed

Quick fact: Bresee burst onto the scene in 2020, becoming the second player in Clemson history to earn ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.


School: Michigan | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 323 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler

2022 stats: 14 games; 48 tackles (23 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery

Quick fact: A First-Team All-Big Ten selection in 2022, Smith was a major key to the Wolverines defense that was ranked sixth in the nation in total defense. He was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year in 2022.


School: Northwestern | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 282 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- DT5 DT2 DT5 DT8

2022 stats: 12 games; 38 tackles (27 solo), 9.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, one pass defensed, two forced fumbles

Quick fact: Adebawore led the Wildcats in sacks and forced fumbles the last two seasons and earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors in 2022.

Reid's Review: "It really depends on who you talk to honestly. I like him outside more, I think you're going to get more value from him outside just because I don't know how consistently he can hold up at the point of attack because it wasn't pretty at the Senior Bowl when they asked him to do it. When they asked him to play 3-technique, he's just not stout enough to hold up in there. I like him more so in that tweener, that big base defensive end."


School: Wisconsin | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 309 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
DT5 -- DT6 DT8 DT6

2022 stats: 12 games; 35 tackles (20 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two passes defensed

Quick fact: Benton finished his college career on a tear, stacking up 7.0 tackles for loss over the Badgers last four games of 2022.


School: Baylor | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 335 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- DT7 DT7 DT9

2022 stats: 12 games; 24 tackles (10 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, two passes defensed

Quick fact: Ika originally attended LSU and was a part of the defensive line that helped the Tigers win the 2020 National Championship. After transferring to Baylor in for the 2021 season, Ika earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors each of his last two years.


School: Florida | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-6 | Wt: 310 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- -- DT10 DT5

2022 stats: 13 games; 55 tackles (23 solo), 2.0 sacks, 4.0 tackles for loss, one interception and two passes defensed

Quick fact: Throughout his three seasons at Florida, Dexter appeared in all 38 of the Gators games and started all 13 in 2022.


School: Auburn | Year: Redshirt Junior | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 273 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
-- -- DT9 -- DT10

2022 stats: 12 games, 45 tackles (36 solo), 6.0 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three passes defended.

Quick fact: Wooden was a three-year starter on the Auburn defensive line and finished his collegiate career with a total of 30.0 tackles for loss and 17.0 sacks.

Bolt Up for 2023!

Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.

From Our Partners