With the NFL Draft just weeks away, it is time to look at potential targets in each round. It is pretty easy to pick targets early in the draft, but toward the later rounds, it becomes very hard. Still, based off the current roster, you can make assumptions of position groups and where they are likely to be targeted. It looks like quarterback is the primary target for the Charger’s 6th-overall selection. While there are some generational talents available that early, especially on defense, quarterback is the most important position in football. Tyrod Taylor should make for a fine placeholder, but the likelihood that the Chargers will be picking this high, with quarterback as a position of need is unlikely. Most draft analysts project one of the following three signal callers to be drafted by the Chargers in the first round:
Tua Tagovailoa (Top 5)
It would likely take a trade up to acquire the Tua Tagovailoa, but you would be getting an extremely talented player to build your franchise around. Tua has all the skills you want in a quarterback. He is a leader with high character. He is well liked by coaches and teammates alike. He comes from great coaching in a pro-style offense. Tua’s arm talent is exceptional, though his arm strength is not elite. The accuracy though is pin-point and he knows when and where to fit the ball into tight windows. He is going to be better throwing screens, slants and anything between the numbers, but has enough zip to get out on the perimeter. Tua has always had the most elite players surrounding him, but don’t let that deter you away from his talent, because he is a winner, who earned his job in the most unlikely of times, the BCS National Championship.
The durability is going to be the big question mark. Tua has had quite a few lower body injuries, with the most recent being the most devastating. His hip injury has had nothing but positive checkups and his rehab seems to be going well, but will the mobility he once had be back? Tua will need to learn to limit his hits and would benefit by adding weight to his frame. He worked extremely hard to come back from this injury and his marketability would help sell tickets at the new stadium. Tua to Los Angeles makes more sense than any other player, though the Dolphins are likely interested and can give up more capital than the Chargers to land him if they so choose. He has been one of the most exciting players in college football.
Justin Herbert (Picks 6-20)
Herbert could have likely been the first quarterback off the board last year, but played his final year at Oregon. Now he is likely to be the 3rd quarterback taken behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Justin Herbert could be drafted as early as 5th-overall, but if the Chargers don’t draft him at 6th, he could fall. He is really worth a mid 1st-round grade, but quality signal callers tend to go early then there actual talent says they should. If he falls past 10, QB-needy teams could look to trade up. If Lynn & company think that Herbert’s their guy, they could get him at 6, though trading back might open up a scenario where they get a draft pick and still get him. It’s a high risk, high reward scenario.
Some teams have him graded as the best in this class if you are looking purely at his intangibles. He has one of the strongest arms in this years class without doubt. He is also 6’6, 230 pounds and ran a sub 4.7 forty-yard-dash. I wouldn’t say he is a mobile quarterback, but the ability is there for sure. When he stays true to his mechanics in the pocket, he’s very accurate. When he scrambles or improvises, accuracy drops off. Not the most consistent, and not a vocal leader, but leads by example. Some compare him to Ryan Tannehill, but I think he is more similar to Jay Cutler, only with heart. He basically rebuilt a 4-win Oregon football team his rookie year, to an 11-win football team his senior year. Oh yeah, they were also Rose Bowl Champions and didn’t have many playmakers at skill positions most of his time there.
Jordan Love (Picks 15-45)
If the Chargers want Jordan Love, they should trade back and get him mid-late 1st round. He should not be drafted 6th-overall. There are a lot of people who are higher on Love then on Herbert, but I don’t see it. He could be a very good quarterback, and many people point to his 2018 tape where he had more playmakers around him. While it is noteable that he lost 9 staters the following year, the quarterback is supposed to elevate players around him and Love didn’t do that. He also played against inferior competition in the Mountain West conference, where he should have put up greater numbers than 3,500 yards through the air in both seasons. He is also far behind the other 3-top signal callers in this class and will not be pro ready for a few years. I honestly see him more as a developmental player, then a player ready to take the reigns mid-way through the season, or next year.
Love was a 1 read player his entire time at Utah State. He was rarely able to progress through different reads which majorly sets him back. He has elite arm strength and can get the ball down field without needing to use mechanics to do so and he has a beautiful deep ball. The fact that he wasn’t able to elevate the players around him his junior year really worries me. Love’s stats his sophomore year is proof of elevated stats due to a better supporting cast. The following year showed questionable decision making which lead to a ton of turnovers. He has decent pocket awareness and able to improvise when the pocket breaks down. His arms strength mixed with decent accuracy in the intermediate level of the field are characteristics you can work with, but the lack of moving through progressions and reading a defense will take time to learn. He has the tools to really become a great football player, but it’ll take time. He is literally the Devin Wade from the Madden Franchise.
Isaiah Simmons (Picks 3-7)
One of the most generational players the draft has to offer is Isaiah Simmons. If anyone remembers EA Sports NCAA Football, there were players you could recruit who didn’t have set positions and they were simply named ATH for athletes and that is was Simmons is. He offers position flexibility as a safety who can run and cover, as an edge to rush the passer or as a linebacker to play against the run. He will likely play in the box as a Swiss Army Knife, similar to Shaq Thompson or Jabrill Peppers. He is 6’4, 235 pounds with sub 4.4 speed. He is going to be a perennial All-Pro and I am calling it now, Hall of Famer. People are not supposed to be able to do things that this player can do and at his size. He is the only player who is not a quarterback that I would consider the Chargers to pick in this draft with the 6th pick. Any other year, and Simmons would be the 1st overall pick. It would be a surprise to see him fall out of the top 7. He is the real deal!
There are other players that would benefit the Charger’s defense, but the Chargers solved all their defensive needs in free agency. There is no way that Chase Young falls to 6th-overall. Derrick Brown is a game changing defensive tackle, but with Linval Joseph now entrenched as the nose tackle, it doesn’t make sense to draft him that high. Same goes with Javon Kinlaw, but he would also compete with Jerry Tillery and Justin Jones as the 3-tech. Jeffrey Okudah would be an upgrade cornerback, specifically over Michael Davis on the outside, but the Chargers still have Chris Harris and Desmond King on the roster, with Nasir Adderley also having position flexibility to play corner also. There are no other defensive players worthy of being drafted 6th overall.
Looking at the Chargers current roster and trends of Tom Telesco, offensive tackle may already be set with Trey Pipkins and Trent Scott in a camp battle for left tackle. Bryan Bulaga is set as the starter on the other side with Sam Tevi backing him up. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t benefit from upgrading the position and there are several options available. Tristin Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills are all deserving of being top-10 picks and would come in and contribute right away. I just don’t see room when there are four currently on the roster. Fans want to see Scott and Tevi cut from the team after a disastrous season but it’s not going to happen, especially when both cost next to nothing as depth. The can is getting kicked to next year.
The likely choice as I said before is quarterback. There are other positions of need that will need to be addressed later in the draft. The Chargers need at least two wide receivers, a running back, and a nose tackle at a minimum. They could use another tight end as depth with pass catching ability and depth on the interior of the line, especially if Pouncey is not available. Tackle is a wild card, but isn’t needed to fill the roster. If you are noticing a trend, outside of a nose tackle, the primary needs are all on the offensive side of the ball. Stay tuned as we look at targets in the 2nd round. Coming soon…