Was Linebacker Junior Colson The Los Angeles Chargers Best Draft Pick? 

Los Angeles Chargers drafting of Junior Colson was an A+++

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The draft finally happened! After months of speculation, the Los Angeles Chargers picked the rookies that will help them define the 2024 season. And let’s just say they picked some good ones. We have a new offensive tackle who’s just a mountain of a man in Joe Alt from Notre Dame, as well as quite a few wide receivers, like Jerry Rice’s son Brenden Rice from USC, some depth at cornerback with additions from Maryland and Notre Dame, a defensive tackle, and a running back

But my favorite pick of the draft, and the best pick, is Junior Colson, a linebacker from Michigan. 

Junior Colson’s College Background

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan
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Colson started playing at Michigan in 2021 and has played mostly as the middle linebacker. Despite some injuries, from 2022 onward, he has started every game. And being a starter for that many games is impressive, especially when according to Aaron McMann of M Live, Colson played with casts on both hands toward the later part of 2023. In 2022, he had surgery on his foot and would wear “a walking boot during the week and take it off on Saturdays to play.” 

While at Michigan, his Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades have only gone up, especially by 2023 in the areas of tackling (90.2), coverage (83.4), and run defense (80.0). In addition to his career-high PFF grades, in his last season he also had career-highs in solo tackles (68) and STOPs (36). He exudes aggressive and physical play. That, coupled with the fact that he already has played in the systems of head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, makes him a great addition. 

What Junior Colson Will Bring To The Los Angeles Chargers 

Los Angeles Chargers Draft Pick Junior Colson
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Harbaugh said during his press conference with general manager Joe Hortiz on Day 2 of the draft, that Colson is versatile, he can play as a MIKE (middle inside linebacker) and WILL (weakside inside linebacker).  Harbaugh also praised his ability to be a “downhill linebacker” who “can also go sideline to sideline.” Not only can Colson stop the run, but the majority of his snaps on defense were coverage snaps (1,006 over three years), and from watching the tape, that sideline-to-sideline ability becomes very apparent. Colson is able to stop receivers in their tracks, which is something the Chargers desperately need. 

Explosive plays have always been a big issue with this team and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. has been good in coverage but struggles with open-field tackling. In addition to Samuel, cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor, and edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu, have also had their share of tackling woes.

Colson has been an extremely consistent tackler, which is just another of his many talents. He has all these different pieces to plug some of the holes the Chargers have been trying to fill for years. 

Junior Colson Has A Bright Future 

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When Colson was asked on the podcast, In the Trenches about what he wants his legacy at Michigan to be, he said he wanted people to think he was a great man, a great brother to his teammates, and that he gave back. He wanted to make sure he left something behind to make the Michigan linebacker room better.

Hearing him talk and knowing that he won the Lott IMPACT Trophy in 2023, which is based on character and performance, it’s clear he has that leadership quality which is crucial for a middle linebacker. Hopefully, he gets to start this year, but if not, he has the talent and the grit to become a starter soon and will add a lot to a team that’s always been on the cusp of greatness. The Los Angeles Chargers have all the star power and coaches they need to take off this year.