When Brandon Staley took over as head coach of the Chargers, he didn’t waste much time in fleshing out his plan for the 2021 Chargers. One of those goals was to make them a better team at the line of scrimmage. That meant bigger, faster, and stronger guys to play in the trenches on either side of the ball.
In his first offseason, Staley made a point to add Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler to the offensive line on top of drafting Rashawn Slater in the first. This offseason, he did the same thing with the other side of the ball by signing both Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson to fill out the interior of the front seven. Add in Khalil Mack and that front seven is immediately one of the more intimidating fronts in football.
But with the draft still in front of us, how many more upgrades will the Chargers make amongst the trenches?
In ESPN’s latest three-round mock, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay combine their efforts to go through the first three rounds. With the two picks the Chargers have over the first two days, Kiper paired them with — literally — the two biggest players in the entire draft: Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele.
“Are you surprised? I don’t think the need for a run-stopper like Davis is as big as it once was, considering the Chargers signed Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson,” notes Kiper in regards to his selection at 17. “But this 341-pounder has been a popular mock draft pick here, and he would only help improve a miserable run defense.
At 341 pounds and standing at a legitimate 6’6, it’s tough to find many players who came into the NFL any bigger. The standout with the Bulldogs was the darling of the 2022 NFL Combine after running an insane 4.77 in the forty and jumping 32 inches in the vertical.
Davis may not have blown many away with his season state line of 32 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and two sacks, but the film will show you a monolithic menace that wreaked havoc in opposing backfields all day long. David didn’t need to make every play for his team. Georgia had arguably the fastest defense in the country and his disruption spilled plenty of plays into the waiting arms of his teammates.
The 2021 First-Team All-American would complete a defensive line overhaul for the Chargers and set that unit up for immense success in the coming years.
Here's Jordan Davis eating a quarterback pic.twitter.com/4f36cVEAuf— Justis Mosqueda (4 top-59 picks haver) (@JuMosq) February 20, 2022
Now, how about that other giant that Kiper tabbed for the Chargers?
“A 6-foot-8, 384-pounder at right tackle opposite Rashawn Slater? In the third round? The Chargers would be pumped for this outcome, even if Faalele takes a bit of time to develop into a regular starter.”
I think I have to agree with Kiper here in that selecting a promising tackle in the third round would be the most-ideal move if they aren’t able to nab one in the first. It’s too big of a need and relying on a fourth-rounder or later pick to fill that void is just asking for more trouble.
With his massive size, Faalele’s innate physical attributes will keep him ahead of the curve as he moves forward into a progression. Opposing defenders will simply find it much harder to go around him and through him. That’s not a bad place to start. He’s one of those players that, if you happen to get caught in his grasp, the play is probably over for you. With 35-inch hands, you’re likely not going anywhere and if you do manage to escape, the play is probably effectively over at that point.
But like any raw, “projects” at the position, he still has his growing pains. The position doesn’t look as natural as you’d like and he’ll struggle with agile defenders in space. But again, if a rusher wants to run the loop around him, that’s probably okay.
Faalele has only been playing football competitively since 2017 and it’s an amazing feat that’s even here in his football career. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the chances of him being a star greatly outweigh his bust potential, but it’s tough not to get excited about where he can go once an NFL offensive line coach gets his hands on him.