The NFL draft is one of the most unpredictable events in all of the sports world. The 2018 draft stayed true to this fact. Luckily, the Los Angeles Chargers were on the lucky side of this series of events.
A consensus top-10 pick in the draft, Derwin James found himself sliding down the board as teams persisted on taking players that came as a surprise to just about everyone. From Da’Ron Payne going to the Washington Redskins to the Oakland Raiders deciding on Kolton Miller over the likes of James and Tremaine Edmunds.
The Chargers took advantage and snagged one of the most gifted players in the entire draft, James. But, what does this mean for the Chargers? Let’s talk about the negatives. By not going defensive tackle in the first round, that leaves a glaring hole in the middle of the Chargers’ defense. It also leaves vulnerability at the linebacker position and leaves Joe Barksdale as the best right tackle on the roster.
Luckily for the Chargers, there’s still six rounds of the NFL draft to go. The defensive tackle position is vastly talented. In this draft class they could attain a Week 1 starter in the second or third round. Unfortunately Taven Bryan was taken late in the first, he was a guy who was very highly touted and would’ve been amazing in the Chargers’ system.
Even if the Chargers can’t snag a bright young defensive tackle prospect there still is free agency. With the acquisition of James, Tre Boston is out the door. He is far too costly to keep on the roster only to compete for the starting job. This means the Chargers can have a little more flexibility with their money. Conveniently, a monster run-stopper named Johnathan Hankins is still meandering in free agency. Adding Hankins to the team would be huge. He’s young, he’s powerful and most importantly, he can stop the run.
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The Chargers also must address their need at linebacker and offensive tackle sometime in the draft. There’s no linebacker that jumps off the page like there is for defensive tackle, or even for offensive line. So, waiting for the third day of the draft to address that position could be a possibility. There is some great offensive line pieces still left on the board. Will Hernandez, Connor Williams, and James Daniel are all very talented. If one falls to the Chargers in the second it would be a solid pick.
Overall, the Chargers did an amazing job Thursday night. They didn’t trade up and give up future picks. They stayed their ground and got their guy. James brings toughness, speed, versatility and swagger to the team. With the safety set, it’s time to address the other needs. Hopefully a great defensive tackle or offensive tackle falls to the the Chargers with the 16th pick in the second round, but truly no one knows.
The Chargers are close to greatness. With the right picks in the later rounds of the draft and a late push in free agency, the Chargers could be a real force in the AFC.