2021 NFL Draft Grade: Los Angeles Chargers
Round 1 Pick 13: OT Rashawn Slater
Round 2 Pick 47: CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Round 3 Pick 77: WR Josh Palmer
Round 3 Pick 97: TE Tre’ McKitty
Round 4 Pick 118: LB Chris Rumph II
Round 5 Pick 159: OT Brendan James
Round 6 Pick 185: LB Nick Niemann
Round 6 Pick 198: RB Larry Rountree III
Round 7 Pick 241: S Mark Webb
The Chargers have a very promising young QB in Justin Herbert, but after watching fellow rookie Joe Burrow get hurt, the question was whether or not LA would be able to protect him. The Chargers had one of the worst o-lines in the league in 2020, but it doesn’t look that way anymore. They stole the best center in football from Green Bay by signing Corey Linsley, and they drafted a very versatile tackle in Rashawn Slater.
Slater was projected as a top-10 pick, but as Penei Sewell began sliding down the board, it became clear that some of the top tackles would be available later on in the round. Some have questions about Slater’s ability to play tackle in the NFL due to his size. It’s true, Slater is quite small for an NFL left tackle, standing at just 6’3. That said, opposing defenders won’t be going over him. They have to either go around him or through him.
Slater is built like a truck at 305 pounds, and he has massive arms and hands. His wingspan is a ridiculous 80 ⅛ inches, so as much as people want to knock Slater’s height, he is just as long as many of the other tackles in the NFL. Slater will be just fine.
The other big issue for LA going into the draft was their secondary. So much so, that I mocked them taking defensive backs with three straight picks. They didn’t quite go that far, but they did get a very quality corner in Asante Samuel Jr. He has the potential of a CB1 in this league, and that should get tested immediately.
Josh Palmer and Tre’ McKitty are both players that flew under the radar due to somewhat underwhelming stats. However, if you look at the tape, there is obvious talent with both these players. Palmer runs routes with precision and has great hands as a receiver. McKitty has dual talent as a receiver and blocker, thus with the departure of Hunter Henry, he could see some immediate playing time as well.
Seventh round pick Mark Webb is an intriguing player as well. He will not see immediate playing time, but as a wide receiver convert, he makes ridiculous plays on the ball. At Georgia, he spent much of his time as a nickel corner, but he should eventually see some reps at safety and as a return man in the NFL.
The first four picks of the Chargers draft addressed big needs. LA got them at great value too as all four have the potential to outperform their draft position. Their Day Three picks all have boom-or-bust potential, but Mark Webb could have a Deonte Harris-like impact as a return man. The Chargers are officially a team that needs to be taken seriously going into the 2021 season.