Brandon Staley's comments hint at Chargers drafting a first-round tight end
By Jason Reed
The 2023 NFL Draft is a compelling one for the LA Chargers as there are a multitude of directions the team could go in with the 21st pick in the first round. In a perfect world, the Chargers would move back several spots and pick up an extra day-two selection while still securing a talented player in the first round.
One of the most compelling positions in the draft itself is tight end. This is a loaded tight end class with several prospects that are making headways. However, tight ends don't typically have much draft value and after the Bolts re-signed Donald Parham, it seemed unlikely that the team would actually go in that direction in the first round.
Head coach Brandon Staley spoke to the media on Monday at the NFL owners meeting and when asked about the team's wide receiver room (which still only has three NFL-caliber players), Staley changed the subject and instead talked about the offensive weapons as a whole, not just at receiver.
These comments definitely make it seem like a first-round tight end could be in the cards for the Bolts.
"You're trying to be a group that is hard to defend every snap. Make them defend the entire football field vertically, horizontally. I think weapons come from a lot of different places. It can be a receiver, it can be a tight end, it can be a runner. What you're looking for is weapons, that's what makes you tough to defend. Not just receivers. I think what we are trying to become is a complete offense where you have to defend everybody. "
Staley continues on saying that what made Kellen Moore so hard to defend when he was with Dallas was the fact that they had "three really good receivers, two really good tight ends and two really good running backs".
There are perks of the Chargers drafting a tight end in round one.
It is not the most popular position among the fanbase and there are other positions that have more value and would fill more of a need. If Bijan Robinson is on the board at 21 the Bolts may not even think twice and may just go best-player-available and figure out the rest later.
However, if it boils down to a tight end vs an edge rusher, based on Staley's comments, we could see the Chargers dip into the loaded tight end class and reserve and edge-rusher pick for the second round. There are still talented options on the edge in round two. The tight-end class does drop off after the top of the class.
An added benefit of selecting a tight end in the first round would be the fifth-year rookie option that the Bolts get on his deal, which pushes back the date that the team potentially has to pay them a year. That definitely matters, especially if the Chargers are going to trust in this tight end to be the starter after 2023.
This would give the team the dynamic tight-end passing threat it is looking for and would also add a long-term starting plan to the fold. If LA doesn't draft a tight end this year it becomes a bit harder to calculate who is going to start at the position next year. Rookie tight ends don't just leap into starting roles right away and the draft class is not going to be as good as this one.
The team is not going to have the money available to pay a tight end on the free agent market. So are they really going to run with Donald Parham and Tre' McKitty as their top two options? Probably not.
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It might not be the most popular decision to make but based on how the Chargers have historically taken best player available, with Staley's comments, it seems all the more likely that a tight end in round one is possible.