We’re just about a month away from the 2021 draft and things are starting to get a little repetitive. With each new mock comes the same few familiar faces. We know all of the top offensive lineman and we are well aware of the players who should be available when the Chargers pick at No. 13. The majority of fans want Rashawn Slater of Northwestern or Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC.
Aside from lineman, the next best option is cornerback. South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn upped his stock after an incredible pro day last week and the likes of Slater’s teammate Greg Newsome and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley are also expected to be in play.
But what if the Bolts went in a completely different direction? What if they felt like the offensive line was “good enough” and instead, chose to give Justin Herbert a game-breaking presence on the outside?
Well, that’s what NFL.com’s Chad Reuter did in his latest four-round mock, sticking the Chargers with the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner himself, Alabama’s Devonta Smith.
Reuter makes four more picks for the Bolts after Smith and they’re all fairly new names when it comes players mocked to L.A., so let’s dive in and see what he’s cooked up for the Chargers.
Round 1, Pick #13: WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
For 99 percent of Chargers fans, it’s offensive tackle or bust with the 13th-overall pick. With the way things are lining up ahead of the Bolts, especially with teams attempting ti jockey into position for their future franchise quarterback, talented players at other prominent positions will fall.
That will also go for this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, who isn’t necessarily being regarded as this class’ number one wideout prospect. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase or even his Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle have been mocked above him at least one time or another.
In Reuter’s mock, both Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater are off the board when the Chargers pick. Alijah Vera-Tucker is available, but Reuter believes Smith is too valuable of a pick for Los Angeles to pass up.
Smith might weigh 170 pounds, but he will be a dangerous playmaker at the next level. Justin Herbert would love to have the Heisman Trophy winner working in the slot with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Smith owns the foot quickness and tenacity to win off the line versus press coverage, so he could play outside as a rookie — and eventually take over for Williams, who is a free agent after the 2021 season.
In 2020, Smith rewrote the SEC and Alabama record books while leading the nation in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856), and touchdowns (23). His career totals of 235 receptions, 3,965 receiving yards, and 46 touchdowns were also program highs, with the yardage and touchdowns also setting new SEC records.
If there was an award that Smith could win in 2020, he took it home. Besides winning the Heisman, Smith became the first wide receiver to be named the AP’s Player of the Year. He also won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s best wideout, the Paul Hornung Award for most-versatile player, and was a unanimous First-Team All-American.
While I, like the rest of you, believe the team should select a top offensive tackle, the draft is shaping up to be deep enough at the position that Chargers could grab a prospect with immense upside as late as round three. If they decide to go that route, the Bolts’ offense all of a sudden becomes one of the top units in all of football.
.@DeVontaSmith_6’s route running abilities @movethesticks | @AlabamaFTBL pic.twitter.com/60nrHnabDn— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 23, 2021
Round 2, Pick #47: CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia
Campbell is a former five-star cornerback recruit that started immediately for the Bulldogs as a true freshman in 2018. After an injury held him to just three starts as a sophomore, Campbell came back strong to start 10 games in 2020, finishing with 29 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, his first career interception, and five pass breakups.
On his own team, Campbell was overshadowed by fellow corner Eric Stokes, who was named a Second-Team All-SEC selection. Despite not being named to the the all-conference squad, he did enough at Georgia’s recent pro day to garner some attention with his coveted size (6’1 185) and speed (4.39/4.44) combination.
Campbell is best in man coverage where he gets to fight and compete up close with pass-catchers. He’s got surprisingly fluid hips and can make some impressive turns before driving on passes, but there’s still one part about his overall profile that gives me pause: His lack of playmaking ability.
Some guys just have it and some guys don’t. Despite his elite pedigree, Campbell only recorded one interception at UGA and had just 10 PBUs. That’s not exactly the type of numbers you want to see in your second-round corner, especially when you’re looking for that player to come in and play significant snaps as a rookie. I like the position here, just not the player.
