Day Two Options For The Los Angeles Chargers

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Los Angeles Chargers pick T Rashawn Slater No. 13 overall in 2021 draft

Day Two Options For The Los Angeles Chargers

Tom Telesco had never spent a first-round draft pick on the same position twice before. 2013 was the last time that he spent a first-round pick on an offensive lineman when he drafted D.J. Fluker with the eleventh overall pick. Both of those streaks came to an end last night when he drafted Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater with the thirteenth overall pick. 

Chargers fans should be ecstatic with this selection. Slater will start at left tackle, according to Telesco and head coach Brandon Staley. He should anchor that spot for the next 10+ years. Personally, I never thought he would be on the board for the Chargers. Which is why I didn’t do a scouting profile on him. All the intel led me to believe that he wouldn’t fall past the New York Giants, but that all changed when Justin Fields fell and the Giants traded back with the Chicago Bears.

Here’s what I wrote about Slater in my notes after scouting him: 

  • Slater is the smartest offensive lineman in this class. The way he understands and works angles as a blocker is second to none. The biggest question mark about his game as an offensive tackle is his lack of length and prototypical size – he’s only listed at 6’4 and measured with 33-inch arms at his pro day. For this reason, some project him best as a guard at the next level. However, he is able to overcompensate for the lack of length due to his high-level awareness and great mobility. He does a fantastic job working the second level and making positive blocks in space via screens and sweeps, Northwestern would also pull up through the middle or out on the edges quite often. He doesn’t make a ton of splash blocks and he’s not necessarily a mauler but he is far from a pushover. He uses his athleticism and range to execute reach and scoop blocks at an extremely high level. The best thing he brings to the table is that he demonstrates the ability to win in a variety of ways with his hand placement, and ability to recover very effectively. He is the most polished blocker in the class. He has the biggest trump card of the class because of the way he held his own against Chase Young in 2019. 

Slater fell in the Chargers’ lap but I won’t complain about that. This is a home run pick.

[pickup_prop id=”6747″]Now, they will turn their attention to rounds two and three. The Chargers right now are slated to make selections at 47, 77, and 97. They still need a corner to start on the outside opposite of Michael Davis, they still need another safety to support Derwin James and Nasir Adderley, and they could still use another pass rusher or interior offensive lineman.

With the way, the board panned out in round one my attention is immediately drawn towards the safety room. One of the biggest surprises of the first round to me was that there wasn’t a single safety taken and that Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is still on the board. He is my highest-graded safety, although many view him as a linebacker.

Central Florida’s Richie Grant, TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, and Oregon’s Jevon Holland are also all on the board. All three of them have the versatility to play in the slot or deep in the two high shell that the Chargers will be running. Grant’s ability to also play in the box gives him the edge over the other two for me personally. Owusu-Koramoah shouldn’t wait that long to hear his name called but there’s a good chance that two players from that next group will be on the board for the Chargers. Any one of them would be great additions to the safety room.

If they elect to wait until the third round, or later to add a safety, they could target Andre Cisco out of Syracuse, Tyree Gillespie out of Missouri, or Jamar Johnson out of Indiana with one of their third-round picks.

Next, I would be looking at the interior offensive line group. The former USC Trojan Alijah Vera-Tucker was the only member of that group taken in the first round, which means there is some truly high-level talent left on the board. Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey and Alabama’s Landon Dickerson are the headliners. 

Humphrey was a stalwart center for the Sooners over the last four years but has the kind of flexibility, athleticism, and strength to play guard if necessary. Dickerson has an extensive injury history but he started games at all five positions during his college career and would certainly fit the “bigger” mold that Staley has been emphasizing.

Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis, Tennessee’s Trey Smith, and Notre Dame’s Aaron Banks are also on the board. I would feel very comfortable with any of these players challenging Oday Aboushi as the team’s starter at right guard.

Perhaps the Chargers play the board a little longer and wait to address this group. If they do, it is possible that they wait until the third day of the draft where they could get players like Robert Hainsey from Notre Dame, David Moore from Grambling State, or Ben Cleveland from Georgia.

As I mentioned, the team’s next biggest need is at outside corner and there are some great prospects on the board here as well. Ifeatu Melifonwu from Syracuse has been a very popular mock draft selection for them, as has Asante Samuel Jr. from Florida State. The two are very different kinds of corners – Melifonwu is nearly 6’3 and brings great length and size to the position, while Samuel Jr is a little undersized but plays with great tenacity and brings incredible ball production to the table. Georgia’s Tyson Campbell was one of the many players given the “he’s going to go earlier than you think” tag throughout this draft cycle, but he is still on the board. He doesn’t bring the same kind of polish as some of the other corners on the board but Campbell is big and fast. 

You all know by now how I feel about Paulson Adebo out of Stanford, if they decide to wait on the cornerback position and end up with him I will be thrilled. Robert Rochell out of Central Arkansas or Thomas Graham Jr. out of Oregon would make a lot of sense at pick #97 if they want to wait that long.

Last but not least (in terms of need) is the edge rusher group. Every year there is a little run on one position to go into the second round, and this year it happened to be the edge rushers. Houston’s Payton Turner, Miami’s Gregory Rousseau, Penn State’s Jayson Oweh, and Washington’s Joe Tryon made up four of the last five first-round picks.

If the Chargers want an edge rusher that they can add to their rotation and feel comfortable with him taking snaps from day one, they probably have to do it with their first pick of the day. Joseph Ossai out of Texas, and Ronnie Perkins out of Oklahoma seem to fit the mold physically of what Staley has traditionally wanted at the edge rusher position. I would also keep an eye on Ellerson Smith out of Northern Iowa, I know I’ve beaten a dead horse with that one but he really does fit that Leonard Floyd/Von Miller mold to a tee. 

Other than those positions of need, it does seem possible that one of the next group of offensive tackles is on the board for the Chargers after all. Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins, Texas’ Samuel Cosmi, North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz, and Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg are still on the board. Radunz is particularly interesting because he’s one of the few tackles in this class with 34+ inch arms. Several evaluators also believe that he could play all five spots on the line, which would give the Chargers a ton of options and versatility upfront.

Weirdly enough, I actually think Chargers fans should be rooting for a little run on tackles to start the second round to keep some top-tier defensive talent on the board. 

Additionally, every member of the second tier of tight ends is still on the board. That includes Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State, Brevin Jordan out of Miami, and Tommy Tremble out of Notre Dame. However, with the needs at corner, edge, safety, and interior offensive line I happen to think they should wait until day three to address the tight end position. The addition of Jared Cook gives the Chargers flexibility to wait and A) see how Donald Parham develops and B) take more of blocking tight end this year and add the true replacement for Hunter Henry next year in what should hopefully be a better tight end class. 

Either way, buckle up Chargers fans! The success rate on the second day of the draft is what separates the great rosters from the good rosters.

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Los Angeles Chargers pick T Rashawn Slater No. 13 overall in the 2021 draft. Photo Credit: Around The NFL Twitter