The 2023 NFL draft week is finally here, which means it’s time to blast mock drafts and get our fill of predictions done before the actual draft takes place.
The first version of my mock draft is going to take a look at what I personally would do. I know this one won’t be for everyone but if we were in a perfect world where I am the general manager of the Los Angeles Chargers, here is how I would draft today.
I’ll be using the PFF Mock Draft simulator for my mocks. I’ve been playing around with four of five of the mock draft simulators out there and this is the one that FEELS the most realistic to me. There are always a few surprises, like in the results for my draft today, but overall it feels more realistic than the others I’ve used this year.
Round 1, Pick 21 - Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
Nolan Smith falling to the Chargers at 21 felt like I had to run that pick to the podium. Yes it would have been nice to get a wide receiver in the first round, but Nolan Smith’s freakish athleticism in Brandon Staley’s defense, with the complementary pieces the Chargers have makes this too good of a pick to pass up on. Plus, the value of a premium edge rusher on a rookie contract is nice, too. He’s a vocal leader in the locker room, which the Chargers love, and if even a little of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack’s pass rushing prowess rubs off on him to add to his athleticism, look out.
Coming around on Nolan Smith at #10:— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 18, 2023
• Relentless off the edge
• Explosive first step
• Tremendous run defender
• Undersized but uses his strength well
A Nolan Smith/Haason Reddick pairing has the potential to be lethal. You can never have enough pass-rushers. pic.twitter.com/r4uFYUMw9f
Round 2, Pick 54 - Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Based on who was available at 54 I was pretty happy to have LaPorta as an option. He’s not the biggest or fastest TE but he is still one of the best playmakers at the position. He lead the FBS in forced missed tackles by a tight end this season and has surprisingly good YAC ability. He isn’t an outstanding blocker but he isn’t a liability either and does enough there to stay on the field a lot. There is buzz going around as of this morning (April 24th) that he could be drafted BEFORE Darnell Washington, so NFL teams definitely like him as well. As far as what makes him a great fit for the Chargers: He was a team captain, known as a smart and hard working player, and the Chargers have Nick Niemann from Iowa, as well as a few coaches with Iowa connections.
Round 3, Pick 85 - A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forrest
Since this is my first mock and the one I’m probably going to have the most fun with, I have to include the player at the top of the “my guys” list for this season, A.T. Perry. Perry is one of the bigger WRs in this class of little guys at 6’3 and a half, 199 pounds. He just flat out produces on the field. Over the last two seasons he has 152 catches for 2,389 yards and 26 touchdowns. Despite being taller and around 200 pounds, he still ran a 4.47 in the 40 yard dash, with a 1.50 10 yard split, and a 6.81 3-cone. He is a bit older and will turn 24 during his rookie season, and he does need to improve after the catch, but he’s been one of my guys for over a year so I’m taking him here.
Round 4, Pick 125 - Ivan Pace Jr, LB, Cincinnati
Talk about another guy that “just produces” on the field, Cincinnati LB Ivan Pace is a tackling machine. In the last two seasons Pace has 261 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, seven passes defended, three forced fumbles and an interception. He’s a bit smaller than you’d like and isn’t an elite athlete but he is a monster on the field. He is a violent and sure tackler with great instincts. At a minimum he will be a star on special teams.
Round 5, Pick 156 - Juice Scruggs, OC, Penn State
Scruggs just feels like a Tom Telesco/Chargers pick but I also really like him as a player. He was a team captain, he has starting experience at both guard and center, and started all 26 games over the last two seasons. He tested pretty well and has great size for the position at just over 6’3 with 33.25” arms. Scruggs would be a big upgrade over Clapp and brings the versatility the Chargers love from their backup interior offensive linemen.
Round 6, Pick 200 - Matt Landers, WR, Arkansas
After waiting until the third round to grab a wide receiver, I wanted to double dip and decided to grab a deep threat option to compete with Jalen Guyton for the bottom of the depth chart as the deep threat option. He is 6’4 and 200 pounds and posted a blazing 4.37 in the 40 yard dash (.02 faster than Guyton while being 3” taller), had a 37” vertical jump and a 6.86 3-cone (also faster than Guyton). He is a late bloomer, only really breaking out the last two years at 22 and 23 years old, but he is a true deep threat the last two years with 67 receptions for 1,415 yards (an average of 21.1 yards per reception!) and 13 touchdowns.
Matt Landers is a WR prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.85 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 46 out of 3048 WR from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/6PyTvowX4E pic.twitter.com/Zjr9xZN7vu— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 16, 2023
Round 7, Pick 239 - Jake Witt, OT, Northern Michigan
In round seven, you want to bet it all on upside, and that is Jake Witt. He had insane testing numbers, especially for a guy who is 6’7 and 302 pounds. He had a 37” vertical jump and a 10’3 broad jump, and a 4.89 40 yard dash. Overall he had a 9.80 RAS which is good for the 27th best RAS score for an offensive tackle all time. He is a converted tight end that moved to left tackle in his senior season of college so he is extremely raw as a player. With the promise he showed despite limited experience, combined with his insanely high ceiling athletically, he’s a perfect late round pick that you make if you don’t want to risk him getting away as an UDFA.
Overall I like what happened with this draft class. I added a premium pass rusher in a mold that Staley likes and can only get better as he learns from the technicians the Chargers have at the position, bolstered the tight end and wide receiver rooms with solid players and a bit of upside, added to the linebacker room with a guy who will be a special teams stud, added quality depth along the interior of the offensive line while adding a developmental prospect at tackle late. It isn’t the sexiest draft but the Chargers would definitely be a better team than they are right now after this draft and would come away with multiple starting quality players. It’s also a pretty athletic group with an average RAS score of 8.74 for the class.