With four games left remaining in the 2022 regular season, it’s not a surprise to see various media members putting out early renditions of their 2023 mock drafts.
On Tuesday morning, ESPN senior draft analyst Mel Kiper put out his first mock draft of the season. He has the Chargers picking at #23, with the team going to the defensive side of the ball by selecting South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith.
“J.C. Jackson signed a big-money deal with the Chargers this past offseason but then struggled and went down for the year with a knee injury. I like Asante Samuel Jr., but Los Angeles needs some depth here. Its nine interceptions and 7.3 yards allowed per attempt are both middle-of-the-pack numbers, and when you face Patrick Mahomes twice a year, supporting the secondary is never a bad call. Smith is versatile, instinctive and quick, and he ended up with six pass breakups this season.”
Smith has ideal size for the position at 6’1 and 190 pounds. He ended his time with the Gamecocks having recorded six interceptions, 19 pass breakups, and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Back in October, Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner ranked Smith as the top cornerback on their big board through eight games of the college football season. The the first eight games of the season up to that point, Smith had only allowed nine receptions on 22 targets for 137 yards.
According to those at The Draft Network, Smith is projected to be a starting cornerback by year two in the NFL with a varied skillset to benefit either zone or man coverage teams.