Now that the bulk of free agency is over, it’s time to find the prospects that still make sense for the Chargers to take in the first round. The team brought in Bryan Bulaga, Linval Joseph, and Chris Harris Jr. and filled some of their largest needs. Now, this doesn’t mean the team will ignore these positions in the draft, but it will certainly affect their game plan.
The Chargers have used up most of their free cap-space, so their big-spending is done. Now they will look to the draft to fill the rest of the holes on the roster. The team is selecting in the top-10 for the third time in the past five seasons. They can’t afford to miss.
Given the Charger’s major needs, and General Manager Tom Telesco’s philosophies, these are the prospects that the Chargers are most likely to draft with the sixth overall pick.
Who To Take At 6? Predicting The Chargers Draft Prospects
Mekhi Becton – OT, Louisville
Originally this spot was held by Jedrick Wills who is one of my favorite prospects. That was before the Chargers went out and signed Bulaga to a 3-year $30 million dollar deal. Now I’m looking for a behemoth left tackle of the future, and I’ve found one.
Becton was originally thought of as a developmental, borderline first-round pick, but things change quickly. His stock has risen dramatically throughout the draft process, and now some are unsure if he’ll make it outside the top-5. With his size, 6’7” and 364 pounds, combined with his 5.1 40-yard dash, it’s easy to get excited about him. Becton’s hand size and wingspan are similar to fellow physical freak and perennial All-Pro Tyron Smith.
When you turn on the tape the first thing you notice is his physicality. His highlight tape is just a mash-up of him putting guys into the dirt and piling up pancakes.
Louisville OT Mekhi Becton has been serving up pancakes since high school
— PFF (@PFF) March 10, 2020
From a philosophy standpoint, this is the type of guy Anthony Lynn wants. His upper body strength is the stuff of legends, and this past season his footwork seemed to catch up. No one at his size should look as smooth as he does. As a run blocker, his sheer power opens up massive holes and is fully capable to clear out second-level defenders as well.
His game is going to take some time to transition into the league. At the next level, he’s going to have to do more than just overpower defenders. His punch is devastating, but he could use some control with his placement. The biggest red flag that has come up is his weight. With proper diet and conditioning, he will be fine, but at almost 370 pounds, it will need to be monitored.
If the Chargers decide to go with Tristan Wirfs or Wills I will be happy. If they take Becton, they will get a dominant road-grader from day one and the ceiling to be one of the best in the league.
Isaiah Simmons – LB, Clemson
Simmons is my favorite player in this entire class. He’s impossible not to love and was the most exciting defensive player in college football, including Chase Young. The thing that separates him from the rest is his versatility. People say players can play multiple positions all the time, but Simmons did it. The only position he didn’t play last year was defensive tackle.
Any article that doesn’t mention his 2019 stat line should be removed immediately. He put up over 100 total tackles, 8.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles. Like, what?
At the NFL Combine, he backed up his production, running the fastest 40-yard dash (4.39) among “linebackers”. He did this at 240 pounds and was only .02 seconds behind the fastest safety. Simmons is a bonafide athletic freak, and most importantly, it shows up on film.
On the field, he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. The strengths are plentiful. Simmons is so twitchy, and he uses that to get downhill in a heartbeat. Whether it’s attacking receivers at the catch point or bearing down on a running back in the flat, he gets there in a flash. He is a plus run defender as well. His crazy wingspan helps him lockout lineman and shed them to make tackles. In coverage, he has the fluid hips, speed, and size to match up man-to-man with almost any slot receiver or tight end.
Simmons is the type of player that would make any defense better. All you have to do is not confine him to one position, because that would be a waste of his talents. He and Derwin James on the same team would give the team the best chance defensively to combat high-powered NFL offenses. If the Chargers decide to go with the best player available, Simmons fits the bill.
Justin Herbert – QB, Oregon
Herbert surprised many when he decided to return for his senior season at Oregon, and I’m not sure it paid off. Before returning, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had the Oregon quarterback as his 6th ranked overall prospect. Right now on ESPN, he is pegged as the 23rd best player.
These are just projections and quarterback is an especially hard position to project. This is how a prospect like Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky, or Jared Goff get selected with top-two overall picks. The thing is, it’s a quarterback league, so you accept the inherent risk.
Herbert has all of the physical tools you want in quarterback prospects. First of all, he’s 6’6″ and has the frame that he can grow into.
Secondly, he has a rocket-propelled grenade that’s attached to his right shoulder. Herbert showed it off at the combine, showing better touch than usual, launching 60-yard bombs with the flick of the wrist. He upped that at his Pro Day throwing it 62 yards flat-footed. He also showed some previously unseen athleticism in his final game against Wisconsin scoring three rushing touchdowns.
With Herbert, arm strength is not the problem, but sometimes he trusts it too much.
Several of his interceptions last season were him throwing into coverage late and thinking he could thread the needle (luckily, he only threw six total interceptions).
One of the other major concerns is how he gets through his progressions. Throughout his career, he has tended to be glued to his first option and scrambling if it’s not open. In the NFL you have to be able to get through your reads quickly and be able to look off safeties.
Another problem I have is his accuracy. Far too often in college if he was moved off his spot, or wasn’t in rhythm, he had balls drop at the feet of his receivers or just plain overthrew them. More than that, in the NFL you have to give your receiver a chance at yards after the catch. Too many times his receivers had to make adjustments that slowed them down because of ball placement. These all sound really negative, but when you’re selecting sixth overall, you have to be picky.
There are a lot of things to like as well. When things are clicking, he makes generally well-placed throws and has a keen understanding of space and timing. He can make every throw on the field and doesn’t often put the ball in harm’s way. He takes shots, but they’re calculated. He also is more than athletic enough to fill the mobile quarterback role that Head Coach Anthony Lynn covets.
Out of all the picks on this list, this is the one I disagree with the most. Unfortunately, I think it’s the most likely of the three. With Jordan Love’s interceptions and Tua Tagovailoa’s injury concerns, Herbert seems like the safe pick. The Chargers passed on Deshaun Watson and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft. There’s a growing sense that this will lead to a quarterback or bust mentality in the front office.
All of the players listed here fill either short or long term needs for the Chargers. Becton is a guy that can potentially hold down the left tackle position that has given the team fits over the years.
I’m not sold on Herbert, but I get it. Tyrod Taylor is not the quarterback of the future, and I don’t know if Telesco is willing to trade up for Tua. Whoever they decide on, if they don’t come away with a premier player, jobs will be lost.