Chargers’ East-West Shrine Bowl Notebook: Day 2 Defensive Lineman Standouts

Recapping Day 2 of the East-West Shrine Bowl.

LAS VEGAS – The second day of practice at UNLV’s Fertitta Center featured a similar schedule as Friday’s session. The only difference was the West team, coached by the Patriots’ staff, occupied the early portion of practice. The East team then followed, coached by the Atlanta Falcons’ staff.

Each team went 90 minutes, completing individual drills, one-on-ones and team period.

After evaluating the wide receiver group on Saturday, I spent most of the second day of practice following the defensive line group.

Here are the defensive lineman that separated themselves on Day 2:

Stephen F. Austin EDGE BJ Thompson

BJ Thompson didn’t tip the scales at his weigh in for having the sturdiest frame, but he’s made the most of his opportunity on the field. Measuring in at 6’5″ and 238 pounds, Thompson has a ton of length. His biggest question to be answered this week will be how his strength holds up, particularly in the run game.

During one-on-one drills, Thompson flashed a spin move more than once that propelled him into the backfield to win his reps. It become quite evident that his speed was a mismatch for the offensive tackles he went up against. In the team period phase, his pass rush success carried over and was marginally efficient in the run game. Thompson could rise up draft boards by the end of the week if he continues to hold his own in run support.

Florida EDGE Brenton Cox

After being dismissed from Florida before the end of his senior year, Brenton Cox entered this week with many questions surrounding his character away from the football field. As teams complete their due diligence on Cox’s off-the-field matters, a productive week of practice could help mask any personal flaws.

Cox was a handful for offensive tackles to slow down in every phase of practice. He showed his get-off is plenty fast to make his opposition vulnerable, while also winning reps with strength. If Cox maintains what he’s showed thus far, he could move up draft boards as long as teams are confident in getting to understand what led to his early departure from Florida. Cox has looked like the top edge rusher at the East-West Shrine Bowl through two days of practices.

Toledo DL Desjuan Johnson 

Looking for some versatility, Toledo’s Desjuan Johnson flashed when rushing off the edge and from the interior. He had his swim move working, slipping past blocks on a regular occurrence. His hand usage was superior, consistently battling through blockers to show the juice he can bring from a pass rusher.

At 6’2″ and 267 pounds, Johnson can find himself between edge rusher and defensive tackle in the NFL. He recorded 5.5 sacks in his final year at Toledo, but has sparked optimism for what can come about at the next level regarding his development for inflicting pressure. For a player coming out of the Mid-American Conference, who didn’t face Power 5 competition regularly, Johnson has proved that he belongs through the early part of Shrine Bowl week.

How defensive line is a need for the Chargers

EDGE: The Chargers possess one of, if not the best, edge rushing duo in the NFL with Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. But what they need is a third edge rusher that can manufacture consistent pressure when Mack or Bosa come off the field or in the event they miss time with injury. Second-year player Chris Rumph took strides during the 2022 season, but he still remains a work in progress from a pass rushing standpoint. Surely a rookie could perhaps be another project like Rumph. But the Chargers just simply aren’t deep enough at the position to  ignore edge rusher in the draft like they did one year ago.DL:The Chargers interior defensive line features Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson as the team’s two starters. They also have fifth-round pick from last year’s draft, Otito Ogbonnia, who showed promise as a player that can anchor the middle. However, as Morgan Fox and Christian Covington are pending free agents, the Chargers will need to look at ways to supplement their depth at this area of the roster. A draft selection on Day 3 seems possible to target a defensive lineman.

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Read more from Charger Report:

Chargers QB Justin Herbert Undergoes Left Shoulder Surgery, Expected to be Cleared For Offseason ProgramChargers’ East-West Shrine Bowl Notebook: Day 1 Wide Receiver StandoutsChargers: East-West Shrine Bowl PreviewChargers Complete Interviews With Five Offensive Coordinator Candidates as Coaching Search Heats UpChargers’ Offseason Checklist: Top Positions to Target

Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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