The NFL Draft is a few weeks away and mock draft season is in full swing. The Los Angeles Chargers needs are well documented. The Bolts need to improve along the trenches and find an answer on the backend of their defense.
Luckily, Los Angeles should be able to fill a need with the 17th overall pick. However, there are some that believe that Chargers could shock with a flashy pick in the middle of the first round. Possibly adding another weapon for Philip Rivers or grabbing his heir apparent.
Here are the thoughts from the experts around the web.
Dan Kadar (SBNation.com): DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
Yet another Alabama player in the top 20. Defensive tackle is arguably the biggest need on the Chargers, and Payne is an experienced, technically sound player who can eat up a lot of snaps early in his career.
At the moment, the Charges and their front office are eyeing a return to the playoffs. General managers should look at a prospect that can play right away. Although it was mostly due to injury, not having first-round pick Mike Williams as an option last season clearly hurt the Bolts’ playoff chances.
Chad Reuter (NFL.com): LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
The Bolts grab a productive linebacker in this mock. Vander Esch would likely slide next to Denzel Perryman in what appears to be a very thin linebacking corps. With Korey Toomer off to San Francisco, linebacker likely became an even bigger need for the Chargers.
Matt Miller (BleacherReport.com): OT Connor Williams (Texas)
The first offensive tackle comes off the board at pick No. 17, and he’s an excellent fit and value for the Los Angeles Chargers. An aggressive 2017 draft and the signing of Mike Pouncey has the line in good shape for this year, but the future needs addressing, and Williams can be that left tackle of the present and long-term plan.
This would be a nice addition to the Los Angeles offensive line. Right tackle appears to be the only major hole along the front. Williams could be plugged in from the jump and after he develops, could be moved to the left side when Rusell Okung’s time is up. Matt Miller makes a solid point in terms of the immediate and long-term impact of adding Williams.
Will Brinson (CBSSports.com): QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Bad news for both Geno Smith and Cardale Jones, but Jackson’s the type of quarterback who could be the long-term answer in post-Philip Rivers life. The only hangup here is the Chargers could see themselves in win-now mode.
It wouldn’t help the Chargers playoff chances this year, but adding Jackson would bring life to the franchise. Most fans couldn’t help but be super-excited for the 2016 Heisman winner to don the Chargers uniform. This would make for a crazy draft night.
Steve Palazzolo (ProFootballFocus.com): OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
While the Chargers used some draft capital on the offensive line last season, there’s still work to be done, and McGlinchey can start immediately on the right side with an eye toward playing left tackle in the future (though both positions are of equal value and it doesn’t matter which side he plays). McGlinchey is a powerful run-blocker, leading all tackles with a 95.0 run-blocking grade last year while allowing only 16 pressures.
Another tackle for Los Angeles. Snagging McGlinchey at 17 would be great value for the Chargers. The investment the team has made in protecting Philip Rivers would be complete with the young prospect. Pro Football Focus was high on McGlinchey as well.
Luke Easterling (Draftwire.com): S Justin Reid (Stanford)
If the Bolts miss out on one of this year’s top quarterbacks to serve as Philip Rivers’ eventual successor, they can shift their focus to adding an instant-impact player at a position of need. One of this year’s fastest-rising prospects, Reid has the athleticism and versatility to be a big-time playmaker.
Reid is a new name to enter the roundup. Typically, Derwin James has been the name tabbed to the Bolts, but Reid could be another young option to fill in the void at free safety. Tre Boston is still a free agent and there is still the chance he ends up back with Los Angeles. However, hope is dwindling as the Draft inches closer.
Vinnie Iyer (SportingNews.com): DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
The Chargers are nasty on the edges with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but they could use more explosiveness inside to round out what has the makings of an elite defense in 2018. Payne has Bosa-like short-area speed and can add to opponents’ backfield nightmares.
The idea of having Payne, Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram along the defensive line sounds phenomenal. The pass rushing duo had a ton of success last season getting to the quarterback, but the Chargers had no success in stopping the run.
If Payne can clog holes up the middle, it will allow for Perryman and company to come downhill and crunch running backs.