It’s been a long time coming , but we see you Tyson Campbell pic.twitter.com/MET7QmzQ4I— LEE Ring0️⃣ (@HBTFD1) November 29, 2020
Round 3, Pick #77: OT Brady Christensen, BYU
Christensen earned some well-deserved buzz heading into this offseason after he was named a consensus All-American following a phenomenal season at left tackle for BYU and their prized quarterback, Zach Wilson.
At 6’6 and a little over 300 pounds, Christensen absolutely crushed his pro day. His 4.89 forty is obviously MOVING for an offensive lineman and his 10’4” broad jump is reportedly the furthest jump EVER by an offensive lineman, per Mockdraftable.
Brady Christensen, BYU OT— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 26, 2021
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 302 lbs
Broad jump: 10'4"
PFF 1st Team All-American pic.twitter.com/UwTwEhA1Ra
In his three years after returning from a mission trip, Christensen started every game at left tackle for the Cougars, paving the way for a multitude of big plays and helping to lead one of 2020’s best offenses. His movement skills on film are evident and they were strongly reinforced from his recent testing. He’s also plenty strong as shown by his 30 reps on the bench press.
While I know this isn’t the flashiest of picks for an incredibly important position, it’s not often that you’re able to land such a decorated player this late in the draft. Like I said earlier in the draft, the tackle position is so much deeper than most expected from the start of the offseason. Christensen could be a heck of a value in the third.
The more I watch BYU LT Brady Christensen - the more he’s turning into a ‘pound the table for’ prospect— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 11, 2021
One of most athletic OTs in the class!
Run Arc vs Speed ++
Drive Block Movement
Reach/3T Backside OZ
Climb to 2nd Level
Pull to Perimeter
Sustain Pass Pro Late pic.twitter.com/dOoELPxQsK
Round 3, Pick #97: DE Chris Rumph II, Duke
Once touted as the draft’s best pass-rusher, the hype surrounding Rumph has died down quite a bit when evaluators realized he is as much of a liability in the run game as he is astounding at getting after opposing quarterbacks.
At 6’4 and 235 pounds, he’s quite a bit undersized, but you can’t understate his slippery-ness when he’s consistently getting around lineman with impressive efficiency.
Over the last three seasons at Duke, Rumph has recorded 33 career tackles-for-loss and 17.5 sacks. His game likely isn’t going to transfer all that well to the NFL, but the right scheme and coaching is going to pay off big for him. In a multiple front, which is something we can likely expect from Brandon Staley this year, Rumph is a movable piece that should see time on the edge and along the interior as a blitzer. His bend and quickness is dangerous against guards and centers, making him an easy mismatch to set up on stunts and games inside.
While I think the Chargers need a more traditionally-sized edge rusher, Rumph has the type of juice that doesn’t come around often. I’d trust Staley and his staff to get the most out of him as a situational pass rusher.
With Rousseau opting out, I think the top pass rusher attention on the field this year turns to @DukeFOOTBALL's Chris Rumph— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) August 6, 2020
His performance vs. Miami last year is one of the best 2021 prospect games I've watched pic.twitter.com/ZxSBUDEono
Round 4, Pick #118: DT Bobby Brown III, Texas A&M
Brown is a name I honestly haven’t heard of up to this point in the offseason but when looking at his numbers from this past season, the 6’4, 325-pounder looked to have had a bit of a breakout year with 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles-for-loss in seven starts.
A pick like Brown would obviously be a move to replace the aging Linval Joseph. They’re essentially the same height and weight, and Brown has shown the pass-rushing ability the Chargers could use along the interior. However, according to his draft profile at The Draft Network, Brown’s consistency when rushing the passer has been called into question. Sometimes he can put it all together, and sometimes he looks like he’s just going through the motions. This is obviously decent-sized red flag.
At the same time, his play was good enough to earn the true junior First-Team All-SEC honors alongside Alabama’s Christian Barmore, who is being touted as one of the top defensive tackles in this draft and a potential first-round pick.
Offensive lineman like Stanford’s Walker Little and Notre Dame’s Aaron Banks were still on the board at this pick, so you’d almost like the Chargers to double-dip on that side of the trenches, but they could do so much worse than a player with Brown’s upside.