The LA Chargers can go multiple directions in the 2021 NFL Draft and fans are debating about what the team should do as we get closer and closer to the draft. Will the team go with an offensive lineman? A cornerback? Receiver? Edge rusher?
What the team does with the 13th overall pick is going to depend on what players get selected in the first 12 picks but one thing is for certain: the LA Chargers should not go the route of simply picking the best player available.
There is just one player that fans need to look at to prove why this is not a great strategy: Justin Herbert.
Why the LA Chargers should not simply draft the best player available:
Certain teams have the luxury of going with the best player available. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have a well-rounded roster and do not have many holes can afford to go with the best player available. That is why Kansas City went with Clyde Edwards-Helaire last year.
Best player available really only works if a team has a pick in the second half of the draft and is going to land a top-tier prospect. Derwin James falling to 17 in 2018 was a rare case and while James is extremely talented, there was a reason he fell that far (injury concerns) and thus far he has only played one full NFL season.
The LA Chargers are not in a position to pick the best player available. This is a team that has so many roster holes. The team has no one to play left tackle (and no, don’t say Alejandro Villanueva, he was terrible last season and is only getting older). They do not have a second outside cornerback. They need help on the edge.
There are only two positions that make sense for the Chargers to pick at 13: tackle and cornerback. I personally lean heavily towards tackle, but drafting Jaycee Horn in the first round and getting Liam Eichenberg or Dillon Randunz in the second round is not a bad outlook either.
Going best player available and taking someone like Jaylen Waddle is not smart. Heck, it does not matter if it is Micah Parsons or Devonta Smith at 13. Neither player fits what this team needs and that is poor roster building. That is the reason why there are so many holes on this team because the Chargers have taken this route before.
If the LA Chargers would have gone best player available last year then Justin Herbert would not be on the team. Even though Tyrod Taylor was projected to start, the Chargers knew they needed a quarterback and were going to pick whoever the Miami Dolphins did not pick; Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa.
The best player available for the sixth overall pick was Isaiah Simmons, who a lot of Chargers fans talked themselves into.
Herbert was not even the second-best player available. Nor the third, fourth, fifth or sixth. Many big boards had Herbert in the late-teens, early twenties. Not sixth. The LA Chargers drafted based on a need and they filled the biggest possible need that most teams wrestle with time and time again.
Simmons went two picks later and while he has a lot of potential, the Chargers would be without a franchise quarterback right now and we would be talking about whether or not they were looking at Trey Lance or Justin Fields.
Oh, and they would still have holes at cornerback and tackle.
Not only do the LA Chargers owe it to Justin Herbert to pick an offensive tackle early in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they should be looking at the situation they are in because they didn’t go best player available and picked Herbert instead.