Todd McShay thinks the LA Chargers will draft a wide receiver in 2021.
The 2020 season has not officially begun yet but that has not stopped some from previewing the 2021 NFL Draft. Draft season is always in season and according to one of the most prominent draft analysts, the LA Chargers are going to draft a wideout in 2021.
ESPN’s Todd McShay released his very first 2021 mock draft (subscription required) on the heels of the Big Ten and Pac-12 announcing that they would be postponing the fall football season.
McShay used ESPN’s Football Power Index to establish the 2021 draft order, which had the Chargers drafting with the 11th overall pick. ESPN’s FPI projects the Chargers to win 7.7-8.3 games in the 2020 season.
And with the 11th overall pick in McShay’s 2021 mock draft, the LA Chargers select wide receiver Jaylen Waddle from the University of Alabama.
Why Jaylen Waddle could make sense for the LA Chargers:
The consensus here is that the Chargers are going to need more top depth at the receiving position moving forward. Right now, the team has Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but a lot can change in the next two years.
Allen is a free agent after this season and while we are hopeful that he will re-sign, nothing is a guarantee. If Allen does leave then I would all-but guarantee that the Chargers draft a receiver in at least the first two rounds.
Mike Williams is great and he will be a great deep-ball threat for Justin Herbert but the team is still going to need more top depth. Plus, Williams will be a free agent after the 2021 season, which raises more long-term depth concerns for the Bolts.
And while you could argue that Joe Reed or K.J. Hill could be that top depth, they are both late-round picks and are far from assured players that will break out and be a legitimate WR1/2-caliber player.
If the Chargers re-sign Allen then I do not think they will go receiver in the first round. I think they will keep Williams until he is a free agent and then explore drafting a receiver early in the draft.
While a lot can happen in a year, I think there are three realistic positions that the Chargers could target in the first: Offensive line, cornerback or edge rusher.
If the offensive line does not make improvements this year then a first-round offensive lineman should be a guarantee. The Chargers have not drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since D.J. Fluker in 2013 and it shows.
If the O-line takes a big leap then I think it will either be a corner or defensive end, whichever has a better prospect at the selection. The end would be to replace Melvin Ingram unless he does not regress at age 32 and signs a cheaper deal with the team. The corner would prepare for long-term depth as Casey Hayward and Chris Harris are on the wrong side of 30.
However, if there is an exciting receiver like Waddle still on the board, and Keenan Allen signs with another team, then it would not be shocking at all to see the LA Chargers draft him instead.