LA Chargers: “Steal a Player” series – AFC North edition

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Los Angeles Rams on November 10, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Los Angeles Rams on November 10, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) – LA Chargers /

What could the LA Chargers’ roster look like with some of the AFC North’s best talent?

In a new NFL of the future, the LA Chargers get to steal one player from each franchise in the NFL. Here’s who the team should take from their AFC North counterparts.

The next edition of the Bolt Beat “Steal a Player” series comes the AFC North. The rules of this are simple, no repeated positions within the division. You will not see two players of the same position here. My personal goal is also not to simply put the best players here, that would be too easy, rather I am aiming to find the players that would best fit the current LA Chargers roster.

The AFC North continually is one of the best divisions in football. The Steelers and Ravens always seem to be in contention, and I expect that to continue this season. The Browns have gone all-in on Baker Mayfield’s third season in the league and have surrounded him with a fantastic supporting cast.

If he can’t succeed this year then who knows if he ever will. Then you have the Cincinnati Bengals, who might not be a top tier team but with Joe Burrow, AJ Green, Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd they could be a very interesting team this season. Just hopefully not in the first game of the year against the Chargers.

There are some great players in the AFC North. Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP, TJ Watt was a top tier contender for Defensive Player of the Year, so was Myles Garrett before the whole debacle with Mason Rudolph went down, and of course, you have the wily vet Big Ben Roethlisberger. The division should be tight from start to finish this season.

All that being said, let’s get started with the stealing of players.

(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) – LA Chargers /

From the Baltimore Ravens, the LA Chargers steal…

WR Marquise Brown

Jackson is very tempting here, don’t get me wrong, as was Earl Thomas, Ronnie Stanley or even Mark Andrews. But I decided to go with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown here. The reason for not choosing the reigning MVP is simple: he does not fit what the current Chargers roster can do.

The Chargers do not have the type of ground and pound roster or system for that matter, that would make me feel confident that they’d be able to get the MVP version of Jackson that the Ravens have. Could they eventually get to that point? Sure, but it would take a couple of years of reconstruction of the Chargers roster to do so.

Really think about the type of players that the Ravens have had that allowed Jackson to thrive. Marshall Yanda is not walking through the Chargers door, all due respect to Trai Turner but he’s not on that level.

The Ravens had three tight ends last year that were all very good blockers and legitimate threats to catch the ball, the Chargers have one of those and he can’t stay healthy. Then on the outside, with Jackson, you need three or four downfield burners ie Brown. The Chargers do not have any of those either.

There’s only a small handful of quarterbacks in the league that you could really take off their current roster and stick them somewhere else and there wouldn’t be much drop off. Unfortunately, Jackson is not on that level just yet.

This is all about fit. Thomas is old and has suffered through a myriad of injuries over the past few years. In the short term, he absolutely would be an upgrade over Rayshawn Jenkins, but his long term future is cloudy enough to make me go in a different direction here. Stanley is a fine player, but I’m not sure if he’s the best tackle in this division. Andrews would be a fantastic addition as well but doesn’t fill the biggest need.

That leads me to Brown, who absolutely fills a need and was too tempting to pass up. The Chargers just drafted KJ Hill and Joe Reed, but neither of those two is the kind of player that Brown could be. All due respect to them but the speed that Brown can bring to a team is right up there with the best of best in the business.

He’s the perfect receiver to have on an offense that wants to run the ball a lot, which is what the Ravens have done and what the Chargers want to do, because of that speed.

The Ravens hardly have a great receiving core, but the threat of Brown’s speed opens everything up for that offense. Opposing defenses will always have to shift coverage his way and have two defenders over the top of him because of that big play ability.

We’ve seen it time and time again with guys like Tyreek Hill and DeSean Jackson. Now imagine the kind of space Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler would have with a guy like Brown taking the top off of opposing defenses. The possibilities with Brown would be endless and that is why he is the choice here.

The fit is seamless and it would be both an upgrade in the short term, as well as the long term since he’s only heading into his second year in the league.