When the NFL Draft begins selections in Arlington, Tex., April 26, the Los Angeles Chargers have the No. 17 pick in the first round.
Here is an in-depth look at the team’s needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com’s experts.
Who would you pick and why?
TOP 5 NEEDS
- Defensive tackle: It’s easy to crow about what’s on the edges of the Chargers’ 4-3 alignment: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But a peek inside shows an aging Brandon Mebane and adequate mate in Corey Liuget. But with Liuget being out the first four games on a suspension and the Chargers sour on him to a degree anyway, a defensive tackle would be a nice fit. Imagine how effective Bosa and Ingram could be with some inside push.
- Inside linebacker: The Chargers were tough to pass against last year, but to run against? Not so much. Some of that has to do with the shortcomings in the previous regime, but it’s also a sign that the inside linebackers weren’t very stout. Denzel Perryman has some pop, but he’s not always on the field because of injuries. He needs some help, if nothing else, if the Chargers want to show a physical side on this side of the ball.
- Safety: Tre Boston was pretty solid last year after beating out incumbent Dwight Lowery in a spirited camp battle. But he hit the free-agent market and remains unsigned as the draft approaches. If he isn’t re-signed, they do have Jaylen Watkins, but he was more of a part-time player with the Eagles with five starts in four years. This spot has yet to be resolved.
- Kicker: The names roll off Chargers fans tongues like a local law firm: Koo, Coons, Novak and Rose. But all four kicked and missed, in varying degrees, in their stints last year serving as the kicker. So head coach Anthony Lynn has brought in two kickers in Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo but he’s far from settled in with this position. The Chargers are hopeful Sturgis is the guy, but they’re learned last year there’s no guarantees.
- Quarterback: Philip Rivers is coming off one of his best years and shows no sign of giving ground. So maybe there isn’t an urgency to find his heir apparent right now, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea. At the least, the Chargers have to decide on his backup as Kellen Clemens won’t be invited back. Instead, the Chargers will see what Cardale Jones, in his second year with the team, and Geno Smith, who is reunited with head coach Anthony Lynn from their days with the Jets are able to do. Is either of those two the answer for the future? That’s not likely. But for the present, the Chargers need to find a backup for Rivers.
–BEST FIT: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The Chargers gave up nearly five yards per carry last year, which was last in the league, so why not grab Payne if he’s available? He’s a thumper in the middle, comes with a championship pedigree and would make for a nasty front when complemented by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
–Rob Rang: Rashaan Evans, OLB, Alabama. The Chargers are likely to address the front seven after ranking dead last in the league in 2017, allowing 4.9 yards per carry. With quality depth at defensive tackle well into Day Three, general manager Tom Telesco may see Evans’ physicality and versatility as the perfect first step towards addressing this concern.
–Dane Brugler: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. The Chargers are looking to add talent at linebacker and Vander Esch has a great chance to land somewhere in the teens. He is an ascending player with a scheme-diverse skill-set.
FANS ON THE CLOCK, ON THE RECORD
OK, it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.