The Los Angeles Chargers hit the reset button late in the 2023 NFL season, cleaning house in the front office and coaching staff to create a better future. With all eyes on the 2024 NFL Draft for hope, it’s time for a Chargers mock draft roundup to see what potential options are out there.
While mock drafts are rarely accurate, they provide a glimpse into how the NFL Draft can unfold. Taking it from the Chargers’ perspective, we can use mock drafts to see what players and positions will be available when they are on the clock. We’ll start out with first-round picks only before including Round 1 and 2 picks during the offseason.
Let’s dive into the Chargers mock draft roundup for the 2024 NFL Draft coming out of Week 16.
Los Angeles Chargers Mock Draft Roundup Before Week 17
Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia – Sportsnaut, Sports Illustrated, 33rd Team
In a dream world, the Chargers would likely love to get their hands on All-American wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. However, he’s viewed as a top-three prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft with reports he won’t make it past a team ensured to be several spots ahead of Los Angeles. As this week’s Chargers mock draft roundup highlights, though, there’s another elite offensive weapon to snag.
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While NFL comparisons to George Kittle feel rich, Georgia Bulldogs star Brock Bowers is the best tight end prospect to enter the NFL Draft in years. He isn’t as athletic as Kyle Pitts, but Bowers is by far the more well-rounded player. Standing at 6-foot-4, Bowers led the FBS in missed tackles forced (18) and had the sixth-highest yards after catch per reception (8.7) during the 2023 season, per Pro Football Focus. Combine that with his high-end blocking ability and you’d be giving Justin Herbert a potential perennial Pro Bowl tight end who does merit the stylistic comparisons to Kittle.
Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State – Pro Football Network
Through 16 games, the Chargers’ defense has the sixth-most sacks (45) in the NFL. On the surface, that certainly indicates that Los Angeles is very good at rushing the passer. However, underlying numbers tell a different story. Over that same 15-game span, the Chargers rank 30th in ESPN’s pass-rush win rate (34 percent) and they are 22nd in pressure rate (19.2 percent). Plus, at least one of Joey Bosa or Khalil Mack will be a cap casualty in 2024.
Enter edge rusher Jared Verse. A two-time All-American, earning second-team honors in 2022, the 6-foot-4 defensive lineman was one of the best pass rushers in college football this past year. In his age-23 season, Verse recorded a 20.8 percent pass-rush win rate (4th in FBS), racking up 35 hurries with 11 sacks and 60 total pressures across 329 pass-rushing snaps, per PFF. While Verse is a liability right now as a run defender (18.4 percent missed tackle rate), he’d immediately upgrade the Chargers’ pass rush and he offers the ceiling to be a 10-sack player in his prime years.
Jer’Zhan Newton, iDL, Illinois – Pro Football Focus and CBS Sports
Chargers fans have been rightfully frustrated with the interior defensive line for years. From 2021-’22, Los Angeles had the worst run defense in the NFL. It’s still a bottom-12 run defense in 2023 and the lack of interior pass rush from the Chargers’ defensive tackles is just as big of a problem.
Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton addresses both problems. Standing at 6-foot-2, Newton is an excellent athlete for his size and it shows up both on tape and in his production. This past season with the Fighting Illini, he recorded 28 hurries with 8 sacks, giving him 64 hurries and 12 sacks in 25 games over the last two seasons. More impressive, he posted the third-highest pass-rush win rate (15.5 percent) of all starting defensive tackles in college football this past season.
Newton was also excellent against the run, including in two phenomenal performances against the Penn State Nittany Lions and Wisconsin Badgers. In 12 games played this fall, Newton recorded a 7.4 percent stop rate with a 77.1 PFF run-defense grade. While he will need NFL coaching to quicken his get-off and improve his pass-rushing technique, Newton would be an immediate impact player for the Chargers.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State – Yahoo Sports
One of the least-popular picks in 2024 Chargers mock drafts might be Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashano, projected to land in Los Angeles by Yahoo Sports’ Nate Tice. While it might seem like a strange pick on the surface, there’s merit behind it.
In 2023, the Chargers ranked 19th in sacks per game allowed (2.6) and it progressively worsened as the season unfolded. Not only did Los Angeles have a bottom-12 offensive line, but Herbert suffered a significant injury because of it for the second consecutive year. Considering the team’s financial commitment to Herbert, it must protect him.
Olu Fashanu is a generational talent. The 6-foot-6 offensive tackle didn’t allow a single sack across 733 pass-blocking snaps in three seasons at Penn State, per PFF, surrendering just 16 hurries and 1 QB hit over that span. He’s viewed in that same regard as a player like Tyron Smith and Los Angeles could put Fashanu at right tackle. While that’s a bit unconventional, look at the Eagles’ offensive line as a blueprint for how significant winning at the line of scrimmage and providing a clean pocket for the quarterback is.