The LA Chargers shocked fans in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft when the team selected TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston with the 21st overall pick. There certainly is a high upside with Johnston but he was not one of the names that Chargers fans expected.
With two picks on day two of the draft, the Chargers are now going to work at building a draft class around Johnston. That starts with the 54th pick in the draft, where the Chargers had several surprising prospects fall to them.
When the dust ultimately settled, the Chargers landed USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu with the 54th overall pick. For those unfamiliar with his game, here is why this pick makes perfect sense for the Bolts.
Chargers draft Tuli Tuipulotu at 54 and it makes perfect sense
While some Chargers fans may have expected the team to take a falling Darnell Washington (us included), it is not hard to fall in love with the Tuipulotu selection if he works out as expected. And this is coming from the site that is often critical of the draft selections and avoids hometown bias.
Los Angeles needed edge-rushing depth in 2023 and they got just that with Tuipulotu. He is a strong, physical pass-rusher that should have success with his bull rush right away at the NFL level. There are areas of his game that need work but that is why the Chargers are a good landing spot as he can refine those techniques behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.
He also is extremely versatile with the ability to line up at defensive end in a 3-4 defense. That shouldn't be his full-time outlook at the NFL level but he will be able to kick inside on dedicated passing downs. This will give the Chargers a third-down pass rush consisting of Bosa, Mack, Tuipulotu and Morgan Fox all on the field.
The only potential drawback is whether or not Tuipulotu can truly develop into a full-time starting edge rusher after the 2023 season. It will likely be Mack's last and the team needs someone to take over in 2024. As a tweener in-between positions, there may be some concern about Tuipulotu's ability to do so. But now it is in the Chargers' hands to make sure he is coached up to do just that.
The next time that the Chargers will be on the clock will be with the 85th overall pick in the third. Of course, this is assuming that the Bolts do not trade up or down in the third round, which is definitely still possible.