Post 514 – NFL Draft Needs: Los Angeles Chargers

Boy, do my fingers almost type San Diego, instead of Los Angeles. Anyway, the Chargers pick sixth in the draft after finishing 5-11. They are in the same situation as the team drafting before them: looking for a quarterback with the exit of long-time star Philip Rivers. I will have more needs than I would normally have, due to the fact many of their top players could become free agents next year. 

The Chargers have all of their draft picks with each of their own picks, a total of seven. 

I list the needs below, including major, for depth, and areas they are unlikely to look at. I may add categories for a particular situation.  

Major Needs (No Particular Order): 

Quarterback: The Chargers begin a new era in a new stadium and with a new quarterback. This is the first year since 2005 that Philip Rivers is not starting for the Chargers, starting every game for them over fourteen years. Rivers and the Chargers parted ways in the off-season; Tyrod Taylor is their starting quarterback and his backup is Easton Stick, a second-round pick last year. Like Miami with the pick before them, they are searching for a quarterback. Justin Herbert has been chosen here in many mock drafts, but the Dolphins are reported to be interested in him, which would leave Tua Taagovailoa being available. Rumors have the Chargers being in love with Jordan Love – no pun intended; well, just a little. We will find out on April 23. 

Running Back: Austin Ekeler may have a bigger role in the offense, now that Melvin Gordon signed with the Broncos in free agency. Ekeler rushed for over 500 to go with over 900 receiving yards and with Gordon gone, he has the potential for more. Justin Jackson is the only other back on the roster with Troymaine Pope being unsigned. They will pick a back somewhere for depth, but I don’t expect it to be early. 

Wide Receiver: The Lightning Bolts have a very good pair of receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Allen has quietly become one of the game’s best receivers with 3,000 receiving yards in the last three years and Williams had a breakout year with 1,000 yards and 20.4 yards-per-reception. The problem is neither has blazing speed, there isn’t much after them, and Allen is one of several top Chargers who can be a free agent next year. Andre Patton is the top returning backup and Darius Jennings was signed as a free agent, while rookie free agents Jason Moore and Jason Moore were on the roster last year. Picking someone after the first round is possible for depth or in case Allen leaves. And there are a large number of good wideouts available, especially some who can stretch the field.

Tight End: Hunter Henry is very good and had his best season after missing the entire 2018 regular season with a knee injury. He recently had a franchise tag placed on him when he became a free agent and with several top teammates possibly being free agents, something has to give. Virgil Green is the top reserve and he started when Henry missed most of 2018. The others on the roster are Andrew Vollert and Stephen Anderson. While they don’t have a present need, they could use a pick here for insurance should Henry be elsewhere in 2021. 

Offensive Line: This unit struggled and changes have been made and will probably continue. The Chargers added Trai Turner to play right guard in a trade with Carolina for left tackle Russell Okung; Turner has been one of the game’s best guards in recent years and will be 27 by opening day. Bryan Bulaga was signed in free agency to play right tackle after ten productive years in Green Bay. Mike Pouncey has been the center the past two years and a very good one, but he missed much of last year with a neck injury, he has not been cleared to play yet, his future is in question, and his contract expires in 2021. Scott Quessenberry filled in for Pouncey and enters his third season. Dan Feeney at is the incumbent at left guard and in reserve is Forrest Lamp, a former #1 pick, whose career has been sidetracked by injuries. Michael Schofield was the right guard, but is unsigned and unlikely to return with the addition of Turner. Left tackle is the biggest question mark with Okung leaving. Last year’s third round pick, Trey Pipkins, is competing with Trent Scott. Sam Tevi was last year’s right tackle and he may also compete there. Left tackle help is needed and an interior lineman could also be added. 

Defensive Line: The Chargers have one of the better pair of ends in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but both can be free agents after this year. Reinforcements are needed in case one or both of them leave. The main reserve is Isaac Rochell and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu can also fill in here. Linval Joseph was signed to play one tackle, coming over from the Vikings, and that will be a plus against the run. Justin Jones is the other tackle and in reserve is Jerry Tillery, the top draft pick last year, who will challenge for more time. Also on the roster are Cortez Broughton and PJ Johnson, both seventh rounders last year – Johnson coming from Detroit. Damion Square and Sylvester Williams are unsigned free agents who were on the roster. A spare edge rusher should be considered in case Bosa or Ingram leave and a tackle could also be considered.    

Linebacker: This is the weak link of the Charger defense, not that it’s a bad unit. Middle backer Denzel Perryman has ability, but has missed time in each of his five seasons and his contract expires after the season, while Uchenna Nwosu needs to make a step up in his third season on the outside. Nick Vigil comes from Cincinnati as a free agent and he will see a lot of playing time as a possible replacement for Thomas Davis Sr, who left via free agency. The player who may take a leap forward in his second year is Drue Tranquill, who was an ace on special teams. Kyzir White is a hybrid linebacker/safety who may make more of an impact after his first full season and was on the field on passing downs. Emeke Egbule and Malik Jefferson are also on the roster. This position may be addressed, probably in the middle rounds. 


Cornerback: A very good group of corners are here, starting with starters Casey Heyward and Chris Harris, who came over from Denver as a free agent. Desmond King also does a good job playing the slot. Mike Davis started much of last year and Brandon Facyson had four starts. Also on the roster are Tevaughn Campbell and Quinton Meeks. The Chargers only intercepted 11 passes and will need to increase that mark. I don’t expect a pick here unless it’s in the late rounds. 

Safety: The Chargers will benefit from a return to health for Derwin James, who had an outstanding rookie campaign two years ago and missed much of last year. Rayshawn Jenkins is a starter and the team has high hopes for him. Also in the picture is Nasir Adderley, last year’s second round pick who missed much of his rookie year. Roderic Teamer impressed as an undrafted rookie and may have a future. I only see a safety being picked if it is for depth.  

*Information from various sources, including Pro-Football Reference, Sportac, and ESPN. 

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