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Chargers Draft Strategy Post Free Agency

The main bulk of Free Agency is over and now all eyes are towards the NFL draft. The Chargers were able to address many of the concerns throughout free agency to put together a more complete team. Everyone knows that it is impossible to go into the draft without major questions on the roster, it is the inevitable. The goal is to build as much as you can prior to the draft to put yourself in the position to draft the best player available. The question is, did the Chargers do enough to have that luxury?

The short answer is, probably not. I think the Chargers did an excellent job signing free agents to strengthen their defense. All of their resources went towards the defense, which is what I wanted and what the Chargers needed to do. However, because of this, now they are sitting with a major hole at right tackle. They could very well move former right tackle Matt Feiler over to play that spot again, maybe that was their plan all along but we don’t really know. The lack of clarity along the offensive line, after spending so many resources on that unit last year, has been a frustrating aspect of the Chargers offseason.

The team ultimately has 10 picks this year, many of them coming in the later rounds due to 4 compensatory picks. There are 3 ways I could see the Chargers playing the draft, I will break it down below with likely first round selections that I would be happy to see and how they can fill out their roster.

1. Get the best player in the trenches

I am calling this the smart/safe approach. I am cheating a little on this one, this is more dependent on how the draft is playing out and who is available. If the Chargers are lucky enough to be sitting at pick #17 and see one of Charles Cross or Jermaine Johnson, I would sprint to the podium. I don’t think it is likely that either are on the board but you never know what kind of madness will happen on draft night.

I believe Zion Johnson will be on the board when the Chargers are on the clock – he is currently the most popular mock draft selection according to NFL Mock Draft Database. He would be an immediate starter at one of the guard spots and could allow the team to take advantage of the tackle flexibility that Feiler offers. Trevor Penning has lost some luster on Chargers Twitter but he would be an immediate starter at right tackle which would let Feiler stay at left guard where he excelled last year. Everyone’s favorite mountain, Jordan Davis, could also be on the board and could be the final piece in the drastic makeover of the Chargers run defense.

Ultimately, Brandon Staley has said over and over again that they want to ensure that the Chargers are a trench team and the best way to do that is to continually invest premium resources along the front lines. Even if we might disagree with the particular selection on draft night, Chargers fans should be pleased with the process – if the pick is ultimately a trench pick.

2: Get Your Playmaker

I am calling this the fun approach, and it is also the approach that I would go. Number 1 on my wish list of players that I feel are truly realistic to make it to 17 is Jameson Williams. Yes, I know that he is coming off an ACL tear a few months ago, and that there are bigger holes on the roster, but I do not care. If this offseason across the NFL has shown us anything, it is that receivers are beginning to become as valued as ever.

The Chargers have two receivers locked up on large but manageable deals compared to what others are signing for, but it is important to look towards the future. Williams was believed by many to be a top 10 pick and the first receiver off the board before his injury. Seeing how quickly people recover these days, I am not worried about an ACL tear. Williams is my guy and who I would draft here, but there are a few other play makers I would be more than happy to see the Chargers select. I would even consider trading up a few picks if it means that they get their guy.

One more player that I would highlight for this section who is a bit safer of a pick is Chris Olave. The former Ohio State Buckeye standout is a nuanced and versatile route runner. While he doesn’t have that extra gear that his former teammate Williams does, Olave is a certified burner and would dramatically upgrade the Chargers ability to access the deeper parts of the field, which would free up space for all of the Chargers’ other options.

While these picks are probably more of a “luxury” than anything, and it would put the Chargers in a bit of a bind when it comes to the offensive line but this becoming more of a weapons based league every single year.

3. Trade Back With A quarterback or wide receiver needy team

I’m going out on a limb and calling this the most likely to happen option. The Chargers have the luxury of sitting in front of a few potentially quarterback needy teams. While this quarterback class isn’t all that great, the financial value of potentially getting a franchise starter outside of the top 15 will be enticing to several of them. The Steelers, Titans and Lions could all be potentially looking to find some developmental options.

There are also several teams who will be looking to find their own playmaker and the mid-to-late teens are historically a hot spot to find them. The Chargers might really like Olave, but it’s also possible that the Packers, Bills, or Cowboys do as well. The 17th pick could be a hot spot either way.

I think the Chargers will be a prime candidate to trade back, despite that being something that Tom Telesco has literally never done. Unless a top tier prospect falls to them, I would trade back to get back some draft capital they lost from the Khalil Mack trade. Trading down to the mid-20’s should easily net them another top 100 pick and I think they should do that. It’s possible they could even get the aforementioned Zion Johnson or maybe Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green and then add another pass rusher, corner, or receiver with the next two picks.

The Chargers have almost put themselves in position to really do what they want here and get their guy. Offensive line is still a question mark, but with the way the team has been built, I don’t see how they don’t have a plan for that right tackle spot. Personally, if I was the GM, I would take a burner at receiver like Williams or Olave. Really everything is on the table for this team as they look to take that next step.

Matt Feiler signing paying off for Chargers – via Chargers Wire

Chase Bendel

Author Chase Bendel

Hey everyone! My name is Chase Bendel. I am from Gilbert, Arizona, and a big-time Chargers fan. I am 24 years old, married with 1 son. I grew up playing all kinds of sports, football always being my favorite to watch and analyze. I have also wanted to get into the sports journalism world so I am always excited to push some content out for you guys. I appreciate you all and thank you for reading!

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