The LA Chargers have been one of the worst defensive teams in the entire NFL over the last two seasons despite hiring a defensive-minded head coach in Brandon Staley. Last season he was given the benefit of the doubt but with multiple additions this offseason, the defense's struggles have put Staley under the spotlight.
To be fair to Staley, the new additions that the team made have not really been able to have the kind of impact that the team was hoping for. J.C. Jackson battled an ankle injury, played poorly and then ruptured his patellar tendon and is out for the year. With Joey Bosa being out since Week 3, Khalil Mack has essentially just been Bosa from last year, all by himself.
Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day have been okay but Johnson is now out for the year as well. Staley's coaching definitely deserves criticism, don't get me wrong, but this defense is a lot better on paper than it actually is in real life.
One area that has really hurt the defense is linebacker. Drue Tranquill has been really good in blitzes and has made some big tackles but has also gotten lost in coverage at times. More notably, Kenneth Murray has been really, really bad and is someone that opposing offenses straight-up target in their offensive gameplans.
We have seen enough of Murray's struggles to assume that it simply won't come together for him in Los Angeles, which is a shame. The team not only spent a first-round pick on Murray in 2020, but traded a second and third-round pick to move into the first round to get him. This one draft mistake is absolutely still haunting this team.
The Chargers could have had a much better 2020 draft class without trading up for Kenneth Murray.
Of course, it is easy to do this in hindsight and just point out the best players that the Chargers could have drafted instead of Murray. At the time, most (if not all) Chargers fans were thrilled with the selection and Telesco's boldness to trade up for him.
But just imagine for a second what the team could have done instead of taking Murray in the first round. In the second round, there were talented receivers in KJ Hamler and Chase Claypool on the board that the team might have selected considering they took two receivers later. They also could have picked up a promising young cornerback like Trevon Diggs.
Heck, the team took Joshua Kelley in the fourth round. Maybe in this alternate universe, they take Jonathan Taylor in the second round. It probably would not happen with Austin Ekeler, but you never know.
The team could have also gone linebacker in round two and picked someone like Logan Wilson, who has been much better thus far in his career than Murray. Then in round two, the team could have either gone receiver with the likes of Devin Duvernay, or potentially picked up a Pro Bowl guard in Jonah Jackson.
Giving the Chargers the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they would make the best possible pick is silly. Plus, there would have been ripple effects from the team not trading up for Murray at all. But the point still stands: the Chargers would have gotten far more value out of keeping those picks than trading for Murray.
And who knows, if the Chargers don't make this trade then maybe then end up keeping Kyzir White after a breakout season in 2021. Just an idea.