NFL San Diego Chargers

5 Irreplaceable San Diego Chargers Players for the 2013 NFL Season

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5 Irreplaceable San Diego Chargers Players for the 2013 Season

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There are several different aspects of a player that can make someone irreplaceable. A particular player can be an outstanding leader in the locker room, he can put up amazing statistics week after week to help the team win games, or the team could just have a really shaky depth chart beyond said player.

For every NFL team, no matter how many victories they accumulate during the course of a season, there are certain guys that would just be flat-out impossible to replace. The San Diego Chargers are no exception with a core group of guys that are pillars of the franchise and absolute studs out on the field.

After a rather significant roster overhaul this offseason, it might seem like those guys are few and far between heading into the 2013 season. Even though the Bolts purged a lot of their longtime veterans in order to take a step in a younger direction and turn things around, the team still has some key cogs that it could not do without.

As recently as a few years ago, this list for the Chargers would have been primarily offensive players with the team having one of the best offenses in the league on a regular basis. What really stood out while compiling this list is that those days are gone. This team has now made the complete 180 and become a defense first squad.

It still takes points to win in this league which might explain why the Chargers have been down on their luck recently. This season under their new front office and head coach could be the year where things turn back in the right direction.

Here are the 5 irreplaceable players that they will need to stay healthy and perform if they hope to improve upon their recent mediocrity in 2013.

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5. Donald Butler - Linebacker

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Now as a true leader on the defense, Donald Butler will be assuming the role of the departed Takeo Spikes this season. Even last season Butler was the primary defensive leader calling the shots with Spikes’ career winding down, but this year he will be thrust into more of a vocal leadership role. Look for this still just 24 year-old tackling machine to really thrive in this new position with the team.

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4. Philip Rivers - Quarterback

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly it would be foolish to make an irreplaceable list for the Chargers and not include their man under center. Philip Rivers may be coming off of a few difficult years of late, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still capable as a franchise signal caller. This is a make-or-break season for Rivers at 31 years of age with just two years remaining on his monster contract signed back in 2009. Even though the depth chart is wobbly behind him presently, the Chargers could turn the page and draft a quarterback next season to be their future if he continues to struggle.

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3. Antonio Gates - Tight End

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries have really plagued the career of Antonio Gates. He hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule since 2009 and his production has struggled as a result. The former Kent State hoops star is still a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses with the ability to box out his way to touchdowns in the red zone. San Diego is a much better team with him on the field than without him, and with Randy McMichael now gone behind him, it becomes even more important that Gates stay healthy in 2013.

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2. Corey Liuget - Defensive End

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt Corey Liuget is poised for a breakout season in 2013. This kid has just been getting better and better with the Bolts, and he enters this year having dropped eight pounds to get even quicker which should be an alarming thought for potential opponents. Liuget finished second to only the lauded J.J. Watt for deflected passes by a non-defensive back in 2012. Look for his dominance to only increase as this 23 year-old continues to blossom on the Bolts defensive line.

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1. Eric Weddle - Safety

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It would be tough to rank anyone above Eric Weddle at this point in terms of importance to the Chargers. He does absolutely everything defensively and has since arriving in the league in 2007. His ability to come down in the box and play like a linebacker on one play and then drop down in the slot and cover the fastest guy on the field like a blanket on the next is unparalleled. Weddle is a pillar in the community and provides tremendous leadership in the locker room to this Chargers team. The idea of the San Diego defense without him on the field is truly a frightening thought.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.