The LA Chargers have a lot of flexibility in the 2023 NFL Draft. Without a pressing need on the roster, the team can take multiple different directions in the draft and are keeping the fans on their toes as a result. Heck, a trade-down is even possible for the first time in Tom Telesco's tenure as GM.
Another variable that is going to impact the Chargers' draft choices is Austin Ekeler's future with the team. Ekeler requested and was granted permission to seek out a trade as he and the Bolts could not come to terms on a contract extension. His future and whether or not he is on the team in 2023 have a huge influence on the draft.
If the Chargers do plan on taking a running back early in the 2023 NFL Draft then they are likely going to lean on new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to find someone who can fit in his offense. ESPN's Louis Riddick may have given fans a name to keep an eye on, as he compared Tyjae Spears to Moore's previous running back, Tony Pollard.
"If Spears gets out of Round 2 -- which shouldn't happen but could -- then a team is getting great value on a Tony Pollard-like running back. Spears has the kind of toughness, elusiveness, stop/start acceleration and big-play capability that can ignite an offense at any moment."
Tyjae Spears could be the Tony Pollard of the Chargers offense.
Chargers fans were hopeful that Pollard would potentially follow Moore to Los Angeles before the Cowboys ultimately slapped the franchise tag on him to keep him from leaving Dallas. While Spears may not be as polished as Pollard in 2023, getting someone who is similar to him as a cheaper price would be a huge win for the Bolts.
Spears currently ranks 77th on the 2023 Consensus Big Board. Riddick alludes to the fact that Spears falling into round three would be a mistake but it is a very real possibility, especially with the value of running backs, that he is a later selection on day two.
If Spears does somehow fall to the Chargers with the 85th overall pick, which is not inconceivable, then it might be impossible for the team to turn down this added boost to the running back room. Furthermore, if the Bolts do trade down in the first round and pick up an extra top-100 pick we might see the team more willing to "reach" for Spears and secure him in round two.
Ekeler's future may not completely dictate whether or not Spears lands in LA, either. If Ekeler leaves then Spears is a fun option to compete for the RB1 job with those in the building. However, if Ekeler stays, Spears can still be a solid change-of-pace option that blossoms into his role as the lead back.
Just because Spears is compared to Pollard does not mean he is guaranteed to go to the Chargers. However, he definitely is a name to pay more attention to in the 2023 NFL Draft.