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Bolts From the Blue adds dynamic receiver Zay Flowers at No. 21

The Chargers need to plan for the future and Flowers solidifies the receiver room for the foreseeable future.

Florida State v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

With the 21st pick of the 2023 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select Zay Flowers, wide receiver from Boston College.

The Chargers are seemingly locked into taking a wide receiver in the first round. But head coach Brandon Staley made sure to let the media know that no matter what, they’re looking to maximize value in the first round, even if that means grabbing another position such as edge rusher or tight end.

In SB Nation’s community mock draft, both Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jordan Addison were selected ahead of the Chargers at No. 11 and 12, respectively. A number of players mocked to the Chargers up to this point were also off the board before No. 21, including tight end Michael Mayer, defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, and running back Bijan Robinson.

With most of the team’s best options already gone, Flowers becomes the best value pick for the Chargers, as it nails their top draft need while also giving them a player who should come right in and contribute for this team.

Both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both set to have cap hits of over $30 million in 2024. Unless a miracle happens, it’s unlikely both players will be on the team a year from now. After the two combined to miss 11 games in 2022, the Chargers can’t risk heading into a pivotal year without adding reinforcements to the position group. As it stands, John Hightower and Keelan Doss are the team’s only backups behind Allen, Williams, and Josh Palmer.

While Flowers doesn’t necessarily meet the usual size thresholds of a Tom Telesco receiver, he’s exactly what this team has been missing for a long time. The Chargers have been trying to get it done through the air with physical, possession-type receivers and that’s just not the way the modern NFL game is won. The Chiefs have terrorized NFL defenses by utilizing players with dynamic athleticism in the open field.

Joe Lombardi made Justin Herbert’s life much harder than it needed to be by running an offense that more than likely needed 13 plays to score as opposed to eight or nine. It expected perfection down-in and down-out and the ceiling was always limited by the lack of deep speed the Chargers had following the season-ending injury to Jalen Guyton.

Enter Flowers, who possesses a complete skillset to get the job done anywhere on the field.

While undersized for a traditional traditional receiver playing on the outside, Flowers is one of the best at tracking the ball in the air and making the tough catch just before he sticks his foot in the ground to earn some extra yards. Similar to the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, Flowers turns into a running back after the catch. He knows how to set up blocks down the field and his vision is outstanding.

In four seasons with the Golden Eagles, Flowers accumulated 200 receptions, 3,056 yards, and 29 touchdowns. He also chipped in a pair of touchdowns on the ground with 345 rushing yards on 57 carries (6.1 yards per carry).

His final collegiate season was his best yet as he posted 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns on 78 receptions. All were career highs and helped him rewrite the records for both career receptions and receiving yards. His 29 receiving scores leave him tied for the high mark in program history, as well.

The goal for the Chargers this year is to start building a receiving corps that will continue to perform well around Herbert long after the duo of Allen and Williams breaks up. It’s better to start sooner rather than later which means receiver must be taken with one of their first two picks. Fortunately in this mock, the Bolts landed one of the elite players out of the gate.

DraftKings Sportsbook is projecting the Chargers to take a wide receiver at No. 21, with +150 odds on it. The next most likely position the book thinks the Chargers will target at that spot is tight end. In this scenario, Flowers is the best fit for the Chargers.