Perfect Picks: Los Angeles Chargers
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
Next up is the LA Chargers. They move into their new home this year, the SoFi stadium. They have largely struggled to capture the imagination of the Los Angeles market and are in desperate need of a reset to help. Let’s take a look at how this years draft could help them.
Round 1 - Pick 6 - Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
A big part of that rebuild is likely to be the Quarterback position. Jay Glazer broke the news that the Chargers and long-term incumbent Philip Rivers are set to part ways in the offseason. Although nothing is concrete as of yet, the likelihood is that a signal caller will be a major need.
If the Chargers attack the spot with their first selection Justin Herbert could be the man to replace Rivers. With Burrow and Tagovailoa likely off the board, Herbert appears to be the last starting calibre rookie QB. Herbert’s stock is on the rise. An impressive finale to his Oregon career in the Pac-12 championship game and a positive Senior Bowl experience have helped greatly, seemingly dispelling any worries over his quiet personality. Herbert offers a big arm and plenty of athletic ability to make plays off schedule. Could he be the spark the franchise needs?
Flex Pick - Pick 6 - Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Things can get choppy at the top of the draft. With three top-10 quarterbacks available it’s more than likely there could be a scramble to trade up. There is a chance that the Chargers get left empty handed. They could also target a QB in round 2 if they are comfortable, as they say they are, with Tyrod Taylor as a bridge next year.
Should that be the case the other position they need help at is offensive tackle. One of the big issues that Rivers’ has had in recent years is a lack of protection. Sam Tevi is underwhelming at right tackle and Russell Okung has had injury issues. One solution would be Iowa tackle Tristen Wirfs. Wirfs plays with intensity and a degree of nastiness that scouts love to see. In addition, he has the athleticism to get upfield and block (see below). Comfortable at right or left tackle he would offer a major upgrade.
Here’s an idea of Tristan Wirfs athleticism on Iowa’s first TD run. pic.twitter.com/g17iDNE5Ni— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) December 28, 2019
Round 2 - Pick 37 - Austin Jackson, OT, USC
NFL teams are desperate for offensive tackles. Most teams will be actively seeking reinforcements to their o-line this April. That need means that there could be an early rush at the spot at the top of the draft. The likes of Wirfs, Thomas, Wills and even Mekhi Becton shouldn’t last until day 2.
That means that when the Chargers are on the clock in round 2 their options could be sparse. With that in mind, they likely will have to draft a player with traits rather than the finished product. USC’s Austin Jackson fits that bill. He has plenty of athletic ability and is light on his feet. Unfortunately his shortcomings were well highlighted by Iowa’s AJ Epenesa. Jackson was too often overpowered and caught off balance. With development and refinement Jackson could become a serviceable NFL starter.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 133 - Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
The Chargers defense uses plenty of three safety looks. Adrian Phillips played as a safety that lined up as a de-facto linebacker and is due to hit free agency. Derwin James is elite at the position and can move around the formation. While Rayshawn Jenkins and Nasir Adderley will likely battle for the deep safety spot.
All things considered, they could target a physical safety to add depth to the position. Almost a perfect fit would be Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger. Dugger exploded onto the scene in Mobile and displayed speed, physicality and smarts lining up against elite opposition for the first time. It’s unlikely he will be available at this spot come April but he fits the mould of what the Chargers could be looking for.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 197 - Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
If the Chargers do move forward with a rookie signal caller they will want to give him as much help as possible. That includes giving him the weapons needed to succeed. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are an impressive duo but the receiving corps as a whole needs more depth.
With Herbert as the new QB in this situation I can see Antonio Gandy-Golden being the perfect compliment. Herbert’s arm strength is a major plus but his accuracy can be less consistent. The 6’4 Gandy-Golden has a large catch radius to couple with his penchant for the show-stopping grab. The perfect target for a rookie quarterback.
Draft in full
6. Justin Herbert (QB)
37. Austin Jackson (OT)
71. Noah Igbinoghene (CB)
102. Davon Hamilton (DT)
133. Kyle Dugger (S)
166. Jonah Jackson (G)
197. Antonio Gandy-Golden (WR)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com