Perfect Picks 2023: Los Angeles Chargers

By Lee Wakefield

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 Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.

We will highlight four players that could help each team. This will feature picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper. 

Round 1 - Darnell Washington (Tight End, Georgia)

Even before his combine performance, I believed that Darnell Washington was one of the most unique prospects that we’ve seen coming out of college in a long time.

In terms of the measurables, we have an absolute unicorn on our hands; Washington stands at 6’6, tips the scales at 264 lbs, has 34” arms, and on Saturday, he ran a 4.65 second 40-yard-dash. Not to mention this rumoured body fat percentage of around 11%! 

Washington will enter the NFL and immediately be a top-10 blocking tight end and with catch-and-run abilities like the one below from the week 1 matchup against Oregon this past season, the ceiling seems almost limitless.

The Chargers need an all-round tight end, who can take their offense to the next level by affecting both the run and pass games. Washington can do so by being a violent and dynamic blocker when opening up holes in the run game, and also by being an athletic target with YAC-ability for Justin Herbert and new OC Kellen Moore.

Some detractors may point to Washington’s lack of college production and say this pick is a reach, to that, I’d point to Dawson Knox’s leap from college to NFL and also remind them of the presence of a certain Brock Bowers on the Bulldog’s roster.

Round 2 - Trey Palmer (Wide Receiver, Nebraska)

If there’s one thing that the Chargers’ receiving corp lacked last season, and lacks in its general makeup, it’s speed, game-breaking, take-the-top-off-the-defense speed.

One thing to jumps off the screen when you watch Nebraska’s Trey Palmer is that he can move!

Palmer has been fast for a while; he clocked in a 10.4 second 100m time in high school, at the Senior Bowl he was measured as the fastest player in Mobile at 21.15mph, and in Indianapolis, Palmer ran 4.33 in the 40.


Last year in his only year in Nebraska, after transferring in from LSU, Palmer amassed 1,118 all-purpose yards and 9 touchdowns, so he’s coming off a nice year especially doing so for a team whose record was 4-8.

Adding Palmer to Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and his namesake, Josh, in the wide receiver room, as well as Austin Ekeler and courtesy of this mock draft, Darnell Washington, gives Justin Herbert targets at all levels of the field in 2023.

Mid Round Gem - Adetomiwa Adebawore (Defensive Line, Northwestern)

The Bolts need a succession plan and depth at the edge position. They need to replace impending free agent, Kyle Van Noy, who is likely not back with the team in 2023, and also implement some forward planning for when Khalil Mack is no longer donning powder blue.

Adetomiwa “Tomi” Adebewore can fulfil the depth role before ascending to being Joey Bosa’s sidekick in the coming years.

Another elite combine performer with exceptional explosivity and long arms, Adedawore is a rusher who can affect the game in multiple ways. The Northwestern product has 9.5 sacks, 17.5 TFLs, 4 forced fumbles, 4 pass deflections, and an interception in the past couple of seasons.

Although Adebawore is a little on the short side, he has 10.5” hands and arms that are a touch under 34” long, so he has the leverage advantage but also the reach to cause offensive linemen issues. That said, that squatty stature could mean he can also be effective inside, where he spent some time at the Senior Bowl and could play as a full-time DT at the next level.

Late Round Sleeper - Roschon Johnson (Running Back, Texas)

Austin Ekeler is an elite running back.

He’s one of the best receiving backs in the league and is pound-for-pound, one of the strongest players in the NFL, but one thing he is not is a three-down back.

Last offseason when the Chargers drafted Isaiah Spiller, Ekeler threw the gauntlet down to the young backs on the roster and challenged them to take snaps off him. Ekeler wants to work alongside a productive runner who can spell him in order to keep him as fresh and efficient as possible.

The Chargers have drafted a day 3 running back in each of the last three drafts, with little-to-no success in finding the Robin to Ekeler’s Batman. Until they hit on one, there’s no reason to keep spinning that particular wheel, which is where Roschon Johnson comes in.

Ranking at #26 on Bruce Feldman’s 2022 Freak List, Johnson is another elite athlete that I am adding to the Chargers roster. Johnson has size at 6’2, 223 lbs, but also the ability to run away from defenders. He should be able to give Los Angeles their missing juice from a bigger back between the tackles, but he can also catch a few footballs too.

How they could have used such a player to salt the game away against Jacksonville in their humiliating playoff defeat on Wildcard weekend?

Draft In Full:

Round 1 – Darnell Washington (Tight End, Georgia)

Round 2 – Trey Palmer (Wide Receiver, Nebraska)

Round 3 – Adetomiwa Adebawore (Defensive Line, Northwestern)

Round 4 – Riley Moss (Cornerback, Iowa)

Round 5 – Roschon Johnson (Running Back, Texas)

Round 6 – McClendon Curtis (Offensive Guard, Chattanooga)

Round 7 – Jeremy Banks (Linebacker, Tennessee)

Lee Wakefield

NFL Draft Contributor

Lee Wakefield has covered the NFL and College Football for a number of publications, including Full 10 Yards & First And 10. Chargers Sufferer. Currently a contributor for With THe First Pick. @Wakefield90 on twitter.