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On the clock: L.A. Chargers draft preview

There is no escaping the residue that hangs over the Chargers. You just can’t sweep aside blowing a 27-point lead in a playoff game, the third-worst meltdown in NFL postseason history.

The 31-30 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars displayed a lack of killer instinct and it led to the departure of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and the addition of Kellen Moore to run the offense.

Moore surely is voting for the Chargers to use the No. 21 overall pick on a receiver and there are certainly reasons why picking one in the first two rounds would be a good choice. Both Keenan Allen (10 games) and Mike Williams (13 games) missed substantial time in 2022 and the club doesn’t have enough depth behind the pair.

Also worth watching is the standoff between running back Austin Ekeler and the Chargers. Ekeler, who turns 28 in May, has handled the ball 587 times (410 carries, 177 receptions) over the past two seasons and wants a big increase in pay. Ekeler was given permission by the team to explore trade options.

Defensively, keeping pass rusher Joey Bosa on the field is a priority after he played in just five games due to a groin injury. The Chargers expect Bosa and Khalil Mack (8 sacks) to form a lethal duo.

The Chargers lost leading tackler Drue Tranquill (146 tackles) to free agency but landed a solid replacement in eight-year starter Eric Kendricks. The Chargers weren’t very active in free agency but general manager Tom Telesco feels the team can patch up holes in the draft.

“I’d heard a lot of things that this draft wasn’t very strong, and to me I see the opposite,” Telesco said. “I’ve seen a lot of good players that I like. I think those first 90-100 picks should be good.”

TEAM NEEDS 1. WR: Landing a promising wideout to be the team’s third receiver should be enticing with Justin Herbert always happy to sling the ball all over the field. TCU’s Quentin Johnson and Biletnikoff winner Jalin Hyatt of Tennessee could be in the mix.

2: S: Three-year starter Nasir Adderley retired at age 25 so the Chargers are likely to look to shore up the back end. Alabama’s Jordan Battle and Florida State’s Jammie Robinson are possibilities and Boise State’s JL Skinner would pack value in the fourth round.

3: OL: Left tackle Rashawn’s Slater season-ending biceps injury in Week 3 was a killer and the team also had some issues in the interior of the line. Grabbing a beefy guard or tackle will be a strong consideration.

2023 DRAFT PICKS Round Pick (Overall) 1. 21 (21) 2. 23 (54) 3. 22 (85) 4. 23 (125) 5. 21 (156) 6. 23 (200) 7. 22 (239)

BEST FITS 1. WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee: Production means a lot to the Chargers’ scouting staff and Hyatt, a slot receiver in a spread system, caught 15 touchdowns because of his overdrive gear and long speed. With a year to shadow Keenan Allen, Hyatt’s take-off year could be 2024.

2. RB Roschon Johnson, Texas: The backup to the top-ranked running back in this class, Bijan Robinson, Johnson could be a force in the NFL. The 220-pounder forces missed tackles and can also run through them. He’ll be a better value than Robinson starting in the third round.

3. OG Cody Mauch, North Dakota State: A three-year starter at tackle, Mauch can play almost any spot on the line because of light feet and his competitive fire.

–Field Level Media


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