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Will the Chargers Select a Linebacker in 2024 Draft?


Welcome to Part 6 of our 2024 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 NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah to break down the linebackers in this draft class. Jeremiah, who is also the color commentator for Chargers radio games, can be found on X/Twitter @MoveTheSticks for his analysis.

Chargers status at LB

Troy Dye, Daiyan Henley, Nick Niemann, Denzel Perryman

The Bolts linebacker room underwent a change during the offseason.

Both starters from a year ago are now on different teams, meaning there will be ample playing time up for grabs by the time Week 1 rolls around.

Nick Niemann and 2023 third-round pick Daiyan Henley return as the mainstays of the new-look group.

Niemann, who has been a special teams ace for most of his time with the Bolts, had some good performances in relief during the early part of 2023, while Henley saw some crucial game reps late in the year.

Chargers General Manager Joe Hortiz also brought in some outside additions to the position in Denzel Perryman and Troy Dye during the first part of free agency.

Perryman spent the first six seasons of his career with the Bolts and has played in 108 total games (88 starts). He now returns as the most experienced member of the group and the veteran presence.

Dye, meanwhile, will look to crack the rotation and get on the field on defense after being a special teams player for the most part of his career. He does have some solid experience in the middle of the defense however, as he has played 25 games.

"Some new old faces there with Denzel coming back. You've an interesting mix of guys there," Jeremiah said. "I like the holdover. I'm a Niemann guy, just from the instincts, he can run. Daiyan, I wanted to see more of him last year.

"I think it's a good, eclectic group that they have there," Jeremiah added. "I don't know if you can say they have one pure No. 1 that's the guy at linebacker, but they got a good collection of players."

Is LB a position of need?

Had the Bolts not added to the depth of the room, the situation could have looked a bit different by the time the draft rolls around.

But Jeremiah believes that although there's not a clear-cut No. 1 guy, the room is well-rounded enough after the additions to hold it down as is.

For Jeremiah, it's a good enough group to line up and play tomorrow.

The NFL Network analyst believes that while they could add to the position, it is not as high of a priority in the draft as other positions and they would be able to start with the group as is.

"I think they can line up and play tomorrow with what they have," Jeremiah said. "In terms of the priority of the position, what they need to accomplish from the draft, I don't think I would put that at the very top."

Key draft questions

1. How would you assess this year's linebacker class?

"So, so. Very similar to the running back class. I think there's a chance we see Edgerrin Cooper go in the first round, that might be the only one we could have going in the first round. But depth-wise, there's some intriguing guys. I think it's like the third, fourth round is kind of the sweet spot for the linebackers in this class."

2. Has the value of the linebacker position gone down over recent years?

"I think what helped the value of the position last year was seeing the Ravens and the Niners, who invested in off the ball linebackers be rewarded, two of the best defenses. I would say that was something that benefitted it."

Expert rankings

Jeremiah currently has three linebackers in his latest overall Top 50 list, while ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has none in his Top 25.

The Athletic's Dane Brugler has five linebackers in his most recent Top 100 list, with the highest coming in at No. 39 (Junior Colson).

Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus has five linebackers in the top 100 in their Big Board Rankings, with a highest of No. 27 (Payton Wilson).

Potential Chargers options

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

Cooper 2

School: Texas A&M | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 230 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 83 tackles (39 solo), 17.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery

Quick fact: A consensus All-American in 2023, Cooper led the Aggies defense in tackles. His 17.0 tackles for loss led the SEC and tied for sixth among Power 5 conferences.


School: Michigan | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 238 pounds

2023 stats: 15 games (15 starts); 95 tackles (44 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, 2 passes defensed

Quick fact: Colson, a two-time All-Big Ten selection during his career, was an integral part of Michigan's National Championship win in 2023. He appeared in 43 games with 36 starts throughout his Michigan career.

P. Wilson

School: NC State | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 233 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 138 tackles (69 solo), 17.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, 3 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries

Quick fact: Wilson was stellar in his final season with the Wolfpack, winning the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) and the Bednarik Award (nation's top defensive player). He became the fourth unanimous All-American in school history.

Trotter Jr

School: Clemson | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 228 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 88 tackles (54 solo), 15.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, one touchdown

Quick fact: Trotter became Clemson's first multi All-American since 1999 after leading the Tigers in tackles and tackles for loss. He finished his career as one of only 14 FBS players in the last 20 seasons to record at least 10 sacks, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and multiple pick-sixes.


School: North Carolina | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-1½ | Wt: 234 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 121 tackles (64 solo), 11.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 1 interception, 5 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries

Quick fact: Gray was a 2023 First-Team All-ACC selection in his final collegiate season. He was one of just two players to surpass the 120-tackle mark.


School: Texas | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 240 pounds

2023 stats: 14 games (14 starts); 101 tackles (46 solo), 10.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 2 interception, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Quick fact: A First-Team All-Big 12 selection during his senior season, Ford was the first Longhorn with back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since 2011. His four interceptions during the 2022 season tied the school record.

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