With only 99 days until the NFL Draft, mock draft season has begun. Draft pundits are setting up their big boards and NFL front offices are conducting interviews with prospects at showcase games all in preparation for Draft day in April.
The Los Angeles Chargers hold the 17th pick and are in a very interesting situation. After just missing out on the playoffs, the Chargers are in what many consider to be no man’s land. They are too far back to select a franchise-changing talent like a Joey Bosa, and they may need to give up a ton of stock to move up in the pecking order and snag one of the top quarterbacks.
There’s so much time before the draft that almost anything can become a possibility, but trends have already begun to develop. This could be the year that the Chargers looks towards the future and draft the heir apparent to Philip Rivers. Los Angeles could also beef up their front seven to improve upon their 31st ranked run defense.
Dan Kadar (SBNation.com): QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Philip Rivers’ career is winding down, so Los Angeles could be looking for its quarterback of the future in this draft. Jackson is loaded with tools but may need some time to adapt to the NFL. Going to Los Angeles would be a perfect fit.
Walter Cherepinsky (Walterfootball.com): DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
Los Angeles gets a big body up the middle in Payne. Corey Liuget hasn’t lived up to his massive $50 million contract and a 33-year-old Brandon Mebane in his last year of a 3-year deal, the Bolts can get younger in the trenches.
Neither Mebane or Liuget were very effective in 2017 and with the Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram being a terrifying duo on the edge, adding a run stuffer like Payne could set the Chargers defensive line up for success for years to come.
Chris Trapasso (CBSSports.com): DT Vita Vea (Washington)
With Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Vea, the Chargers would have the makings of the best defensive line in the NFL. Vea has the size and strength of a massive nose tackle and the athleticism of someone much smaller
Matt Miller (BleacherReport): OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)
The Chargers invested a ton in their offensive line last offseason. Adding Russell Okung and rookies Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney in the second and third round of the 2017 Draft.
Those moves paid off. Rivers was sacked the fewest times in the league and even with Lamp missing his rookie season due to an ACL tear, the Los Angeles offensive line made big strides with their pass protection. Okung was stellar at left tackle last season and it would be hard to imagine him not lining up in that spot in 2018.
The same cannot be said for the running attack that still struggled to make room for Melvin Gordon. If Los Angeles can see Brown opening up the rushing attack on the right side, maybe the Bolts take a chance on the 6’8” behemoth.
Luke Easterling (Draftwire): OT Orlando Brown (Oklahoma)
If the Bolts want Philip Rivers to stick around for a few more years and play at a high level, they’ll need to keep him healthy. Last year’s draft netted some stellar interior blockers, but they still need a franchise tackle like Brown, who is a massive mountain of a man.
Nick Klopsis (Newsday): DT Vita Vea (Washington)
Second appearance for Vea on this roundup. The Chargers issue with the run isn’t a well-kept secret and might be their biggest concern this offseason. There is a strong possibility that Liuget and Mebane are cut to open up cap room and allow the Bolts to make wholesale changes up front.
Throw in the improved play from Darius Philon, the Chargers may want to pair him up with a young stud like Vea.