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How Many Chargers Made ESPN's Top 100 Players List?

Buzz 08.28

The countdown to Week 1 is on — and so are the predictions from NFL pundits.

A panel of dozens of ESPN's NFL experts rated their top 100 players, but these rankings came with a twist compared to other top 100 lists.

Rather than ranking the players based off how they played last season, this list was focused on expectations for the upcoming season and a prediction to how the list will look following the season.

And the Chargers were well represented, adding five players to the list — three on offense and two on defense.

The Bolts highest-rated player was none other than quarterback Justin Herbert, who came in at No. 11 overall. ESPN predicts Herbert will continue to solidify himself as a top-five quarterback this season under a new offensive coordinator.

ESPN's Lindsey Thiry wrote:

With a blockbuster [extension] in hand, Herbert is continuing to grow into a leadership position as the franchise quarterback. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is intent on creating an explosive offense that exploits Herbert's arm strength and the plethora of playmakers surrounding him. With the signal-caller entering his fourth season, teammates say Herbert is taking greater command of his unit and is quicker to read and dissect a defense.

The outlet predicts Herbert will surpass 4,000 passing yards for a fourth straight year to start a career, as well as eclipse the 30 touchdown mark in 2023.

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On the defensive side, ESPN is predicting a big bounce back year for a member of the Bolts who missed time last season.

Outside linebacker Joey Bosa has been back throughout training camp and healthy after missing 12 games last season with a significant groin injury.

And the NFL experts predict a big year for Bosa in 2023, coming in as the fifth best edge rusher in the league on this list at No. 17 overall and finishing with 11 sacks.

Thiry wrote:

After spending 12 games on injured reserve recovering from groin surgery… Bosa is fiercely motivated to prove that he should remain among the league's most feared pass-rushers. Bosa, playing opposite Khalil Mack, will strive to top the 10.5 sacks he produced in 2021.

Another star of the Chargers defense came in next on ESPN's list at No. 60.

Safety Derwin James, Jr., continues to do it all on the field. by showcasing his versatility each and every game.

James is coming off Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, and the panel expects much of the same from one of the most impactful defensive players in the NFL.

Thiry wrote:

A hard-hitting safety, James is a proven playmaker across the defense with the ability to line up in the secondary, in the box or even at the line of scrimmage. Watch for coach Brandon Staley to continue to trust James to make big plays when needed, which could allow him the opportunity to improve on his career-best four sacks from last season.

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Finally, a pair of members of the Bolts offense rounded out the Chargers in back-to-back slots.

Like Bosa, tackle Rashawn Slater is making a return in 2023 after missing 14 games due to a biceps injury, coming in the list at No. 87.

Now back in the fold, the third-year tackle is out to show why he was a Second-Team All-Pro selection as a rookie and one of the best tackles in football.

Thiry wrote:

Slater expected to turn in a second-year encore coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season but instead spent 14 games in 2022 sidelined after rupturing his left biceps tendon. Healthy again, Slater is eager to return to left tackle, where in 2021 he played a key role in keeping Herbert upright, as he was sacked only 31 times (tied for the sixth-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL).

The final Chargers player on ESPN's list was Austin Ekeler, who came in right after Slater at No. 88.

Ekeler's 38 touchdowns over the last two regular seasons has led the NFL, as he continues to prove he's one of the most versatile and most productive running backs in the league.

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