With the 125th pick in the fourth round, the Los Angeles Chargers select: Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda
Based on James Palmer's recent comments on the Chargers' draft strategy, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Chargers didn't take one running back during the draft. The Austin Ekeler situation as I've written about in previous mocks is also a hard-to-ignore elephant in the room.
Day three tends to be the range for a Tom Telesco running back dart throw and they'll try to find value at the position unless of course, they are actually able to land Texas' Robinson in round one. Enter Pittsburgh home run hitter Israel Abanikanda:
Abanikanda fits the Telesco size criteria when it comes to the draft being well-built if he were to develop into a workhorse role. The Pitt prospect graded well athletically as his film would indicate. He does have true home run hitting top speed that his 40 time may actually be slower than.
He has low mileage on him as he'll turn 21 during the season, much like Isaiah Spiller during the draft process last year. Abanikanda's 20 touchdowns were tied for the most in the country with Minnesota's Mohamed Ibrahim.
The one knock on Abanikanda is that his vision and patience do have to improve in the league. But at his young age with the freakish athleticism that's already there, it feels like he can develop in the league under the right circumstances. If he does, he'd be a truly terrifying player. If not, he's still probably projectable as a Raheem Mostert type and I'd take that.
With the 156th pick in the fifth round, the Los Angeles Chargers select: Michigan EDGE Mike Morris
Michigan's Mike Morris is going to be another draft day case study in just how much combine and athletic testing matters. 2022 was a career year for the versatile EDGE prospect: 11.0 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks were single-season highs for him. He boasted a 20% pass rush win rate with 37 quarterback pressures.
But saying that Morris had subpar combine would be putting it lightly. He scored a 4.78 out of 10 on RAS. He slipped multiple times during drills and did not get the 40 time he wanted, posting a 4.95.
Of course, athletic testing is only part of the formula. But it's reasonable to say that based on the season he had in addition to the tape he put out, Morris would probably have squeaked into the second or third round with a good combine. Alas, he is here for the taking in the fifth.
Morris still has the size and frame that the Chargers have historically preferred for their EDGE players with 33.5 inch arms. Athletic testing is concerning here but assuming they feel as confident about his tape as many analysts are, the fifth round is a more than OK spot to take him.