The 2023 NFL draft is right around the corner and it’s time for all of us to plant our final flags on which prospects we would bang the table for.
These are not meant to be players that we believe the Chargers should draft, necessarily, although we likely wouldn’t be all that mad if they did. These are simply players that — no matter where they end up after the next three days — we believe they’ll go on to have a successful or notable career in the NFL.
Let’s go ahead and dive right in.
TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa
Simply put, they don’t make them like LaPorta every year.
Despite a minor size issue (6’3 245 pounds) LaPorta is every bit the best playmaker in this draft at the tight end position. The fact he put up the numbers and film that he did while playing in one of the worst offenses in the country over the past two seasons should honestly make him a first-round pick by itself.
LaPorta runs like a man possessed when he catches passes in stride and there was no other game where he showed his playmaking prowess more than in his final game for the Hawkeyes against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Sam LaPorta treating Kentucky like they're all his little brothers pic.twitter.com/WFroiy7WXP— Heavens! (@HeavensFX) December 31, 2022
He’ll work his tail off as a run blocker but some offensive coordinator is going to get one heck of a weapon to utilize at the next level.
WR Josh Downs, North Carolina
If Downs was just a bit bigger, he’d potentially be in the conversation as a bonafide first-round pick. The thing about Downs is that he’s so good, it’s almost boring. You know exactly what you’re getting out of him and he does it game-in and game-out. He’ll line up all over the field but mainly do his best work in the slot where he’ll likely break off a cornerbacks ankles en route to catching a wide open touchdown inside the 10-yard line.
Downs was uber-productive for the Tar Heels while catching passes from Drake Maye, a potential top pick in next year’s draft. In my opinion, Downs’ potential career arc could easily look like Terry McLaurin’s who continues to find success every year no matter who is throwing him the football.
Enjoyed watching Josh Downs the last couple years. Will be a productive NFL WR imo pic.twitter.com/UdRi5TKjbq— Billy M (@BillyM_91) April 19, 2023
LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
The Chargers passed on 2022 draft darling Leo Chenal as he slipped from his second-round projection and fell to the back end of the third round. Many saw Chenal as the perfect plug-and-play linebacker in Staley’s defense, capable of shoring up the run defense, adding some interior pass rush, and physicality in the middle.
This year, Telesco has a similar opportunity in Jack Campbell. He doesn’t have the eye-popping athleticism that general managers salivate over in the early rounds, but he is the ideal middle linebacker for Staley’s scheme. He posted an incredible 92.9 PFF grade in coverage last year, and his 6’5 246 pound frame will hold up against second-level blockers when Staley runs his base-nickel package. His depth-of-tackle won’t leap off the page for most coaches looking for a true run-stuffing linebacker, but for a coach that runs a gap-and-a-half defensive front where linebackers clean up around the line of scrimmage rather than penetrating it, he’s a match made in heaven.
EDGE Zach Harrison, Ohio State
Tom Telesco has limited his round one selections to immediate starters, so I have a hard time believing EDGE will be our pick in the first round. Zach Harrison seems like an ideal round three fit. After giving up explosive runs off-tackle at an alarming rate in 2022, Telesco should recognize that selecting developmental “tweeners” at the EDGE position like Chris Rumph II doesn’t line up with the team’s “win-now” mentality.
If Staley wants “tough and rugged,” he’ll take the elite physical profile of Zach Harrison and trust his veterans Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack to develop him into a star. There isn’t an EDGE prospect that has more to gain from having a true leader and mentor like Khalil Mack to show him how to succeed at this level.
Zach Harrison can really work the short corner pic.twitter.com/NUsEJZKEZZ— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) August 3, 2022
WR, Andrei Iosivas, Princeton
Apologies are in order, as I continue to spam Iosivas to this community. However, as other wide recievers continue to gain notoriety and steal attention leading up to the draft, Tom has to keep an eye on the production he can gain from the day three prospects in the draft to help his early round decision making.
Simply put - Herbert doesn’t need the best wide receiver in the draft to unleash the potential in this offense. In his rookie year, he made awe-inspiring throws when Shane Steichen let him stretch the field with UDFA Tyron Johnson and a second year UDFA Jaylen Guyton.
Andrei Iosivas is a day three receiver with 6’3 size, a 4.43 forty, and exceptional agility for a man his size. At the absolute worst, you have a player that excels as a field-stretching role role-player, freeing up Keenan and MWill underneath. If Andrei lives up to his potential and sleeper-hype, he has the ceiling eventually take over as a WR1b.
WR Charlie Jones, Purdue
Jones has an amazing feel for soft spots in zone coverage with good hands and a record of contributing on special teams. He isn’t going to be a WR1 anywhere that he goes and maybe not even WR2, but I can’t help but get the feeling he’s a guy that will stick around in the NFL for the next 10 years.