Another week, another flurry of mock drafts. With the combine looming, more and more analysts are throwing their general manager hats on to predict how things will shake out in April.
This week, 19 analysts selected 12 different players as the Chargers’ pick at 21.
Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt
Natalie Miller, Draft Wire (trade up to #17):
The Chargers recognize that the wide receiver’s injuries piled up last year, Keenan Allen is getting older, and Mike Williams has had trouble staying healthy over his career. They make the bold move to trade up for the top deep threat in this class in Hyatt, who will immediately become an attention grabber for Justin Herbert, and make an already explosive offense much more dangerous.
New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will allow Justin Herbert to push the ball downfield more frequently than the QB did with Joe Lombardi. So, it’s time to get Herbert a serious vertical weapon. That’s precisely what Hyatt is.
The Chargers selected the most explosive player in the draft, Jalin Hyatt. He is one of the fastest players in the class and can take the top off any NFL defense. Justin Herbert and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore would celebrate this pick.
USC WR Jordan Addison
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
No analysis given
Joe Broback, Pro Football Network:
Justin Herbert could have used a guy like Jordan Addison this year. Injuries hurt the Chargers’ offense all year at wide receiver, and some depth would have been useful. LA sits in a great spot to add a player to address that, and Addison gives them a big-time threat.
Addison’s ability to separate from his matchup sets him apart from the rest of this group. He does well to utilize leverage in his favor and knows how to work blind spots and violent cuts to give his quarterback a big window. Herbert and the offense are already in good hands, but adding a guy like Addison makes them even more terrifying.
The Chargers lack explosiveness at receiver, both down the field and in yards-after-the-catch situations, and addressing that need has to be a priority this offseason. The board in this mock draft fell beautifully for the Chargers to accomplish that goal. Jordan Addison is Dane Brugler’s top-ranked receiver. He can affect the game in two areas the Chargers need. Addison can play outside and in the slot, which will be important if the team decides to move on from Keenan Allen for cap reasons. There are some concerns about Addison’s size and strength, but I think this is a great value pick that fills a big roster hole. — Daniel Popper
Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network:
The Chargers need to load up on weapons for Justin Herbert as injuries continue to limit the availability of their stars. Jordan Addison is quick and versatile. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore should enjoy having another explosive option to scheme around.
Boston College WR Zay Flowers
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Chargers need more explosiveness at wide receiver, and, to quote Lightning McQueen, “I am speed.” Flowers is one of the fastest wide receivers in the draft, allowing him to be a deep threat at the next level. His size is a concern, but the Chargers have plenty of size at the position with Mike Williams.
Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Parson, The Draft Network:
TE1 is not Michael Mayer? There is a strong chance of this ending up being the case. Luke Musgrave is the most athletic tight end in the class. He has the physical and athletic profile teams look for. Adding Musgrave to the Chargers’ offense would give Justin Herbert another field-stretching weapon to terrorize weapons with.
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch
There’s a chance the cash-strapped Chargers part with Keenan Allen this offseason to clear cap space. Even if they don’t the Los Angeles pass offense could use an influx of speed at wide receiver.
Smith-Njigba’s nagging hamstring injury limited him to only a few catches this season, but he showed in 2021 that he has the polish and skills to be a star in the NFL.
Empowering your young quarterbacks with weapons is the way to go. Look at Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia and Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. Keenan Allen will be 31 at the start of the next season and missed seven games with an injury. Smith-Njigba is one of the most athletically gifted players in the draft, and he will give Justin Herbert two longer-term wide receiver options along with Mike Williams.
TCU WR Quentin Johnston
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Speed on the outside has been a missing element for the Chargers. Johnston fills that need.
Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness
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Van Ness is still budding as a pass rusher. His go-to style is his speed-to-power bull rush, which can be deadly for a player with a lot of explosiveness out of his stance. But he was never a consistent starter for the Hawkeyes, so his production remains a projection. All that is to say he’d be a versatile player for the Chargers to groom in their pass-rush rotation.
Ohio State OT Dawand Jones
Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch
We’ll see if Jones ultimately finds his way into the first round, but it’s hard to overlook just how dominant he was in one day of practice at the Senior Bowl. Yes, his footwork needs some fine-tuning, but his huge frame, long arms and enormous wingspan more than make up for what he lacks in quickness. He’s block-out-the-sun big, even when standing next to his offensive linemates.
For the third consecutive year, Los Angeles adds an offensive lineman in the first round. It seems like overkill, but rookie contracts are cheap relative to a second deal, and there is no such thing as providing Justin Herbert with too much protection.
Clemson DL Bryan Bresee
Second verse, same as the first: In Brandon Staley’s two seasons as the Chargers’ head coach, his proclivity for interesting coverages and light boxes have relegated his defense to the bottom of the league when it comes to stopping the run. Bresee can hold up double teams from nose tackle alignments, he can rush the passer outside the guards, and he’s got some edge potential as well. He’d at least start to stop that particular damage; a recovery project that will likely come more from personnel than scheme.
Clemson LB Trenton Simpson
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Arif Hasan, Pro Football Network:
The board fell the wrong way for the Los Angeles Chargers here. Ideally, someone would package together a bevy of picks for Bijan Robinson, who is still on the board. But the teams who most need running backs — the Broncos, Dolphins and Panthers, for example — don’t have first-round picks or need to spend them on something dire, like a quarterback.
Los Angeles had good luck with their young cornerbacks, so they could withstand the free agency failure of JC Jackson and don’t need to spend a first-round pick on one here.
That leaves them to either overdraft a receiver, double-up at cornerback, or pick a linebacker with the understanding that Kenneth Murray will never become who they thought he could be. Drue Tranquill, hitting free agency regardless, is nice but not elite — even though the defense de-emphasizes the position.
We went with the last option because good coaches can find ways to use good players, and Trenton Simpson is one of the best. He can and has lined up everywhere along the defense and has terrorized offenses from safety to edge rusher.
Maryland CB Deonte Banks
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Charles McDonald, Yahoo Sports:
A little boost at cornerback for a defense that played way better down the stretch without the talent they thought they would have at the start of the season.
LSU WR Kayshon Boutte
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Boutte is flying under the radar before the combine, but I expect that to change after Indianapolis. His strengths weren’t a great fit with LSU QB Jayden Daniels last season, but he was a five-star recruit out of high school for a reason. He can line up at different spots and is a serious vertical threat.