3. Justin Herbert
It sounds silly to say, but the player whose stock rose the highest after the 2021 NFL Draft might be the face of the franchise himself, Justin Herbert.
The LA Chargers fell into a gold mine with Herbert. Teams spend years trying to find the right franchise quarterback and the Bolts went from the greatest quarterback in franchise history to the greatest rookie quarterback in NFL history. Herbert is special and the team did something this offseason that it rarely did with Philip Rivers: focus solely on helping him.
It started in free agency. The Chargers made Corey Linsley the highest-paid center ever and brought in two great interior options in Oday Aboushi and Matt Feiler. The team then used its first-round pick on a tackle for the first time in eight years.
Even if Slater was not there at 13, it is likely that the Chargers would have ignored the noise of taking the best player available and get someone to protect Justin Herbert’s blindside. Free agency and the draft proved to us that their no. 1 priority was making Herbert’s life easier.
Herbert got another jump-ball vertical threat in Josh Palmer in the third round. While I did not love the selection, the team essentially got its Mike Williams replacement if he walks after 2021. The Chargers likely don’t take a receiver this early if they weren’t all-in on Herbert.
Add another offensive lineman in Brenden Jaimes who will compete for a starting spot with Oday Aboushi, a young tight end in Tre’ McKitty and a running back in Larry Rountree and Justin Herbert suddenly has much more help than last season; a season in which he set nearly every rookie passing record.
Justin Herbert has everything he needs to succeed and already succeeded when he didn’t. You have to like the LA Chargers’ chances.