Chargers Make Some Surprise Picks And Look Ahead To Day Three
The Los Angeles Chargers followed up their selection of Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater by making some surprise picks on Friday evening. They ended up adding Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Palmer, and Georgia tight end Tre McKitty.
Samuel Jr was a very popular mock draft selection for the Chargers for the last few months and this is another slam dunk pick for Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley. Similar to Slater, I wasn’t sure if he would be there for the Chargers in the second round but thankfully he was. He will fill the void left by Casey Hayward on the outside, and he’ll also provide the Chargers with a lot of flexibility and versatility. Something that Staley highlighted in his press conference. He and Chris Harris each have the ability to play inside and outside, which is a requirement for this defense that the Chargers will be running. Last year for the Rams, Troy Hill and Darious Williams had that same kind of relationship.
Along with his positional versatility, Samuel Jr brings elite ball production to the table for the Chargers. Something that the Chargers have been missing in recent years. He also plays with an incredibly high football IQ, as demonstrated by his ability to read and anticipate route concepts. One of my favorite things about him is his ability as a tackler. He might be undersized, but he brings the juice as a tackler.
Palmer was a surprise to some, especially since many fans wanted them to partake in the depth of the speedy slot receiver class. However, the slot group for the Chargers is overcrowded. The best option the Chargers have there is Austin Ekeler. Jared Cook will also take reps there, filling a similar role as he always has. The hope for the Chargers obviously is that Joe Reed can fill that gadget role that so many fans wanted. Add in the reps that Keenan Allen and Jalen Guyton will take in the slot, and it never made any sense for the Chargers to add another slot receiver. Tyron Johnson and Mike Williams were the only receivers who were exclusively outside receivers, so if the Chargers were going to add another receiver to the room, it was going to be an outside player.
Palmer brings really good size to the table at 6’2 and has a strong acumen for making plays above the rim. However limited the production was, he showed the ability to win in a variety of ways as a route runner. He’s got a clean release to beat press coverage and separates really well at the top of routes. Everybody talks about Slater’s game against Chase Young, and that’s important because that was his best competition. Playing in the SEC Palmer faced a lot of great competition on a weekly basis. According to Erick Galko, Palmer had 101 snaps this past season against Patrick Surtain II, Kelvin Joseph, Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes, and Jaycee Horn. He held his own against all of them.
So while he didn’t technically produce a lot, he did show up against the best competition and that likely made him more attractive to NFL teams – and I say teams because Palmer had a lot of love in the league. A lot of fans will say the Chargers reached for him, but he likely wasn’t making it to pick #97. I had Palmer as my eleventh best wide receiver this year, and he was the eleventh wide receiver taken off the board.
If Palmer was a surprise, then McKitty was a shock – at least on social media. The Chargers needed a tight end, and most importantly they needed a legitimate blocker at the position. The Chargers offense is going to be heavily influenced by the Shanahan system and everywhere you look, the people running that system have great blocking tight ends. The Chargers lost Hunter Henry in free agency, and it appears Virgil Green as well. Both of those two were outstanding blockers. So McKitty fills a need and he will be on the field a lot working with Slater and Bryan Bulaga to help set the edges for the rushing attacks.
He only had six catches this past season at Georgia but did show the ability to be a bigger contributor in the passing game at Florida State and at the Senior Bowl. There were some really good tight ends at that week-long All-Star game in Mobile, including Boston College’s Hunter Long, but it was McKitty who was the dominant tight end. He showed off some high-level athletic traits all week and even made some insane one-handed catches for good measure. Still, as much as I like the player and understand that it feels a need, I can’t help but feel like it was a bit of a reach.
That being said, the Chargers have had a very good first couple of days in the draft so far. Checking off the boxes of Slater and Samuel Jr is as good as the first two rounds could have gone. Palmer and McKitty will each have roles as rookies and will contribute as well.
That being said, let’s look ahead to the final day of the draft.
I said this same thing yesterday but it is true again today: my attention is immediately drawn to the available safeties. Unfortunately for the players in this position group, it has been the one to kind of get the short end of the stick. Trevon Moehrig was looked at as a surefire first-round pick and he fell all the way to pick #43. Jamar Johnson, the safety out of Indiana, still being on the board is absurd. I had him graded as a top 70 player. I would have been thrilled if the Chargers had taken him with the 77th pick. If they are able to pick him up at pick 118 tomorrow, that would be an awesome outcome.
Otherwise, Tyree Gillespie out of Missouri is still on the board too. I mocked him to the Chargers at pick #97 earlier this week. The Chargers could go for the full Florida State effect and grab Hamsah Nasirlideen. Although he does have some injury baggage, he would fill a need and does have the kind of versatile skill set that would make sense for the Chargers. One of my favorite sleepers in this class is California defensive back, Camryn Bynum. I think Brandon Staley would love the kind of versatility and tenacity that he brings to the table. There are still a bunch of quality safety prospects on the board for the Chargers to grab, which could be why they decided to gear more towards the offense today.
The other group that still has some quality players in it is the edge rusher group. Northern Iowa’s Elerson Smith is still on the board. As are Duke’s Chris Rumph, Miami’s Quincy Roche, Tulane’s Patrick Johnson, and Oregon State’s Hamilcar Rashed. If the Chargers want to wait and get their Notre Dame selection later on, Daelin Hayes is still available as well.
The one position that is getting a little thin is the interior offensive line group. If the Chargers want to add someone that can truly challenge Oday Aboushi they will have to do that sooner rather than later. David Moore out of Grambling State would be a fantastic selection with the 118th pick. If they elect to wait I have my eyes on Kayode Awosika out of Buffalo, and Robert Jones out of Middle Tennessee. Both of those players played tackle in college and are likely guard converts. However, they’d be more likely to sit and learn for a year behind Aboushi.
Despite the negativity on social media today, the Chargers can still fill out the rest of the roster with some solid players tomorrow. They have four more rounds, and five more picks to hopefully get a starting-caliber safety, edge rusher, and interior offensive lineman. Then they can use the last two picks on special teams players, which is also a big need.
Let us know what you thought of the Chargers day two picks in the comments or on social media!