The 2023 NFL Draft is going to be extremely important for the LA Chargers. With a restricted financial situation this offseason, the Bolts are going to have to find prospects that can instantly contribute to the team next season.
There is still a lot up in the air, both with the Chargers' potential needs as well as the draft big board. What the Bolts do in free agency will determine what they need in the draft while the NFL Combine could drastically shake up the current prospect rankings.
NFL Draft analysts are starting to dole out their first mock drafts for 2023 and thus far we have seen a wide array of different prospects for the Bolts in round one. This is unlike last year, when just about everyone thought the team was going to draft Jordan Davis in the first round.
Respected analyst Lance Zierlein whipped together his first mock draft of the year and had the Chargers taking someone who not many other mock drafts have suggested: Ohio State offensive tackle, Paris Johnson.
Paris Johnson would be a home run for the LA Chargers in the 2023 NFL Draft.
There is probably a contingent of fans that do not want to see the Bolts take an offensive lineman in the first round for the third year in a row. After all, offensive linemen are not as fun as a receiver that can run a 4.3 and catch bombs from Justin Herbert.
Those same fans would point to Trey Pipkins, who was really solid for the Chargers last season as the team's starting right tackle. What is the point of drafting someone like Johnson when they already have Pipkins in the building?
Pipkins is a free agent and with the Chargers' financial situation, he may have priced himself out of LA. The Chargers are going to have to make several tough decisions this offseason and not re-signing Pipkins could be one of them.
If that is the case, selecting a tackle early in the draft is the way to go if the team plans on playing Jamaree Salyer at guard. If they plan on playing Salyer at tackle then they could afford to take a guard with a day-two pick.
Johnson is the kind of prospect that the Chargers would jump on if he fell to 21. Johnson has an elite blend of size and athleticism for a college tackle and would instantly slot in as an average-at-worst right tackle in 2023.
This would give the Chargers their starting five on the offensive line for years to come with Corey Linsley being the only member of the line over 24 years old. Having that kind of continuity on the offensive line is a massive advantage.
The one problem with this scenario might be that it is unrealistic. Johnson is expected to go far before the Chargers will be on the clock, checking in as a top-10 prospect on the 2023 consensus big board.