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Prospects for the Chargers On Day 1


Over the past few seasons, it feels like the Chargers have been one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams year in and year out. With All-Pro and Pro-Bowl players such as Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Corey Linsley, Joey Bosa, Kahlil Mack, and Derwin James, the franchise has managed to make it only as far as getting eliminated in a forgettable matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fortunately, the NFL Draft is a time of new beginnings, a time to reinvigorate life into a football team. With the 21st overall pick on Day 1, the Chargers should have plenty of elite prospects available to fill a hole whether that be a WR, DB, TE, DL, or OL. So, who are some prospects for Bolt fans to keep an eye on Day 1?


1. Jaxson Smith-Njigba, WR – Ohio State University


  • Rose Bowl versus University of Utah. 
  • Route running.
  • Ability to track the ball. 
  • Willingness as a blocker. 
  • Reliable hands at the catchpoint. 


  • Consistency – most of production in one season. 
  • Hamstring injury limited him to two games in his final season. 
  • Likely viewed only as a slot option.


The player whom many view as the number one receiver in this year’s class, Jaxson Smith-Njigba’s performance against Utah in the Rose Bowl two years ago solidified his status as the best receiver going into last year’s collegiate season. However good he might be running routes and tracking the football mid-air, it’s difficult to deny how limited his use may be in the NFL. An excellent pickup for the Chargers at 21, he’d make an immediate impact from the slot but again, it’s difficult to project how he’d fair if asked to be the focal point of a passing game as he was never the primary target throughout his time in Columbus. 


2. Jordan Addison, WR – USC


  • Route running maestro. 
  • Elite start/stop ability. 
  • Experience. 
  • Good speed and athleticism leads to good after the catch gains. 
  • Willing blocker. 


  • Size. 
  • Ability to win contested catches. 
  • Ability to work through contact. 


A former Biletnikoff Award winner a few years back, Jordan Addison’s agility, route running prowess, speed, and athleticism, are apparent no matter which game of his you turn on. He’s a maestro working against almost any coverage and is crisp at the top of routes thanks to his excellent start/stop ability. Although his size and ability to work through contact is a major question mark, Jordan Addison could make the Chargers’s offense one of the most threatening in the NFL while also offering the team an option for life after Keenan Allen. 


3. Quentin Johnston, WR – TCU 


  • Big body with a large catch radius. 
  • Explosive playmaker. 
  • Reliable hands. 
  • Rare combination of size and speed. 


  • Reliability in jump ball and contested catch situations. 
  • Consistently defeating press coverage. 
  • Year to year consistency.


For most of this draft cycle TCU’s Quentin Johnston was regarded as the draft’s best wide receiver. However, as time went on, people began to catch on to his inefficiencies as a player and throughout his career. A rare combination of size and speed, Johnston definitely has the highest upside but the most risk out of any wideout in this year’s draft. Despite the risks that come with him, LA could be willing to take on the challenge of his development under the influences of Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Kellen Moore. But, for a team that’s in win now mode, they may be more apt to selecting a more ready now prospects. 


4. Zay Flowers, WR – Boston College


  • Explosive from the snap with great top-end speed to quickly gain ground. 
  • Good route running abilities on both the outside and from the slot. 
  • Very elusive after the catch in the open field. 
  • Good body control to work back to the ball. 
  • Correctly times jumps when needing to make catches in the air. 


  • Size and lack of arm length could be problematic in contested catch situations. 
  • Needs to read zone coverage better to sit in the holes. 
  • Seems to hurry himself up especially when blocking. 


A prospect who’s risen very quickly up draft boards the past few weeks, Zay Jones is a threat no matter where he aligns on the field. He’s fast, explosive, and has great body control to make him a threat in the air despite his size and lack of length. For the Chargers, he’ll primarily be used as a slot receiver but is just as good working on the outside. He needs to read coverages better and calm his body down when blocking but if selected by the Chargers, he presents them with both the ability to win now and succeed in the future. 


5. Darnell Wright, OT – University of Tennessee


  • Great combination of power and strength for an offensive tackle. 
  • Smooth and tight when pulling along the line of scrimmage. 
  • Good footwork moving forward and backward in pass protection to match speed rushers. 
  • Wide base to hold up against power moves. 
  • Slightly above average bend and flexibility. 


