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Chargers reinforce run defense in new 2024 mock draft

Jenkins will be looked to as a leader of the Wolverines defense after teammate Mazi Smith was drafted in the first round.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

We’re still quite a long ways from next year’s NFL draft but no length of time has ever stopped anyone from delving into a fresh mock draft. Today, I’m bringing you another early 2024 mock draft where ESPN NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid has the Chargers selecting a high-upside defensive tackle in the hopes of further reinforcing the team’ leaky run defense.

With the 22nd-overall pick, Reid has the Chargers selecting Michigan defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. At 6’3 and 285 pounds, Jenkins doesn’t have notable “run-stuffing” size at the point of attack but his athleticism is above-average for the position and it sounds like many believe he’ll continue to grow into his frame throughout what could be his final year with the Wolverines.

“The Chargers’ run defense surrendered a league-high 5.4 yards per carry last season, and the front seven lacks depth behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack,” says Reid. “Jenkins is expected to make a significant leap in his development, and while he is still filling out his 6-foot-3, 285-pound frame, his movement skills and first-step quickness are really solid. His performance against Ohio State (seven tackles, three pressures) provided a glimpse of his upside.”

Through Jenkins’ first two seasons in Ann Arbor, he played in 15 games with four starts. As a sophomore 2021, he recorded 22 tackles and a lone tackle for loss. He finally took a step forward in his progression with a big 2022 season that included 54 total tackles (led all defensive linemen), 3.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks while playing alongside 2023 first-round pick, Mazi Smith.

Now with Smith in the NFL, the Wolverines will look to Jenkins to be one of their leaders entering the 2023 season.

After watching some quick tape of Jenkins, I definitely came away feeling like the potential is there. He’s got great size throughout his midsection and definitely fits the bill as a future NFL defensive lineman but I do wonder if he’s got the ideal length to play anywhere but the interior. I don’t think his range as a tackle is all that great but he moves well in a phone booth so as long as he’s not expected to make a ton of chase-down tackles, I think he’ll be a productive contributor to a future pro club.