Chargers: Kenneth Murray takes defense to another level in 2020

Kenneth Murray can help take the Los Angeles Chargers defense to another level in 2020.

The Los Angeles Chargers have slowly but surely been assembling a defense that is absolutely loaded with top-tier talent through both the NFL Draft and free agency.

Looking at the Chargers’ projected defensive depth chart for the 2020 season, it’s clear that this team is built to suffocate opposing offenses and the Chargers’ offense may not have to do much if this unit can stay healthy throughout the 2020 season.

Up front, the Chargers have a fantastic duo of edge players in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. On the interior defensive line, the Chargers have nice depth with veteran Linval Joseph coming over from the Vikings along with 2019 first-round pick Jerry Tillery hopefully taking a step forward in 2020.

Derwin James is the top playmaker in a talented secondary which added Chris Harris Jr. to Casey Hayward and Desmond King this offseason.

This team has high draft picks at every level of the defense providing depth and upside for the future, but one position group that’s going to take this unit to the next level in 2020 is the off-ball linebacker position.

The Chargers have the versatility to play with either three or four down linemen, so when they have two linebackers on the field in 2020, expect to see potential breakout star Drue Tranquill and rookie Kenneth Murray causing problems for opposing offenses.

The presence of Tranquill and Murray is going to be critical for the Chargers in 2020. This is a team that already ranked top five in 2019 against the pass, but they were near the bottom of the league in turnovers forced.

Derwin James’ injury and absence contributed to that, so with him fully healthy and the entire unit playing at 100 percent, it’s going to be tough to get anything going against this Chargers defense.

The pass rushers up front are already capable of winning one-on-one matchups, but the Chargers now have a playmaker in Murray — their second of two first-round picks in 2020 — to come in and really play to his strengths as a three-down player.

Murray’s greatest strength as a defensive player? Attacking the line of scrimmage with relentless speed.

In three seasons at Oklahoma, Murray racked up 325 total tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and six pass breakups. Playing 40 games, he averaged about eight tackles and almost one tackle for loss every game.

Drue Tranquill will be able to handle the primary coverage duties from the linebacker position for the Chargers, and while Murray will certainly be asked to do some of that as well, he is going to probably be used a lot more around the line of scrimmage in 2020.

Along with former second-round pick Denzel Perryman, the Chargers — if healthy — have a linebacker group that can play the run well and give them options on third down.

Murray’s presence out there along with other freaky athletes like Drue Tranquill, Derwin James, and the guys up front for the Chargers, is going to make this team feel like it’s got 12 or 13 guys out there at a time.

Without Murray, the Chargers’ linebacker group is just “OK” and they have enough to get by, but with him in the fold, their team speed is upgraded, their third down defense is upgraded, and they have too many guys for teams to account for individually to be able to consistently double team players like Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

Next: 2021 two-round mock draft update

Murray’s impact on the Chargers is going to be substantial, especially if all of the other veteran players around him can stay healthy.

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