The LA Chargers selected Quentin Johnston with the 21st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and it was a big surprise to the fanbase. Fans were expecting the team to draft a wide receiver in the first round but Johnston was not the player that they were expecting.
Zay Flowers was the fan-favorite choice to be taken at 21 while Jordan Addison had ties to the Chargers' WR coach at the time. Both players were still on the board when the Chargers were on the clock so fans expected one of those two names to be spoken out by Roger Goodell.
Instead, it was Johnston, who was viewed as the biggest boom-or-bust first-round receiving prospect in the draft. Johnston's first season definitely fell on the "bust" side of the equation, which made the surprising pick look even worse in hindsight for frustrated fans.
Fans were not the only ones who were surprised by the selection, however. Johnston told FanSided's Stacking the Box that he was surprised by the Chargers taking him as he had only talked to the team one time prior to the draft process.
"That was actually a surprise. I think I talked to them once, if that. So that was a surprise, a good surprise though. Came out to Cali, good weather, I think we had like probably a day or two where it was cold. Other than that it has been all clear skies so you can't really beat that so no complaints there. "
Quentin Johnston was also surprised that the Chargers drafted him
Johnston later said in the interview that the one team he talked with the most was the Houston Texans. Houston traded its second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft as part of the deal for the third pick so the team could take Will Anderson Jr. after C.J. Stroud. It is possible that the Texans were considering taking Johnston with the 33rd overall pick if it was not traded.
The more compelling takeaway from Johnston's shock that the Chargers drafted him is how the Bolts may have approached the 2023 NFL Draft. Just because the Chargers didn't meet with Johnston often doesn't mean they were never interested. But it could be telling about who they were actually prioritizing in the draft.
It is worth pondering if the Chargers were actually circling Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who fit what the Chargers needed at the position more on paper. Smith-Njigba was selected one pick before Johnston, so it is definitely possible that the Chargers were sent scrambling and picked the next-highest-ranked prospect on their board.
Or it is completely feasible that Johnston was always the pick and the Chargers were just trying to hide their intentions from other teams in the draft process. If that is the case that is still a weird approach, as the team should have been focusing more on getting a comprehensive reading of Johnston instead of focusing on hiding intent.
Either way, there is a new regime in place now in Los Angeles that (hopefully) will meet with its prospective first-round pick more than once leading up to the draft (even if that prospect may want to play for another team).