The massive first-round mistake the Chargers must avoid in the 2023 NFL Draft

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1
2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The LA Chargers hold the 21st overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft and opinions vary on who exactly Tom Telesco & company should take. In order to accurately gauge this question, you've got to fully understand one's premise coming in.

Some believe that you should draft for need, while others belong to the "select the best available player available" camp. Then there's the cynical crowd, such as "the draft is a crapshoot" and "it's shooting darts blindfolded."

No matter where you find yourself, we all must agree that there is one decision the Bolts could make in the first round that would be far worse than any other.

The Chargers cannot draft a running back in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Let's break down the reasoning as to why this decision would be a mistake, even with someone like Bijan Robinson potentially available.

Opportunity cost is too high

Isiah Pacheco was a seventh-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2022 NFL Draft. He ended up being the leading rusher in their Super Bowl victory over the Eagles.

Just a few years ago, KC selected LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round. Where was he on Sunday? On the sideline — a healthy scratch for the big game. And who was the next pick in that same draft? WR Tee Higgins.

Positional value is a thing. It's also valid to want a new ball carrier in this year's draft, both can be true at the same time. However, that doesn't mean you pass up on a potential cornerstone piece to select Robinson if he's still on the board at #21.

Ball carriers just don't move the needle anywhere near as much as other offensive positions and running the football is innately dependent on run blocking in the trenches.

Passing the football is considerably more efficient in today's NFL. Elite front offices understand this and allocate top resources accordingly.

Look what happened in Dallas

In 2019, RB Ezekiel Elliot signed a six-year, $90 million dollar extension with the Cowboys, $50 million of which was guaranteed.

Between then and Kellen Moore's final year with Dallas in 2022, Zeke conceded that backfield to fourth-rounder Tony Pollard (a converted WR). All else being equal, the Cowboys couldn't afford Amari Cooper because of Zeke's extension and were forced to trade him to the Browns.

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The Chargers shouldn't burn a first-round pick on the position when they can adequately solve any of its "problems" later on in the draft.