It’s finally here. Draft season.
The time of year where we all get to play armchair GM and fix our favorite teams by drafting from the latest group of stars from the college ranks. As such, I will be posting a mock draft every other week from now until the draft as we get more information from events like the Combine, Pro Days, Free Agency, and just general rumors and statements from the team.
To help me try and stay at least somewhat realistic, I will use one of the mock draft simulators out there. There are a few good options that get updated regularly and they all have their tendencies and quirks. This week I’ll be using the mock draft machine from The Draft Network .
The Chargers are in a different position than the last couple of drafts where due to their draft position and fairly wide set of needs that have similar urgency, they could go in a bunch of directions in the early rounds (which is partly why Free Agency will likely have a fairly big shift in the strategy going into the draft this year).
Since it is so early in the process, I will be drafting for what I would do if I was the GM. As we get closer to the draft and have more of the full picture, I’ll start changing the mock draft to be more of a prediction of what I think the team would do based on the board.
Let’s get into it.
Round 1, Pick 17 - Garrett Wilson, WR Ohio State
There are some good options available with the Chargers now on the clock at 17. At WR, only Arkansas monster Treylon Burks is off the board (damn), so the top names available there are Jameson Williams, Drake London, Garrett Wilson, and Jahan Dotson. At CB both Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Andrew Booth Jr are available. At Defensive Tackle, DeMarvin Leal, and a riser due to a stellar Senior Bowl week Perrion Winfrey are all on the board.
Outside of those names, I don’t think there is anyone still available that I would be happy with in the 1st at 17. With QB’s Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral still available and two of the next three teams on the board being the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom need Quarterbacks, this would likely be a situation where the phone would be ringing with some trade offers. The Steelers might want to come up and get “their guy” ahead of the Saints, or maybe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to come up and replace Tom Brady? I won’t do a trade for this mock, but that’s a possibility if this is how the board shakes out.
Ultimately, I think I’ll go with Garrett Wilson here. He is an extremely polished and intelligent route runner. He is more than athletic enough and has good size. Ideally I would have loved to be able to take a game changer like Jameson Williams here, but with Williams tearing his ACL in January, he’s likely on the injured reserve for his entire rookie season, maybe a little less if they’re lucky. Wilson instantly becomes the best receiver on the Chargers roster, even if they bring Mike Williams back, and helps them win now.
Round 2, Pick 48 - Phidarian Mathis, DT Alabama
When the Chargers are on the clock for the first time in day 2 at pick 48, the board still looks pretty good, and they still have a handful of positions they need to fix. The position with the most talent available is Edge. Logan Hall, Kingsley Enagbare, and Myjai Sanders are both available and both had great senior bowl showings. At OT Bernhard Raimann and Darian Kinnard are both there. At IOL Sean Rhyan, Dylan Parham, and Ed Ingram are all available. At DT Phidarian Mathis is the only name I’d take in round 2 (Travis Jones went 3 picks earlier to the Baltimore Ravens). The last position with some interesting names, though it isn’t the biggest position of need, is TE with Isaiah Likely and Tre McBride still available.
As I’m going with what I would likely do, I can’t talk myself out of Phidarian Mathis here. The Chargers need DT help in the worst way, and Mathis brings interior pressure better than anyone the Chargers have on the roster right now, something that was painfully absent last year. I really like both Logan Hall and Kingsley Enagbare, but if they re-sign Uchenna Nwosu this is a much smaller need, whereas if they re-sign every FA DT, Mathis still starts over all of them.
Round 3, pick 79 - Boye Mafe, EDGE Minnesota
When I was on the clock in round 3 the top names available were pretty interesting. At WR, Skyy Moore, Calvin Austin III, Wan’Dale Robinson, and George Pickens were all there. At EDGE Boye Mafe and Sam Williams were available, as well as EDGE/LB Jesse Luketa. At OL Tyler Smith from Tulsa and Ed Ingram are the only names that really interested me here.
This was a tough decision. On the one hand both Sam Williams and Boye Mafe have great size and athleticism on the edge to go along with great college production. On the other hand, I think I have WR as a bigger need than most, and they need more than 1 guy between the draft and FA that can come in and start. And one of the biggest things they need at the WR position is a guy who can create after the catch. Well Sky Moore, Calvin Austin III, and Wan’Dale Robinson are ALL guys that make their money off creating after the catch. And funnily enough, they’re all right around 5’7”. Meanwhile, George Pickens is a guy that a lot of people agree has 1st round talent, he definitely has 1st round size at 6’3 205, but there are some question marks around his health that need to be answered.
