The Los Angeles Chargers are always one of the more exciting teams to draft for when doing mock drafts because, depending on how the board falls, you could justify six or so different players. Most evaluators would say the Chargers' biggest need is at offensive tackle, where they currently have Trey Pipkins set to protect Justin Herbert’s blind side. But what if the team doesn’t value the next group of tackles after Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater as highly as some in the media might?
Los Angeles could easily pivot to addressing their cornerback position, as the team still needs to address the loss of Casey Hayward. That being said, what if Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn are both off the board by No. 13? I would be surprised, but it’s certainly possible. In the event that both tackles and corners are gone by No. 13, it is likely that either Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith could be there and I could make the case for selecting them if they are the best player available.
Again, with a team like the Chargers who have their quarterback in place, the draft can go many ways. Below is a seven-round mock draft for the Chargers, and this could look very similar to what they do come draft weekend.
Round 1 (No. 13 overall): Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
In this scenario, all of Sewell, Slater, Surtain, and Horn were off the board. If this happens on April 29, the Chargers would love to trade down, but of course would need a trade partner to do so. It came down to Jenkins, Smith, and Samuel Cosmi, and in the end, I’m going with Jenkins. His power and anchor are both outstanding and I don’t have many concerns at all about him switching over to the left side.
Round 2 (No. 47 overall): Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
Los Angeles got pretty good production out of lower-level receivers such as Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson, but they can definitely get better at the No. 3 receiver spot. Brown’s skill set perfectly complements that of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, and he can be the team’s true deep threat and field-stretcher. I can already imagine Herbert launching bombs to Brown on vertical routes.
Round 3 (No. 77 overall): Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
Cornerback is a major need for this Chargers team as they really only have one outside corner you feel good about on their roster currently in Michael Davis. Chris Harris is predominantly an inside-only defender and is already getting up there in age as well. Adding corners who can hold their own on the outside is of major importance, especially in Brandon Staley’s defense which runs multiple coverages. Melifonwu is a physically gifted player who offers very good size, length, and athleticism. He has good feel in man and zone coverage and would be in a position for a major role in year one with the Bolts.
Round 3 (No. 97 overall): Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
The Chargers need some pass rush help in a big way. The team opted to not bring back Melvin Ingram and even before that the team didn’t generate a ton of pressure on the quarterback outside of Joey Bosa. Turner is one of my favorite edge defenders in this class and offers very good first-step quickness, power, and length. He plays with a tremendous motor who generates a ton of pressure late in the downs.
Round 4 (No. 118 overall): Caden Sterns, S, Texas
No team ran more split safety looks than the Rams defense under coach Staley last year. Conversely, the Chargers ran single-high safety looks as much as anyone in the league last year under Gus Bradley, so safety will certainly be a need. If I am the Chargers, I do not want Derwin James playing a split safety role and having him 10-12 yards away from the line of scrimmage. James needs to be played near the line because that’s where his skill set truly shines. Because of that, the Chargers will need a safety who can play split zone and be comfortable playing the high post. Sterns is an excellent athlete and a very good coverage player in the backend.
Round 5 (No. 159 overall): Sadarius Hutcherson, G, South Carolina
The Chargers have done a good job adding along the offensive line this offseason, but there is still work to be done. Hutcherson is a versatile offensive lineman who has experience at guard and tackle, but his best position is ultimately inside. Hutcherson is a strong player at the point of attack who mauls people in the run game. He has above average athleticism reaching the second level and on pulls. In the passing game, he has a strong anchor while also having the lateral mobility to mirror in tight quarters.
Round 6 (No. 185 overall): Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
I love Austin Ekeler. I think he is an outstanding player who can be a difference maker in a specific role. However, I don't love him as three-down back and he proved last year that he is prone to the occasional injury. I also think the talent behind him can be upgraded. Chris Evans is a wild card in this draft as he has played very little football over the last two years. Evans is a well-built runner with very good contact balance and lateral explosion. He has a chance to be a nice late-round find.
Round 6 (No. 198 overall): K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn
Los Angeles will need to replace Denzel Perryman, who they lost in free agency, and Britt is a player who shares that same physicality. Britt has very good size with above average athleticism. He would be a very good player to bring in and compete to play alongside Kenneth Murray at middle linebacker. At worst, Britt projects as a strong special teams coverage player, and that’s really what you want very late in the draft.
Round 7 (No. 241 overall): Trevon Grimes, WR. Florida
I know I already addressed receiver, but the Chargers may need to begin thinking about a life without Williams depending on whether or not he earns himself an extension. I’m shocked to see Grimes still on the board this late in the draft. I love his skill set and think he is an excellent route-runner with very good hands and ball skills. He can find his way to stick on an NFL roster.