Perfect Picks 2024: Los Angeles Chargers

By Lee Wakefield

Picking at number 5 overall after a 5-12 season wasn’t in the preseason script for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bolts were supposed to be all in and were supposed to make a run at dethroning the Chiefs in the AFC West.

Pundits and media analysts will tell you that they had one of the most loaded rosters in the league and that they were well-equipped to do just that. However, that proved to be far from the truth. Fast forward to present day and things look very different to 12 months ago.

This is now a Jim Harbaugh led organisation. The Chargers really need to hit on a bunch of perfect picks in April’s draft.

Round 1 - Olu Fashanu, Offensive Tackle, Penn State

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Allow me to start with a caveat – I don’t think that the Chargers will want to take their pick at number 5 overall. I think new General Manager, Joe Hortiz, would love to make a trade down to accumulate further draft capital so that he and Jim Harbaugh can rebuild the roster in their image.

A trade down to the 9-15 range would be perfect; it should allow them to pick up at least a couple of day 2 picks and still pick up an impactful player for 2024.

However, if they stand pat and pick at 5, the perfect pick would be to take Penn State’s offensive tackle, Olu Fashanu.

Fashanu is a young prospect having only turned 21-years old in December of last year. However, his level of play marks him out as one of the best offensive line prospects available this spring.

Fashanu is a people mover in the run game, with big upside as a pass protector, which are exactly the characteristics which I believe will mark him out to Hortiz and Harbaugh.

Hortiz came to Los Angeles from Baltimore, where they have always prioritised and invested in their offensive line. And anyone who has spent a couple of games watching a Jim Harbaugh-led football team knows he will want to run the ball and be dominant in the trenches.

Fashanu gives the Chargers a high-end pair of tackles opposite Rashawn Slater to protect Justin Herbert and to open up rush lanes for whoever is running the ball for the Bolts. Two huge needs for this team.

Round 2 - Kris Jenkins, IDL, Michigan

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Carrying on from the round one selection, I expect the Chargers to invest heavily and invest early on both sides of the line of scrimmage. That investment carries on with a player who is personally one of my favourites in the 2024 class, and Michigan Man, Kris Jenkins.

For my money, Jenkins is one of, if not the best run-defending interior defensive linemen in the draft. Los Angeles ranked 28th against the run in 2023, giving up 362.9 yards per game. This issue is something that persisted throughout the Brandon Staley era, despite investment via the draft and free agency with the likes of Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Otito Ogbonnia brought in to stem the flow. Investment that they did not see a return in under the previous Head Coach/General Manager combo.

Jenkins is rugged, fundamentally solid and aware interior defender. He’s always got his eyes in the right place, he’s able to engage a ball-carrier through contact and has requisite size and anchor to not get displaced even when being double-teamed.

What keeps Jenkins out of the round one conversation is that he’s not a great pass rusher. However, that sentence really should end with “yet”, because Jenkins flashes as a pass rusher at times and gets streaky, which shows his potential to grow in this area.

What’s more, his pass rushing chops don’t come from him just bulldozing forward with a bullrush, which he can do occasionally, but his penetration comes via lateral quickness and improving hand-fighting techniques.

If Jenkins becomes a reliable interior pass rusher, which then matches his proficiency as a run defender, then this sort of selection in the early second round begins to look like a bargain very quickly! 

Mid Round Gem - Xavier Thomas, Edge, Clemson

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Another pick, another player who will affect the game close to the line of scrimmage. Xavier Thomas is one of my favourite edge rushers in this class. An experienced, sixth-year Senior, which is probably one reason why I could select him in the fifth round, Thomas has been on the rise recently due to his performances at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Thomas is somewhat of an undersized edge defender, measuring at just under 6’2 and 244 lbs, however he has room to pack on further weight when he arrives in the league. Thomas is someone who I believe Ben Herbert, the Chargers’ new Strength and Conditioning Coach, would love to get his hands on in particular. 

On the field, Thomas has intriguing bend and flexibility in his hips and ankles, which along with his shorter stature, allow him to dip underneath tackles before turning the corner towards the quarterback.

Thomas projects as an asset as a third pass rusher in his early years whilst he works on his body and refines his game, before potentially stepping into a starting role later on in his career.

Even if he never hits his full potential, a pass rusher with his speed and work ethic will always be a valuable depth piece for any team.

Late Round Sleeper - Renardo Green, Florida State

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For all my talk of being a line of scrimmage team, and Jim Harbaugh will absolutely demand that the Chargers are tough and physical up front, this team also needs a starting corner to play alongside Asante Samuel Jr. in 2024.

Corners under contract, who have played regular season snaps, outside of Samuel are former-seventh round pick, Deane Leonard and starting nickel Ja’Sir Taylor who is very much a nickel only player.

This team needs help in the secondary.

Renardo Green is my favourite late-round corner who has the potential to be one of the steals of the draft.

Green is a press-man corner who had 13 career pass breakups at Florida State last season, he has length, fundamentally sound footwork and fluid movement skills.

His biggest knock is that he only has one interception in college, so he can’t be counted on to create splash plays. However, he does get his hands in the football to bat it away, so potential for growth in that area is there. Another strength of his is that he is far from afraid to come down and help in run support – Another Harbaugh non-negotiable. 

Los Angeles had five personnel staff attend Frisco for The Shine Bowl, so much like Xavier Thomas, they’d have taken notes of Renardo Green showing out at the All-Star meet. After his performance there, we might actually see Green rise up the board in the coming weeks which could take him out of the late round sleeper category.

Draft In Full:

Round 1 – Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State 

Round 2 – Kris Jenkins, IDL, Michigan

Round 3 – Sedrick Van Pran, OC, Georgia

Round 4 – Jared Wiley, TE, TCU

Round 5 – Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson 

Round 6 – Renardo Green, CB Florida State

Round 7 – Rasheen Ali, RB, Marshall 

Round 7 – Mason McCormick, IOL, South Dakota State

Feature Image Credit: New York Post

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.