I really liked all these names here but I’m going to go with Boye Mafe since the WR position has better depth in this class than Edge, and without knowing how the Mike Williams situation plays out, it’s too early to double dip.
Round 4, pick 121 - Ed Ingram, G LSU
In round 4 there were a few guys that were starting to slip a bit. Jesse Luketa at LB/EDGE and Ed Ingram at IOL are two guys that I mentioned above that have fallen and are still available. Luketa would be fun, but with the team drafting Chris Rumph last year and possibly bringing back Nwosu, I can’t justify taking him here after grabing Mafe last round.
Coby Bryant is there at CB and is a name that is becoming pretty popular in the middle rounds. At RB (the 4th is the earliest I’d take a RB but it is a need) Jerome Ford and Tyler Badie are both there and are guys that show some juice that the Chargers don’t really have in their RB room. At DT big John Ridgeway (one of my favorites in this draft) is available as well.
I went with Ed Ingram however. The Chargers need a starting RG and Ingram had a fantastic Senior Bowl week, including being named the O-Lineman of the week for the American team by his teammates. He’s strong, violent, nasty, and like Rashawn Slater, is working with Offensive Line coach/trainer Duke Manyweather this offseason.
Round 5, pick 159 - Cole Turner, TE Nevada
I’ve been doing a few mock draft sims already this offseason and this pick is becoming a very strong trend with me. I’m not even really going to list the options here because Cole Turner is apparently “my guy” in the 5th. He’s got great size at 6’6” 250. He’s a willing blocker but could improve there. But where he really shines is in the red zone, hauling in 19 TDs over the last 2 seasons with his ability to bring in jump balls over basically everyone. With Trey McKitty currently the only TE under contract for 2022, they’re likely going to need to draft another TE anyway, so bring in the guy who can help the most in the red zone.
Round 6, pick 193 - Tyler Allgeier, RB BYU
We can thank our buddy Garrett Sisti for this one. He showed pointed me to look at Allgeier’s tape and I was not disappointed. Allgeier is a BRUISER at RB. For those of us looking for a good excuse to get rid of Joshua Kelley, Allgeier is that excuse. Just to put a number on how hard he is to bring down: in the last 2 years he has 1,857 yards rushing AFTER contact. The next closest is Kenneth Walker with 1,667.
Round 6, pick 214 - Neil Farrell Jr, NT LSU
In round 6 I go back and get the team a new NT. Farrell is another guy who made himself some money with a strong Senior Bowl week and might not be around this late when the draft actually happens. He’s almost 6’4” and weighed in at 338 pounds at the Senior Bowl. He’s tough at the point of attack and a true NT.
Round 7, pick 233 - Jermaine Waller, CB Virginia Tech
Waller has good size at 6’1 185 pounds. In the 2 seasons that he played the full year and was a starter, he totaled 15 PDs and 7 INTs along with 92 tackles. He seems like a Brandon Staley guy in that he has a high football IQ, played QB in highschool, and is a willing and aggressive tackler who has good ball skills in coverage.
Round 7, pick 252 - Jerreth Sterns, WR Western Kentucky
Sterns is along the lines of the smaller WRs I mentioned up in round 3. He’s somewhere around 5’7-5’8, about 185 pounds, but very quick, very tough, sure handed, and makes things happen before and after the catch. This year alone he had 150(!) catches which he took for 1902 yards and 17 touchdowns. Anybody with numbers like that from a single season is more than worth a 7th round pick.
Round 7, pick 253 - Best Punter Available
The TDN mock draft machine doesn’t include special teams players, but somewhere here at the end of day 3, the Chargers would be wise to use a draft pick on a Punter, and probably a kicker as well. Ty Long has been okay, but the Chargers would benefit from a punter who can get the ball off his foot faster, and not out kick his coverage as often.
Round 7, pick 255 - Best KR Available
This is an area I have set to start scouting in the next week or so, but the Chargers should grab a kick returner as well. We don’t know if they’re bringing back Andre Roberts, who was great, but even if they do, he is 34. Bring in some new blood.