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BFTB staff grades for the 2023 Chargers draft class

Your BFTB staff give you their takes on the Chargers 2023 draft...good and bad.

NFL Combine - Portraits Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

The 2023 Chargers draft has concluded, and the culmination of weeks of lead time has finally come to a close. As Tom Telesco begins rounding out our camp roster with UDFA signings and potential post-draft veteran signings, the Bolts From The Blue Staff are here to give you their grades on each pick

Chargers Picks

Round 1, Pick 21: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

Michael’s Grade: C+

Matthew’s Grade: B

Kyle’s Grade: C-

Kyle’s Notes:

“Full disclosure, I view grades like school teacher. A C is dead average in my eyes... it passes, and eventually gets you a degree. But you’re not going to impress any colleges with a C average, and there was certainly room for you to do better. The Johnston pick was slightly below average to me, coming in at a C-. It addressed a need, it gave Herbert a new weapon, and it prepares our transition from Mike Williams or Keenan Allen. Johnston even provides an extra YAC component that is missing from our team, although I believe it to be slightly overstated as much of his YAC seems to comes from the same buttonhook-and-pivot move.

The real frustration for me with this pick is that in his 10th season, and boasting a sub-.500 record, Telesco isn’t learning and still refuses to trade down. Many needs were left unaddressed in this draft because he stayed pat, and anyone who has done mock drafts this season knew that would be the case as soon as “The Pick Is In” flashed on our screens.”

Round 2, Pick 54: EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

Michael’s Grade: B-

Matthew’s Grade: B

Kyle’s Grade: C+

Michael’s Notes:

Tuipulotu plays a premium position and is only 20 years old at the time he was drafted. He wins with power, a non-stop motor, and a power bull rush that helped him record a nation-leading 13.5 sacks in 2022. Add in his 22 tackles for loss (second nationally) and you’ve got one heck of a player with a nose for disrupting.

The former Trojan is a bit of a ‘tweener as he supposedly played on the edge at 290 pounds during the 2022 season before showing up at the NFL combine at 266 pounds. As of now, it sounds like Brandon Staley plans to play Tuipulotu mainly on the edge with him kicking inside for specific third-down packages.

Round 3, Pick 85: LB Daiyan Henley, Washington State

Michael’s Grade: B

Matthew’s Grade: B -

Kyle’s Grade: B-

Michael’s Notes:

All it took was one video of Henley following his selection to convince you that’s he’s going to quickly become a favorite among the fan base. His personality is electric and infectious, not unlike his play on the field actually.

Henley will certainly be the team’s LB3 and should push for more playing time throughout the season if Kenneth Murray doesn’t take another step forward. His ability to sift through trash between the tackles and find ball-carriers is elite but it’s a fine line to walk when you’re barely pushing 230 pounds at 6’0. Henley will make most of his money running sideline-to-sideline while covering up running backs and tight ends alongside Eric Kendricks.

Round 4, Pick 125: WR/KR Derius Davis, TCU

Michael’s Grade: C-

Matthew’s Grade: C +

Kyle’s Grade: C-

Michael’s Notes:

In 2020, the Vikings and Chargers each spent fifth-round picks on wide receivers KJ Osborn and Joe Reed, respectively, because they were deemed the best available return men left on the board. The idea behind picking Davis this high is very similar. The Chargers didn’t get what they wanted out of Reed and felt that potentially filling this need on special teams was worth an early pick on day three.

For the Chargers, I certainly hope this one pans out because this was quite the reach for a player many deemed a potential seventh-round pick with the chance to go undrafted, as well. Davis was TCU’s third-leading receiver in 2022 and most of it came on deep routes where he was able to sneak behind the defense.

The Chargers wanted speed at the wide receiver position. While this “technically” counts, it’s hard to imagine Davis ever seeing snaps on offense when he’s coming in as WR6. This is where the lackluster grades come in. The Chargers spent a fourth-round pick on a special teams player. End sentence. That’s not what was expected when plenty of other needs remained, including tight end and cornerback.

Round 5, Pick 156: iOL Jordan McFadden, Clemson

Michael’s Grade: B

Matthew’s Grade: B

Kyle’s Grade: B

Kyle’s Notes:

“He’s not Luke Wypler, who I was pounding the table for. However, Duke Manyweather signed off on McFadden immediately after the pick, and that says something.

In reviewing his film, you see a player that is extremely fundamentality sound, and does an amazing job picking up work. Picking up a stunt appears effortless to him, and he worked well with his left guard time and time again. Perhaps most importantly, he was an outstanding run blocker when he got out to the open. He’s not the “center of the future” I was hoping we’d take, but you can see him developing into the player we need should Linsley’s knees give him more issues.”

Round 6, Pick 200: DT Scott Matlock, Boise State

Michael’s Grade: B+

Matthew’s Grade: A-

Kyle’s Grade: A-

Kyle’s Notes:

“Given the round Scott was drafted in, I love the athletic profile and versatility he provides. I expect him to get to his gap assignment quickly, and have the athleticism to work through his matchup to cover his half-gap assignment as well. He’s the type of strong depth piece that is so valuable to add to your roster late in the draft, and why teams should always be looking to add additional picks on day three.”

Round 7, Pick 239: Max Duggan, TCU

Michael’s Grade: D-

Matthew’s Grade: F

Kyle’s Grade: D-

Michael’s Notes:

This picks just screams “cute” to me. I’ve always admired Brandon Staley’s affinity for creating strong, lasting relationships on the team. In fact, the synergistic effect he’s going for here with the TCU connections is the only thing keeping me from giving this pick an “F.”

The Chargers had other needs here with plenty of players worthy of a dart throw still on the board. This was an odd luxury pick and I can’t bring myself to believe Duggan would have been picked by another team before the end of the draft. Then, if Duggan was set to be a UDFA, why wouldn’t he end up coming to the Chargers anyway after they drafted two of his top three receivers from a season ago?

This pick could have been used on a cornerback or one of the notable running backs still miraculously on the board. Every one of these picks needed to move the needle in some way and I don’t see how this one helps anyone feel better about their job security.