Chargers should have drafted Darnell Washington over Daiyan Henley
The most surprising pick of the entire 2023 Chargers draft class was Daiyan Henley in the third round. The Chargers are a team that historically does not prioritize linebackers and decided to use a premium top-100 pick on a linebacker after signing a veteran linebacker to an expensive one-year deal.
Henley has shown flashes and there are signs there that he can turn into a productive linebacker in the future. This isn't really an anti-Henley argument, this is more about the Chargers actually drafting for a position of need versus taking someone who has been limited to special teams this season.
The pick should have been Darnell Washington, who fell to the third round after being projected to picked in the 25-40 range. Sure, Washington had some health concerns, but the ceiling of him being a solid blocking tight end as well as a dynamic red zone threat because of his size was appealing.
Washington hasn't done much in the passing game for the Pittsburgh Steelers but he is already being used prominently as a blocker. There has definitely been a learning curve for Washington but he has still looked better as a blocker than anyone the Chargers currently have in the room.
Plus, tight end was more of a long-term need than linebacker anyway. Gerald Everett is a free agent after the 2023 season and Tre' McKitty might not even make the roster in 2024 because he has been so bad. Tight ends typically need a year to develop in the NFL so it made all the sense in the world to draft one now to be ready to have an even bigger impact in 2024.
Meanwhile, linebacker is a way easier position to backfill in free agency for cheap while actually finding an impactful player. Sometimes you can even land guys like Kyzir White or Drue Tranquill for $3 million in free agency! Find a tight end who is as good as Tranquill is at linebacker for only $3 million in free agency. You won't.
This team needed the tight end help more than the linebacker help and that is bearing itself out early on in the season.