  • Will lunge forward on run blocks every now and then. 
  • More of a catcher in pass protection than his strength and power in his punch. 
  • Hands fall more on the outside than they do the inside. 


If it weren’t for him being a RT, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright would be labeled as the best OT in this year’s class. He’s a great combination of power and strength who’s also flexible and possesses great footwork. However, after signing OT Trey Pipkins to a 3 year deal worth over $21 million, it wouldn’t make sense for the club to exhaust such a high draft pick. Nevertheless, if they do opt to protect Justin Herbert’s front side and keep Trey Pipkins as a depth piece, Wright can be a franchise player that could make the Charger’s offensive line one of the better ones in the NFL. 


6. Dalton Kincaid, TE – University of Utah


  • Good size for NFL play. 
  • Soft hands and plenty of experience in passing game. 
  • Fluid route runner. 
  • Aggressive blocker. 


  • Can be overaggressive as a blocker. 
  • Susceptible to being rerouted on routes. 


After months of being evaluated, it appears that Utah’s Dalton Kincaid may have overthrown Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer as the top tight end prospect. With this being said, the Chargers need to get better at the tight end position with Gerald Everret going to be a free agent after this season. Kincaid has soft hands, more than enough experience in the passing game, is a fluid route runner, and a more than willing blocker. However, having Everrett on the roster this year could leave Los Angeles more willing to draft a middle or late round tight end to mold him in Kellen Moore’s offense. 


7. Michael Mayer, TE – Notre Dame


  • Big frame to absorb contact. 
  • Good speed for size.
  • Powerful blocker. 
  • Reliable hands in the passing game. 


  • Viewed only as a traditional tight end. 


For most of this year’s draft cycle, Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer seemed to be the best tight end prospect in this year’s draft. He’s a powerful blocker, has reliable hands, and has good speed for his large frame. However, some may only view him as a traditional tight end who isn’t athletic enough to expend a first round pick. Under offensive guru Kellen Moore, there’s no doubt he’ll find success although it may not be first round success. Because of this, the same argument rises as it would for Dalton Kincaid where the Bolts may be more willing to use a middle or late round pick to develop a tight end while drafting someone who could make more of an immediate impact. 


8. Nolan Smith, OLB – University of Georgia


  • His speed and short area burst makes easy work when blocked by tight ends. 
  • Runs good angles when tracking the football from behind. 
  • Uses leverage and speed to generate power at the point of impact. 
  • Some experience in coverage. 
  • Rare traits of athleticism for the position. 


  • Frame is very slender and lean. 
  • Has to work harder than the average edge to shed blockers. 
  • Relies a lot on athleticism to win his rush instead of technique and strength. 


There’s no doubt the Chargers need to help at the linebacker position and need to add depth behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. Why not do both? Having some experience dropping back into coverage while being primarily a rusher in Athens allows Brandon Staley to use Nolan Smith in a multitude of ways. Probably the prospect who produced the best overall testing numbers out of any participant at this year’s combine, Smith has backed these numbers with what he’s put on tape.  He’s quick, fast, plays with good leverage, and has rare athletic traits that would make Brandon Staley’s defense that much more threatening. 


9. Calijah Kancey, DL – University of Pittsburgh


  • Can make himself skinny to slip in between gaps. 
  • Strong forearms to pair with very active hands.
  • Great twitch and explosiveness off the snap.
  • Great footwork allowing him to change direction with ease.
  • Anchors down well against double teams.
  • Good top end speed.


  • Size will always be a question mark.
  • Ducks head into bigger blockers especially on double teams.
  • Lack of length creates problems when blockers have hold of him.


It’s hard not to make headlines when you’re a prospect who’s constantly being compared to Aaron Donald. An unfair comparison it may be since Donald will likely wind up enshrined in Canton, the resemblance between him and Pitt’s Calijah Kancey are uncanny. Both hail Pitt as their alma mater and both are undersized while also being explosive, twitchy, and strong athletes. The Chargers need help along their defensive line. Two year’s ago it was their run defense and now they don’t generate enough of a pass rush from the interior. Kancey is a prospect who can help beef up their run defense and also rush the quarterback. He can line up almost anywhere on the defensive line which gives Brandon Staley the freedom and excitement of harnessing all of Kancey’s potential.

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