It is officially 24 hours until the 2023 NFL draft. All the time for mock drafts and speculation is winding to a close and we are all about to see how this all plays out.
In honor of Draftmas eve, here is my predictive mock draft. This is a bit of how I would want the Chargers to draft, but a lot of my selections are based on things we may have heard throughout the process, and some trends that the Chargers tend to like.
Let’s get into it!
Round 1 - WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
Zay Flowers making it to 21 would be kind of a dream come true. He brings so much that the Chargers wide receiver room doesn’t currently have. He is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, he is an explosive athlete, and he can create after the catch. Zay is undersized based on what the Chargers like at the position but he has the toughness and athletic ability to more than make up for it. So much so that there are reports the Chargers are willing to expand their normal measurable thresholds for him. The Chargers have said they want to add pass catchers and Flowers is easily a top-3 wideout in this class, with some rankings having him as high as WR1.
Round 2 - LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
The Chargers have been reported to be high on Simpson and likely wouldn’t expect him to be here at 54. If he falls I think they pull the trigger. He is young for this class as he will be 22 when the season starts. Simpson is very athletic with a 9.85 RAS, including a 4.43 40-yard dash. He also has the production this staff loves, totaling 165 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five passes defended, and three forced fumbles in his three years at Clemson. He is rangy and a powerful tackler with long arms. Pairing him up with Kenneth Murray and having them both continue to learn from this coaching staff as well as veteran addition in Eric Kendricks could give the Chargers one of the most athletic LB rooms in the league for years to come.
#2 Trenton Simpson— Just Eric (@JUSTERIC__) April 23, 2023
Perfect blend of size and speed ‼️
Some said he could be a Micah parsons type player
A violent tackler and elite athlete that needs some molding but would be the perfect Chess piece in any defense pic.twitter.com/qheThc8UUC
Round 3 - CB Cory Trice, Purdue
With Michael Davis a free agent after this season, and Brandon Staley saying multiple times how a team can never have enough good corners, I think Trice is exactly the kind of player they’d like to add. He has an amazing size/speed combination at 6’3 and 206 pounds with a 4.47 40 yard dash and elite agility scores including a 6.7 3-cone. Trice is also a converted safety, which Brandon Staley is sure to love. He has the size and length to excel as a press-man corner but also the agility and speed to play well in zone schemes. He’s also the kind of size/speed a special teams coach would love to have as a gunner.
Need to add size in the defensive backfield?#Purdue CB Cory Trice— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) April 26, 2023
32 3/8 arms
Monster in press coverage
51.3 QB rating when targeted
Round 4 - TE Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion
The Chargers are looking to make an improvement to the tight end group and the third and fourth round is usually where Tom Telesco picks a smaller school project with a lot of upside. Well, that is Zack Kuntz. Kuntz put together the highest RAS score of all time for a tight end with a perfect 10.0. At over 6’7 and 255 pounds, Kuntz ran a 4.55, had a sub-seven second 3-cone, and a 40” vertical jump. The thought of a red-zone package with Kuntz, Donald Parham, and Mike Williams is enough to make me smile bigger than Keenan Allen on the Masked Singer.
7. Zack Kuntz— Jesse Moeller (@JMoeller05) April 26, 2023
A former 4 star prospect, who transferred to Old Dominion and took off. Is the a most athletic player in the history of the position. pic.twitter.com/h0cEa43UtE
Round 5 - EDGE/LB Yasir Abdullah, Louisville
Abdullah is another guy that is an elite athlete with the versatility that both Staley and Telesco value in their players. He is a bit of a ‘tweener coming in just under 6’1 and 237 pounds, however he ran a 4.47 40 yard dash with an amazing 1.48 10-yard split as well as elite jumps. He uses his burst very well as a pass rusher and it shows with his 19.5 sacks over the last two seasons to go along with his 31 tackles for loss. What makes him more appealing, however, is that he looks very natural dropping into coverage and has two interceptions and seven passes defended in the last two years, as well. He seems to always be around the ball and makes plays when he is, forcing five fumbles the last two seasons.
I've been looking for an off-ball LB that can passrush, but maybe that's backwards. A passrusher that can play off the ball. Yasir Abdullah looking pretty damn good at both. pic.twitter.com/XWRZ5qUuab— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) January 21, 2023
Round 6 - OG/C Jon Gaines II, UCLA
Jon Gaines is a lot like Abdullah in that he is an elite athlete that is a bit of a project to develop. He has starting experience at every position on the line other than LT, which Telesco loves in his backup linemen, and as I pointed out in my article yesterday, his 4.45 short shuttle is fast enough to check the box for that 4.47 threshold that almost guarantees success at the NFL level for an OG. The Chargers were sure to have seen him a lot with him being a local prospect and I’m sure he’s on their radar.
Excellent rep here by UCLA G/C Jon Gaines II. PERFECT fit for Cleveland’s offense.— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) April 21, 2023
Exceptional mover with the strength to bully defenders off the ball at the point of attack.
30+ collegiate starts.
Ideal 5th-6th round pick for the #Browns.
Round 7 - WR Derius Davis, TCU
Davis is another smaller receiver like Flowers, but he can fly with a 4.36 40-yard dash. He is weapon that TCU used in a bunch of ways including 28 carries in his time there to go along with his 112 receptions. He also can help fill the hole left by Deandre Carter as he has 52 career kick returns and 44 punt returns, with one kick return touchdown and five punt returns for touchdowns. He’d primarily be drafted as a return specialist but if he shows some deep threat ability, even better.