It’s not often that a prospect selected on the third day of the NFL draft gets the chance to come in and play a ton of snaps as a rookie. If they do, it usually means something went terribly wrong due to an injury or something else out of the control of the team.
When the injury bug bit Rashawn Slater in week three of the 2022 season, 2022 sixth-rounder Jamaree Salyer was luckily there to save the day. He started every game from week five on, including the team’s playoff matchup with the Jaguars. He was rock steady throughout that span, but again, that’s rather on the unusual side.
Now heading into the 2023 campaign, could the Chargers wind up with another day-three rookie in the starting lineup by the end of the season? That’s certainly what Chad Reuter of NFL.com believes could be the case in regards to sixth-round rookie Scott Matlock, an athletic defensive tackle out of Boise State.
“I projected the Chargers to select Matlock in advance of the draft because he’s a perfect fit on the defensive line. His power and underrated quickness will earn him a spot on the field, and I expect his snap scout to increase at 5-technique as the season wears on.”
As the roster stands today, both Sebastian Joseph-Day (5-technique) and Austin Johnson (nose tackle) are locked in as two of the team’s starting defensive tackles in their base 3-4 defensive front. While Morgan Fox seems like the logical third starter, it will be interesting to see if Brandon Staley wants to continue using Fox as a situational pass rusher off the bench. If that’s the case, where does 2022 fifth-rounder Otito Ogbonnia mainly play? Will it be squarely at nose or will he get some run at 5-tech? If it’s the former, then I could see Matlock potentially being the team’s third starter at 5-tech opposite Joseph-Day sooner rather than later.
Good fit for Scott Matlock to land with the Chargers. Can play 3T and 5T. Really tough football player with a great motor. Fantastic athlete. Heavy hands that show up as a pass rusher: pic.twitter.com/VJRDVIdSJm— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) April 29, 2023
Of course we can’t forget either Chris Hinton and David Moa who both played sparingly down the stretch this past season, but as of now those two both seem like bottom of the roster depth as opposed to players pushing for any real playing time in 2023.
Do you all agree with Reuter’s prediction for Matlock? Could you see the sixth-round rookie earning a starting role by season’s end? Let me know all of your thoughts below!