Alright everyone, here’s my second three-round mock of the 2021 offseason. With these, I’ll always try to have new faces in each one as these can get a bit redundant if not. Mock drafts are also an excellent way to educate fans on draft prospects who may not spend much time in the spotlight.
I like the versatility in this one, especially at the top. In the third, I picked a pair of players with high upside, but both come with their fair share of questions. Lots to love, but lots to uncover, as well.
With that being said, let’s get right into it.
Round 1, Pick 13: OG/T Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
Another name often paired with the Chargers in the first round has been Vera-Tucker, another extremely versatile blocker who saw plenty of success at both guard and tackle for the Trojans. After playing in a reserve role at right guard in 2018, Vera-Tucker burst onto the scene as a the team’s left guard the following year, earning First-Team All-Pac 12 honors by the Associated Press.
After the team lost starting left tackle Austin Jackson to the NFL draft, Vera-Tucker stepped in at the blindside without skipping a beat. He was still so dominant in 2020 that he was awarded The Morris Trophy, given to the Pac-12’s best offensive lineman voted on by the defensive lineman who played against him.
Like Slater, Vera-Tucker would offer the Chargers flexibility in filling out the offensive line. He’d be best at guard, yes, but having him play left tackle in a pinch is vital for a team that needs backup plans more often than most.
USC LT Alijah Vera-Tucker with a 3 for 1 special on this play. He’s playing at a very high level. pic.twitter.com/rwfhDnsXcG— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 26, 2020
Speaking of versatile as we head into the team’s second-round pick...
Round 2, Pick 47: OG/C Landon Dickerson, Alabama
If there was a guy more beloved on the Crimson Tide football team last year than Dickerson, please point them out to me.
Dickerson initially started his career with Florida State where he started at right guard during his first year on campus. He became the first true freshman to do so for the Seminoles since the 1982 season. After struggling with injuries through the next two seasons, he entered the transfer portal, landing with the Crimson Tide for the 2019 season.
After starting the first four games at right guard, Dickerson was moved to center where he finished out the final nine games of the year despite never having played there before. Still, he managed to earn Second-Team All-SEC honors for his play.
Dickerson, right back at the pivot for the Tide, started 11 games before suffering a right knee injury in the SEC Championship Game against Florida. His play up to that point was still impressive enough that he was named a unanimous First-Team All-American and winner of the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center. At the end of the CFP National Championship, Nick Saban allowed Dickerson to snap the last few plays of the game.
At one point or another, the 6’6, 325-pounder had started at least one game at each of the five positions along the offensive line. Although he’ll fit best along the interior, that type of high-level play is extremely valuable. With this pick, along with the selection of Vera-Tucker in the first, the Chargers would have ultimately flexibility in figuring out their best starting five for next season.
Round 3, Pick 77: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
At 6’1 and 190 pounds, Adebo was one of the most notable opt-outs from this past season as he has been viewed as a top corner prospect for some time now. With the Pac-12 season in jeopardy, he decided sticking with draft prep was likely the best course of action for himself.
In 2018 as a redshirt freshman, Adebo started 12 games, picking off four passes and breaking up a whopping 20 passes. He was rightfully named a First-Team All-Pac 12 selection for efforts.
In 2019, Adebo started nine games before succumbing to a season-ending injury. He still managed to pick off another four passes (10 pas breakups) and repeated as a First-Team All-Pac 12 performer.
Now, when you look at the numbers from those first two seasons, it’s expected to wonder why a talent like him would fall all the way to the third like this. If I had to put it simply, his 2019 season wasn’t nearly the same as his 2018. On paper, yeah, but in the film, you would see a player struggling with the finer points of the position. Taking his eyes off the quarterback in man coverage, biting way too hard on double moves, it all happened far too often. He wasn’t nearly the same shutdown corner that he was as a freshman and scouts took notice. Still, he’s got all the physical traits you would want in a top corner and that’s exactly why team will be excited to land him sometime on day two.
Man, both of these plays from Stanford's Paulson Adebo are special. He's a damn good athlete with great timing/instincts. pic.twitter.com/0H1T8Mfdhi— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) September 1, 2019
Round 3, Pick 97: Edge Jordan Smith, UAB
Our final pick in this mock is an insanely lengthy edge rusher out of Alabama-Birmingham. At 6’7 and 255 pounds, they aren’t made like Smith all that often.
Smith landed with the Blazers after transferring from Florida to the JUCO level, and then UAB. In his first year with the team, Smith amassed 17.5 tackles-for-loss, 10 sacks, and was named a Second Team All-Conference USA. As a senior, Smith recorded 9.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks in the shortened season, earning First-Team All-CUSA honors and receiving an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Smith, unsurprisingly, likes to win with his elite length. If he’s able to get a hand up underneath the shoulder pad of an opposing blocker, it’s going to be a tough time for them to come to balance and anchor against his power. When a tackle’s job is to get their hands inside and lock down on a pass rusher, Smith makes it almost impossible for them to win that way.
He’s noted as being a good fit for 3-4 defenses, so while it’s yet to be seen what front the Chargers will play in the most often in 2021, adding a raw talent like Smith could pay off down the road.
Really slick Stab-Slap-Rip move here from @UAB_FB pass rusher Jordan Smith against Alex Leatherwood.— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) January 27, 2021
Smith came in at 6’6 255 yesterday with and 83’’ wing span. Like blocking a pterodactyl off the edge when he gets going. #WinAsOne pic.twitter.com/cFQOS6I5H4