5 Prospects To Watch At The Combine For The Chargers
The Chargers currently have seven picks in this upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. They have all of their picks, and as of right now have not made any trades to move spots. I recently wrote an article about the top free-agent targets for the Chargers this offseason. Bits of this article are going to reference that in case you hadn’t read it.
The draft analysis, like the free agent list, is going to be based on apparent needs and draft value of the players they might choose. Here are the top five prospects to watch at the combine as possible difference-makers for the Chargers in the next couple of seasons.
1. Round 1, Pick 6 – Justin Herbert, QB/Oregon
It’s no secret at this point that Phillip Rivers is not going to be around for this upcoming season. After an incredibly productive 16 seasons for the Chargers organization, Rivers has finally let father time get the best of him. The Chargers have been blessed for a long time having a future Hall of Famer under center, and now they’ve got a more than capable backup in Tyrod Taylor who has been successful for much worse teams in the past, at least holding the fort steady.
With the Bengals and Dolphins possibly looking to take a QB in the first round as well, it may be competitive at the top for the most important position. Burrow is most likely going to be the first overall pick but has been criticized for his arm strength and hand size during the combine.
Tua, who would have been the first overall pick, had a serious injury before his season eventually ended. The Lions could also sneak in and grab Tua to handcuff Matt Stafford as well.
While Tyrod holds the fort, there is a young man that should be groomed behind him. If the Chargers can get this guy, they shouldn’t hesitate. The Chargers could potentially have the last QB in the top half of the quarterback class, and this is a no-brainer.
Herbert was coming into this last season as the Heisman favorite, but for me, it was effectively ruined this season when forced with early reads and bootleg throws. Cristobal and Arroyo seemed to do everything they could to get the least out of Herbert as possible. At the same time, Herbert has elite physical size, just clocked in at 4.69 during his 40 yard-dash, can make every throw, and is an excellent locker room guy. The Chargers have the opportunity to keep their excellent fortune at QB running into the future.
2. Round 2, Pick 5 – Austin Jackson, OT/USC
Austin Jackson is a phenom. He could be a Pro-Bowler for years with the Chargers. In my free agent article, I identified tackle as a big hole for the Bolts. I had them grabbing a veteran that could play multiple positions on the line. I did that, so they could spend a big amount of draft capital on a guy that will be a difference-maker for years.
The position, plus skill guys being overvalued, will most likely drop Jackson into the early 2nd round. Jackson is an incredible athlete, and with some real work on his technique, he could be exactly what this organization has been missing for a long time.
3. Round 3, Pick 7 – Raekwon Davis, DT/Alabama
Every year at the seven big positions, there are always a few players who drop slightly because of injury or off-field issues, or even because they don’t think he’s versatile enough. A lot of times these guys end up being huge steals for franchises later on when the value is there.
Of the DT’s who’s might explode past their draft value, look for Raekwon Davis. Davis was an elite run-stuffer at Alabama and has physical gifts that are unheralded. The fact that he may only be valued as a run stopper shouldn’t let the Chargers overlook this kid. Rather it should put him higher up their draft board because a run-stopper who might overplay his value is exactly what they need. Especially when the position has been a struggle for years.
4. Round 4, Pick 6 – Scottie Phillips, RB/Ole Miss
The Phillips boys in the 4th and 5th rounds could be flip-flopped depending on how the draft shakes out. The Chargers have been linked back to Melvin Gordon after refusing to pay last season. Which makes sense, depending on how much it costs them, of course.
I said it in my last article, the ability to run the ball consistently is going to be what sets this offense up to have a steady floor. With a relatively weak RB class this year, Scottie Phillips stands out as the guy who fits the bill for the Chargers best. He’s one of the bigger backs in the draft pool and has shown an ability to run between the tackles and create yards after contact. To go get a guy who is a good first and second-down back with power, to compliment Austin Ekeler, could be what they need to not worry about Gordon coming back.
5. Round 5, Pick 5 – Jacob Phillips, LB/LSU
Jacob Phillips, like Davis and Scottie from earlier, could benefit from playing with a single track in mind. It allows the Chargers to grab guys later on with value who could fit what they’re looking for nicely.
A physical skillset that is insane, Phillips was known as an overall solid defender for the National Champs. Where he excelled though was in run defense, which incidentally is exactly what the Chargers have struggled with from their LB’s the last couple years. He’s got some work to do in coverage, but with guys like Perryman and Nwosu rounding him out, Phillips could be an excellent fit next to them and Davis while hopefully crushing running backs for years.