Every year, ESPN senior draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay combine to make at least one mock draft where they collaborate by alternating picks. In their latest, Kiper and McShay cover the first three rounds with Kiper making every odd pick and McShay covering the even numbers.
For the Chargers, McShay and Kiper kick things off with giving Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense a new weapon on the outside. In the second, they reinforce the defensive trenches before giving the Bolts some insurance in the wake of the Austin Ekeler situation by nabbing an electric running back in the third.
Let’s go ahead and dive in to these picks.
21.) WR Jordan Addison, USC
What Mel Kiper had to say:
“Addison would mesh well with the skill sets of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen in L.A., likely playing mostly in the slot. He is the best route runner of the wideouts in this class.”
Addison won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2021 as the nation’s top wide receiver following a massive final season at Pittsburgh. He caught 17 touchdowns and racked up 1,593 receiving yards on 100 receptions before taking his talents to USC to play under prospective top 2024 draft pick, quarterback Caleb Williams. During the 2022 season, Addison missed several games but still managed to lead the Trojans in receiving with 875 yards and nine touchdowns.
Addison doesn’t offer elite speed, which many would say is what the Chargers are lacking, but his combination of route-running nuance and football IQ allow him to work his way open consistently regardless of the coverage in front of him.
He’s a high-floor prospect that many believe could end up being the best receiver in the draft. If that’s the case, getting him at No. 21 is just fine.
Could Jordan Addison be the first WR taken off the board in the 2023 Draft? @Espn_Jordan | @uscfb— Original NFL streams | Reddit NFL streams NFLbite (@nflbite_) April 15, 2023
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54.) DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
What Todd McShay had to say:
“The Chargers allowed 5.4 yards per rush last season, by far the worst in the NFL. Benton has the power to stuff runs at the line of scrimmage and the quickness to make plays behind it.”
The massive 6’4, 310-pound Benton was a starter for the majority of his four seasons at Wisconsin and offers an elite level of experience coming out of the rough-and-tough Big Ten Conference. In 2021, Benton played a key role in leading Wisconsin to the nation’s top rushing defense en route to being named a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection. He finished his career with nine sacks and 19 tackles for loss as an extremely stout and powerful presence among the interior.
The Chargers have two starters already, plus second-year player Otito Ogbonnia, but Benton offers a bit more flexible to play either of the three interior positions, especially in heavier packages.
Keeanu Benton lol sure that play worked on the whiteboard pic.twitter.com/dQQLfbY0XJ— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 30, 2023
85.) RB Devon Achane, Texas A&M
What Kiper had to say:
“My comp for Achane? Darren Sproles. That’s because Achane has a ton of value as a returner and in the pass game. He needs to hit his ceiling to be as productive as Sproles, of course, but he is my third-ranked back in this class. We know Austin Ekeler has requested a trade, which creates some uncertainty for the Chargers. This would be great insurance.”
Could the Chargers really grab another Texas A&M rusher in back-to-back drafts? Kiper believes that could be the case should the Bolts want to find a potential Ekeler replacement with a similar skillset.
Achane doesn’t blow anyone away with his size (5’8, 188 pounds) but he sure plays bigger than he is. Whether it’s between the tackles or out, Achane will work to gain the tough yards or simply blow by defenders with his 4.32 speed.
During the 2021 season, behind current Charger back Isaiah Spiller, Achane still managed to rush for 910 yards and nine touchdowns. As the lead back in 2022, he recorded 1,102 yards and right touchdowns to go with 312 receiving yards and a lone score. His final season with the Aggies was capped off with a First-Team All-SEC honor as both a running back and all-purpose player.
For good measure, Achane ran on the Aggies Track & Field Team where he was a part of an All-American 4x100-meter relay team.