Grading ESPN's latest 7-round Chargers mock draft
By Jason Reed
The 2023 NFL Draft is right around the corner and the LA Chargers mock drafts are very prominent. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what the Bolts are going to do in the draft but that has not stopped draft pundits from trying to predict the draft class.
ESPN draft expert Matt Miller just dropped a seven-round mock draft that predicts every single pick for every single team in the 2023 NFL Draft. Miller is one of the most plugged-in experts in the space, so his mock draft could give us a peek into what the Bolts are going to do.
Let's assume that Miller is 100% correct about the Chargers' draft class. Here is how we would grade it if so.
Grading ESPN's 7-round Chargers mock draft:
RB Bijan Robinson at 21: A+
Miller has Texas running back Bijan Robinson falling all the way to the Chargers with the 21st overall pick and it would be an excellent selection for the Bolts. LA would be landing a bonafide top-10 prospect in the draft that could help solve some short-term and long-term problems.
Austin Ekeler's future with the Chargers is still up in the air and adding Robinson would, quite frankly, make that irrelevant. Robinson projects to be a great RB1 at the NFL level and is the only way the Chargers could replace Ekeler instantly with similar production.
EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu at 54: B
On paper, Tuli Tuipulotu would be a solid selection for the Chargers. He would provide depth on the edge and is also someone who showcased the positional versatility to play both on the edge and on the interior.
That being said, Miller had Auburn's Derick Hall going one pick later to the Detroit Lions. Hall seems like the better fit for the Chargers in 2023 and beyond, hence why this selection receives a B grade despite addressing a very real need.
DT Siaki Ika at 85: D
This is nothing against Baylor's Siaki Ika, who is a talented prospect that has a lot of potential as a run-stuffer at the next level. Miller says that Ika has "Vita Vea potential", which seems like a bit of a stretch, but he is a solid player nonetheless.
The bad grade is the process here. The Chargers taking an interior defensive lineman in the third round before addressing other needs does not seem like the best path to take. Draft analysts point out the Chargers' rushing defense without realizing that is how Staley's defense is built.
WR Charlie Jones at 125: C-
Purdue's Charlie Jones at least gives the Chargers another receiver, so there is a benefit in that. However, waiting this long to take a receiver has its consequences and we see that here. Jones is not someone who really adds anything to the Bolts.
He is not someone who is going to open up the deep part of the field and he does not add value as a returner. Instead of drafting a defensive tackle in the third round, the Bolts would be better off taking someone like Jayden Reed and taking a different position in round four.
OL McClendon Curtis at 156: B+
The Chargers need to add depth on the offensive line and McClendon Curtis is one of the most fun day-three offensive line targets. This would be a solid selection by the Bolts as they would get someone who can play across the offensive line.
CB Jaylon Jones at 200: C-
We shouldn't put too much weight into a sixth-round pick but the Chargers can do better than this. Jaylon Jones is not someone who would fit in Brandon Staley's man defense and the team would be better off just adding a safety that can provide depth and a special teams impact.
LB Anfernee Orji at 239: C
This might seem unfair but this would solely be a special teams addition in year one. While Orji is extremely athletic and physically gifted, he is raw in his technique and would not provide a defensive presence in year one.