Just one week remains until the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite some talk about potentially trading down recently, the LA Chargers are still slotted to pick at #21 next Thursday. Two tight ends in Utah's Dalton Kincaid as well as Notre Dame's Michael Mayer could be there for the taking.
For the time being, mocks do seem to have the Utah product as the more common selection. A lot can still change between now and next week.
Chargers mock draft around Dalton Kincaid:
With the 21st pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select: Utah TE Dalton Kincaid
Chargers mocks at 21 are currently all over the place before the draft, which makes sense with all the uncertainty surrounding the first 20 selections. For a while and still occasionally in mocks, Utah's Kincaid was/is somewhat of a clubhouse leader for the pick.
Kincaid has earned the title of best receiving tight end in the class. No one else in the positional group challenges him. Other choices may be better perceived value in later rounds, but Kincaid had 890 yards on 70 receptions in 2022. Notre Dame's Mayer has a slightly higher yards per route run at 2.44 to Kincaid's 2.42, but his strength is his blocking more so than receiving in comparing the two.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah effectively compared Kincaid to a souped-up version of Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia days of his prime. Both are terrific route runners with great movement, hands, and the ability to catch through contact. You're not going to live and die with either Ertz or Kincaid as blockers, but Kincaid has the requisite athleticism to develop that part of his game more.
There are two potential red flags with Kincaid. One has maybe been put to bed in regard to his back injury after being cleared by medical professionals including Dr. Robert Watkins. Who knows what the Chargers' own internal medicals say about him, but that's a positive step in the right direction either way. The second potential issue in drafting Kincaid is that he will be 25 when the season starts. Is he a little tapped out as a prospect already?
Even taking the concerns into account, Kincaid feels like a very safe pick at 21 with a relatively high floor if the Chargers decide to go that route. Mayer could potentially be a better fit for the 12 personnel packages that Kellen Moore wants to run, but the offensive potential between Herbert and Kincaid potentially resembling early-stage Wentz to Ertz is fun to think about.