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Where are the Bolts in ESPN's 'Core Player' Rankings?

Buzz 06.08

The Chargers are one of the few teams in the NFL to have cornerstone players throughout the roster on both offense and defense.

And ESPN's Seth Walder believes the Bolts core ranks highly among the NFL's best — seventh to be exact.

Walder recently went through every team's roster and identified who he believed was the five best players — core players, as he called them — on each squad. He then ranked each of them based on who he thought was the best.

Walder believes the Bolts core consists of three offensive players — quarterback Justin Herbert, left tackle Rashawn Slater, wide receiver Keenan Allen — plus a pair of defenders in outside linebacker Joey Bosa and safety Derwin James, Jr.

Walter noted that this group could help elevate the Chargers to new heights in 2023.

He wrote:

On paper, this should work. You have one of the game's top young quarterbacks, a really good receiver and franchise left tackle on offense, paired with two defensive stars. This group hasn't lived up to its potential, but the recipe is there for success.

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The offensive group of Herbert, Slater and Allen have shown they're more than capable of dominating at their respective positions on the field.

Herbert spearheads the group and has set records from the moment he first joined the Bolts in 2020. The 25-year-old continues to establish himself as a premier young players and also as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

And, Walder added, he gets to work with some of the best assets a young quarterback can have in Slater and Allen.

Slater, the Chargers 2021 first-round pick, earned Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors after a dominant rookie season neutralizing some of the NFL's best pass rushers. Despite missing most of last season with a biceps injury, he is still one of the best players in the league at one of the most important positions.

As for Allen, the receiver entering Year 11 continues to produce as one of the league's best route runners, racking up 752 yards in just 10 games last season and serving as a reliable target for Herbert and the Chargers offense.

Walder includes some of the defensive leaders as the team's core as well in James and Bosa.

James is coming off another stellar season in 2022, earning Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as one of the leaders of the defense. Bosa however, missed a chunk of the year due to injury, so the full potential of the defense was never realized fully.

But Walder says despite missing some time last year, don't underestimate Bosa.

Walder wrote:

Bosa is overshadowed by his brother, Nick, in San Francisco, but don't sleep on him as a superstar edge rusher. Over the past four seasons, Bosa's 23-percent pass rush win rate at edge ranks fifth in the league -- two spots better than his brother.

To read Walder's full rankings, click here.

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