Time for Chargers to address defense in this year's draft

COSTA MESA, Calif. – The Los Angeles Chargers waited until the fourth round to select a defensive player in last year’s draft, taking University of Miami safety Rayshawn Jenkins.

Because of that, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn joked that he would have to pacify defensive coordinator Gus Bradley by taking a defensive player early in this year’s draft.

“At some point, I plan to get somebody on defense,” Lynn joked after Day 2 of the draft. “My defensive coaches are about to jump off the building.”

The Chargers selected receiver Mike Williams with the No. 7 overall pick in the first round, followed by offensive lineman Forrest Lamp in the second round and Dan Feeney in the third round.

As reader Tim Mathews asks below, I believe there’s a good chance that Lynn follows through on his promise to Bradley in April.

A handful of game-changing defensive playmakers will be available in the first round this year, including Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Florida State safety Derwin James, Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea and Alabama defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s big board.

The last time the Chargers drafted a defensive player in the first round they did pretty well, selecting Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa at No. 3 overall in the 2016 draft.

Now, let’s get to a couple more questions from this week’s mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: I think that player for the Chargers in 2018 could be defensive tackle Isaac Rochell. Selected in the seventh round of last year’s draft out of Notre Dame, Bradley likes Rochell’s length and motor as an interior pass rusher.

At 6-3 and 280 pounds, Rochell was active for three games last season, finishing with four combined tackles and a sack. Bradley compared Rochell to pass-rusher Jason Jones, whom he had while with the Seattle Seahawks.

“His length helped us out a little bit,” Bradley said. “I think that’s intriguing for us, if he can continue to build on that and be that inside rusher that provides some length, that’s a good thing.

“He’s a little bit unique because his size and his length are more like a left end -- a traditional left end. Some guys, you move inside and see how they are.”

@eric_d_williams: The Chargers need help at both defensive line and linebacker, so it just depends on the evaluation of the coaches in collaboration with the scouts and how free agency and the draft goes in terms of player acquisition.

The Chargers played a healthy dose of five and six defensive back packages because of their struggles at linebacker in terms of health and production, so bringing in a linebacker who can cover and tackle is important.

However, Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget are getting older up front, and the Chargers have to look at finding the eventual replacement for both players. Overall, they just need to play more consistent against the run as a defensive unit, including the secondary.