With only a couple of weeks left until the 2021 NFL Draft, we’re getting to the point where the likelihood of additional signings in free agency become less and less likely until the Draft gets sorted out. Some have been playing the field more than others, but the Los Angeles Chargers haven’t made any moves at all during the month of April – despite still having a couple of roster holes, specifically at left tackle. However, Brandon Staley did imply that might be their first priority in the Draft. But that’s not the only areas where either a starter or depth needs to be added. Let’s look through the list of top Los Angeles Chargers draft priorities by position.
Biggest Los Angeles Chargers Draft Priorities
This is still the biggest glaring hole on the entire roster. The Chargers never added a free agent at this position, so right now it’s just Trey Pipkins at the position – who was unable to beat out Sam Tevi last year for the starting nod (not a good sign). Since it seems the Chargers aren’t going to address this is in free agency and this is apparently a good draft class for offensive linemen, that has to be their priority in the first round.
Penei Sewell has been the most popular choice out of almost any offensive lineman, and he played with Justin Herbert at Oregon. However, there’s a fair chance he won’t last until No. 13 overall, given his popularity. There is some talk that if the Cincinnati Bengals pass on Sewell at fifth overall, the Chargers may try trading up to nab him. If none of that works out, Rashawn Slater has a better chance of being available at 13th overall. If neither of them are available, there’s a couple of other options (Alijah Vera-Tucker, Christian Darrisaw), but at that point the Chargers could end up going for a cornerback instead, or maybe even tight end Kyle Pitts if he slips far enough. And the Chargers may end up wishing they’d addressed the left tackle position before the Draft.
The Chargers have two quite solid starters in Chris Harris and Michael Davis, but the bar drops heavily after that. The next best options are Brandon Facyson and Tevaughn Campbell. It’s difficult to not see the Chargers adding one somewhere in the Draft. In the event that the best left tackles are gone by the time they’re on the clock in the first round, Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain II could be in the conversation.
Otherwise, it’d be better to wait until the second round for a cornerback, given that they don’t necessarily need a CB1 or CB2 here (unless Staley wants Harris to play in the slot). From the looks of things, there may still well be a decent handful of options by that point.
Melvin Ingram doesn’t appear to be coming back (as expected), and in a 3-4 defense, it’s hard to not see Uchenna Nwosu getting moved back to linebacker to be a pass-rusher. Thus, an addition may need to be made at defensive end. It’s possible they could just move one of the defensive tackles to that spot (Jerry Tillery?), since in that kind of defense, it doesn’t make a huge difference. Also, besides this not being as huge a priority as other things, this defensive end class doesn’t seem very top-heavy, meaning they can afford to wait more until later for this kind of move.
Brandon Staley appears to be all in on Nasir Adderley, despite his struggles in 2020. That’s all well and good, but they’re going to have to make some kind of move eventually at this position, even if just for depth – because Adderley, Derwin James, and Alohi Gilman are literally the only safeties on the roster. While this should be considered a priority – probably above defensive end, even – the Chargers can wait until Day 2 or 3 for this, because this is a rather thin safety class and it doesn’t look like hardly any of them will go that high. This of course arguably makes it more bizarre that they didn’t add any safeties in free agency (yet), if this Draft wasn’t going to be particularly rich pickings.
There’s a few other positions that could stand to have some depth added, but aren’t top-level priority – in other words, these positions certainly won’t be getting selected from in the first round.
It may be worth adding another running back later in the Draft and see what they can get, because while Austin Ekeler is great, he’s not a three-down back, Justin Jackson can’t stay healthy, and Joshua Kelley doesn’t look promising right now. Beyond that, the linebacker corps could do with a little more depth, though they don’t really need any additional starters at this point – hence why they could wait until Day 3 for that.
And although this isn’t a priority for this year specifically per se, don’t be surprised if a tight end gets drafted at some point – given that Jared Cook is almost certainly only a stopgap addition, and we don’t know yet if Donald Parham is the guy of the future.
With nine total picks this year (including a third-round compensatory pick), there should be plenty of space for the Chargers to fill up their depth where needed. Frankly, left tackle and cornerback are the biggest priorities – almost anything after that is gravy. And of course, trades are always possible too. But with the Chargers having the most draft picks they’ve had since Tom Telesco took over, this is quite a good opportunity to stock up on depth in certain areas as well as sealing up the last holes with regards to the starting lineup.
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